Girls Offered Free Gym Memberships To Encourage Active Lives As Part Of New ‘Big Sister’ Project - Women In Sport

Girls Offered Free Gym Memberships To Encourage Active Lives As Part Of New ‘Big Sister’ Project

April 2022

Girls aged between 9 – 15 years old in some parts of South Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Norfolk are to be offered exclusive free gym memberships at Places Leisure facilities as part of a pilot scheme to help improve confidence, wellbeing and activity amongst teenage girls living in areas of high deprivation.

The initiative, funded by £1m from the final Tampon Tax Fund is called the ‘Big Sister’ project. The aim is to bust the myths surrounding puberty and break down the barriers that girls face in leading healthy, happy and active lives. It is led by Women in Sport and the consortium involves: Places for People’s charity Places Foundation and local leisure provider Places Leisure, and Hey Girls Community Interest Company.

The free six-month membership offer includes unlimited use of the gym and swimming pool, a selection of group workout classes and free access to virtual classes and resources though the award-winning Places Leisure Locker App.

Places Foundation and Places Leisure are part of Places for People. Jamie Dickinson, Head of Social Value from the organisation, said: “We are delighted to announce the launch of the Big Sister project. It’s so important that young women and girls aren’t excluded from engaging, physical activity and given the chance to lead happy, healthy and active lives.

“We’re looking forward to working with our colleagues at Places Leisure, Women in Sport and Hey Girls to deliver projects that will support the health and wellbeing of young people in our communities.”

Through its research, Women in Sport found that teenage girls, particularly those in areas of deprivation, face significant barriers to accessing leisure facilities and sports opportunities to help them maintain active lifestyles. The charity identified four key challenges: affordability, body confidence, managing periods and worry about safety or harassment.

Girls participating in the programme can also gain access to free, reusable period products and resource packs from Hey Girls, to ensure that period poverty does not present a barrier to participation, promote good menstrual health and break down the myths and taboos that surround menstruation.

Kate Smith, Co-Founder and Director at Hey Girls says “We are so pleased to work closely with the Big Sister Project. Our aim is to provide people with period products and period education so everyone can have a better period. We have lived and learnt experience that sports can be a challenging topic when discussing periods, so we are really excited to help educate people within the Big Sister community to keep people active while they are menstruating.

“Our Buy One, Donate One model means we are also able to donate reusable and disposable period products to the extended communities across Sheffield, Norwich, Amber Valley and Rotherham.”

In May, ‘Big Sister’ is to launch a free-to-use online hub designed by girls for girls. The platform uses the voices and experiences of girls to create a range of resources to inspire, empower and enable all teenage girls to truly enjoy sport and exercise during puberty. A network of ‘Big Sister’ peer leaders have also been recruited from sport, school and community organisations in target areas to provide support, represent the voices of girls and enable girls to feel ‘sport ready.’

Women in Sport Chief Executive Stephanie Hilborne said: “It is a travesty that gender and economic inequalities are leading to so many teenage girls missing out on the exhilaration and fulfilment of exercise. We need to give girls a break from the gender stereotypes that limit their freedom.  It is simply wrong that one in three young girls avoid sport and exercise because they feel self-conscious about their appearance* and seven in ten don’t feel comfortable exercising on their period.** We are determined to disrupt this system by providing the knowledge, education and support girls need during puberty.”

“We are delighted to be part of this powerful consortium of partners to drive positive change for girls at this critical time in their lives. We think that taken together, free access to gyms and swimming pools, free period products and free advice from inspiring big sister peer mentors can make a real difference.  We know what young women are capable of and will not sit back and watch another generation of girls denied the chance to be active happy teenagers.”

ENDS

NOTES FOR EDITORS

* Women in Sport Girls Active Survey, 2018

** Women in Sport Teenage Girls Survey 2022

Places Leisure Facilities participating in the free membership offer:

Graves Health and Sports Centre, Sheffield

Wisewood Sports Centre, Sheffield

Thorncliffe Health & Sports Centre, Sheffield

Aston Cum Aughton Leisure Centre, Sheffield

Ripley Leisure Centre, Ripley

Alfreton Leisure Centre

Maltby Leisure Centre

Rotherham Leisure Complex

William Gregg VC Leisure Centre, Heanor

Wath Upon Dearne Leisure Centre

Riverside Leisure Centre, Norwich

For more information about how to claim the membership offer visit:

https://www.placesleisure.org/big-sister-project

ABOUT WOMEN IN SPORT:

Women in Sport was founded in 1984 and its vision is that no-one is excluded from the joy, fulfilment and lifelong benefits of sport and exercise. Recognising that gender stereotypes and institutional bias are holding women back in life and in sport, the charity’s purpose is to give every woman and girl the opportunity to take part and inspire her to do so.

The charity has a track record of success in securing change based on its deep understanding of the needs and aspirations of women and girls at each life stage and its determination to break down stubborn gender inequalities through its work within the sports sector and beyond.

www.womeninsport.org

ABOUT PLACES FOR PEOPLE

Places for People is a leading affordable homes-led placemaker. We believe places work when they work for everyone. We create homes, places and communities that are sustainable economically, socially and environmentally. Places for People created £165m in social value in 2021 and contacted over 65,000 customers during the pandemic, making a difference to our customers and our communities across the country.

The organisation’s award-winning placemaking, property investment, development and management companies are active throughout the UK. We own or manage more than 219,000 homes, operate over 100 leisure facilities, employ over 9,000 colleagues, have assets of £4.8bn, and will deliver circa 6,000 affordable homes over the next 10 years through our partnership with Homes England.

www.placesforpeople.co.uk

ABOUT PLACES FOR PEOPLE

Places for People is a leading affordable homes-led placemaker. We believe places work when they work for everyone. We create homes, places and communities that are sustainable economically, socially and environmentally. Places for People created £165m in social value in 2021 and contacted over 65,000 customers during the pandemic, making a difference to our customers and our communities across the country.

The organisation’s award-winning placemaking, property investment, development and management companies are active throughout the UK. We own or manage more than 219,000 homes, operate over 100 leisure facilities, employ over 9,000 colleagues, have assets of £4.8bn, and will deliver circa 6,000 affordable homes over the next 10 years through our partnership with Homes England.

www.placesforpeople.co.uk

ABOUT HEY GIRLS:

Hey Girls is an award winning You Buy One, We Donate One not for profit social enterprise fighting to end period poverty in the UK.

www.heygirls.co.uk