Although Oldham Community Leisure’s (OCL) centres are currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the leisure Trust is continuing to serve the community to ensure help gets to local people who need it most.
Initially when its centres closed, OCL donated all stocks from its vending machines to the Oldham Food Bank. Since then the situation has evolved and, led by Community Development & Partnership Manager Kelly Tattersall, the OCL team has turned Oldham Leisure Centre into a distribution centre for Oldham Foodbank.
The OCL team has also assisted in the set up of a new Foodbank Hub at Clemency House (the old Glodwick Pool) and helped with the logistics of collections from supermarkets and major companies. One of OCL’s engineers has even fixed the heating at the Foodbank Hub!
Kelly says: “In the last two weeks we haven’t been able to serve our community in the way we would usually, by helping them to stay active, so we have moved our resources to help our community where it needs us most.
“My team and I have helped to pick up and deliver emergency food parcels and this week we set up Oldham Leisure Centre’s Sports Hall as a distribution centre for larger items for Oldham Foodbank. Voluntary, faith, statutory and private organisations across Oldham have been working together in partnership. This is a real Oldham approach to the COVID19 – a true partnership to tackle local community challenges and ensure emergency essentials are delivered to people who are most in need #TeamOldham.”
Following the closure of its facilities, the majority OCL staff have been set to ‘furlough’ in keeping with government recommendations. Many of these team members are now actively volunteering, helping key organisations in the community such as the NHS and Oldham Council. A few of the staff remain at work, engaging with customers and doing all they can to keep OCL in the best shape possible for reopening.
Activities the team have been involved in include supplying exercise guides to elderly residents, so they can stay active at home, and making regular phone calls to the older generation, who may be affected by isolation and loneliness. OCL is also keeping in contact with the community and delivering online workouts for customers to follow on its website and via social media.
Stuart Lockwood, Chief Executive, says: “Oldham is a very proud borough with a huge community ethos. As an organisation, we are honoured to be a part of that. I believe we are integral to community spirit and, as such, we’re all working hard to keep our community active, healthy, connected and safe.
“The world is a very different place right now and everyone is affected. We want to extend our gratitude to all those customers who have kept their membership direct debits in place or kindly donated to us, in spite of the financial challenges people are facing worldwide. Their support is so important.
“We have taken the decision to use these voluntary contributions towards ensuring a fair level of financial support for our staff, especially for those whose income would otherwise not be supported by government funding. This includes the staff who drop in at short notice to cover cleaners, lifeguards and class instructors.
“Across the community, we serve a wide range of individuals and groups. Over the next few weeks we will continue to support people in any way we can as we prepare for a return to normal life once COVID-19 passes. Once again I want to thank everyone for their support. Stay safe, stay home and stay active.”
A helpline is now available for Oldham’s most vulnerable residents, who unable to leave the house and don’t have a trusted friend, neighbour or family member to help them. Open 9am-5pm on weekdays and 11am to 2pm on weekends, anyone needing help can call 0161 770 7007. To find out more about the Oldham Foodbank visit https://oldham.foodbank.org.uk/locations/