Working with GLL/Better leisure centres to improve access for older people

By the Ageing Better in Camden Outreach Team


Our Outreach team partnered with the Health and Wellbeing Champion at Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre GLL/Better leisure providers) to host a pop up event inviting older people to come along to the Leisure Centre: to have a tour; have an opportunity to sign up and get their low cost annual Better Pay and Play (55+) card and join us for free tea, coffee and refreshments. 

The activity was arranged in response to interest showed by local older people that we met at sheltered housing, through pop ups and street outreach.

A number of older people wanted to become more active and try swimming but they didn’t have/couldn’t access information about the low cost 55+ Pay and Play card, free swimming for people 60+ , or about the wider sport and physical activities available for older people at their local public Leisure centre.

The Outreach Team supported Better/GLL to collate one straightforward document with all their relevant information for older people and we did extensive leafletting and door knocking.

The pop up event at the Leisure centre was very successful. 36 older people attended (17 men and 19 women) with 22 people signing up for their 55+ pay and Play card on the day; and 12 older people registered with ABC to be included in future activities/information. Some older people also received follow up support from AUC Dementia Wellbeing Team and Information and Advice team.

Following this event, the Outreach Team is working with Health and Wellbeing Champions at GLL/Better leisure centres to hold similar pop up events in their other Camden Sports/Leisure Centres, and training centre staff in Outreaching.

We believe that the key successful elements of the pop up were:

Attracting older people to come along to the pop up :

  • The ‘transactional’ focus: (sign up for 55+ card) - perhaps especially for men?

  • A very clear flyer: a photo of an older person being active image; What you can get? When? Where? What you need to bring along. What you will get for free/low cost

  • Very extensive outreach activity prior to the pop up:

o   We leafleted and door-knocked 431 sheltered accommodation flats; 

o   3 outreach staff spent approximately 18 hours over 2 days on street outreach

o   flyers put up and available to take away in Community Centre, Library and Doctor’s surgery

o   Flyers put up in local tower blocks

o   Flyers placed on 15 local bus stops around the Leisure Centre

We believe older people felt comfortable coming to a public building to access information and resources

  • People could take the first step to becoming active, without committing to do physical activity on that day

  • Being able to sign up for the 55+ Pay and Play card there and then

On the day:

  • Tours of the centre and the personal touch: Most older people went on a tour of the Centre and really enjoyed the chance to see what was involved in using the facilities (stairs, changing rooms, lockers, geography of the building); ask questions; and meet and talk with staff so that they would ‘know’ them  if they came back again

  • Having staff show you how things work (the lockers, getting changed, etc.)

  • Having information and a number of staff there (Age UK Outreach team and GLL) who could speak with all the older people individually and give in depth answers to some of their (personal) health, support and other concerns and directing them to appropriate additional adult social care and community services

Following this event, the Outreach Team is working with GLL/Better to hold similar pop up events in 2019 in their other Camden Sports/Leisure Centres.

To find out more about this work, please get in touch with us on