Why we have signed up for Community Leisure UK’s Seriously Social campaign

Putting people above profit, supporting their health and wellbeing, along with caring for our community and the environment, are all passions that drive us on in everything we do at Burnley Leisure and Culture (BLC).


That’s why we were quick to sign up for the first ever Seriously Social campaign that spells out the brilliant work being done by charitable trusts like BLC up and down the UK.


Seriously Social has been organised by a national body called Community Leisure UK. Starting on Monday 27th May – each day of the week will focus on a theme to show how not-for-profit companies like ours help create social impact that contributes to happier, healthier communities.


The themes include health and wellbeing, the environment, inclusion, community, employment and skills.


Seriously Social couldn’t have been better timed as BLC celebrates its 10th anniversary as a charity, first formed to operate the majority of leisure facilities in the borough previously managed by Burnley Council’s sport and culture services.


Working in partnership with the council, we are responsible for the operation, management and development of St Peter’s and Padiham leisure centres, Prairie Sports Village, Barden athletics track, Thompson Park boating lake, Burnley Mechanics Theatre, numerous hospitality venues and Towneley golf courses and clubhouse, along with borough-wide arts development, community health and wellbeing, sport and play development.


BLC – a business with a purpose


Scott Bryce, our Head of Group Operations, says: “Our core business isn’t about making profit; it’s about purpose – helping people first. Supporting society to get healthier and happier, employing local people, creating safe spaces for everybody, connecting communities, working towards net zero and supporting people with quality health and wellbeing services for everybody regardless of age or ability.


“Seriously Social is a brilliant way to showcase not only the difference we make but also why we do what we do.”


Our not-for-profit status means all of our surplus revenue is reinvested in our services and facilities, such as the £750,000 refurbishment of our gyms and swimming pool changing areas at Padiham at St Peter’s.


We take the lead on the Beat the Street, #OutdoorTown and have been responsible for the planting of about 7,000 saplings throughout the borough over the winter months. We support local health initiatives such as Up and Active and healthy weight loss programmes.


The BLC swim academy welcomes 4,200 children every year, while our work in every one of the borough’s 32 primary schools touches the lives of 4,000 pupils.


The latest additions to our community support programme include the Down Town Kitchen & Café in Burnley town centre, as part of Burnley Together, and the Active Cycles pop-up shop in Charter Walk in partnership with Active Lancashire.


As part of the lead up to Burnley’s Year of Culture in 2027, we have just launched the Culture Burnley Awards recognising the borough’s cultural organisations and individuals.


The awards night will take place at the Burnley Mechanics Theatre in September – just two months after the annual Active Burnley Awards (ABA), which celebrate health, sporting and wellbeing activities and achievements at all levels across the borough.


But what really inspires us, is when we stop for a moment and focus on the people all this is for.


Our first full impact and evaluation report looks beyond the scheme names and descriptions and tells how our work benefits individuals – people like:


  • Retired mates Mick Ryan and Alan Heaton, who both started taking part in our Active Football sessions in 2017.
  • Danny Tattersall, who’s been volunteering with BLC for nine years.
  • Justine Taylor, a former ABA winner, whose life we’ve touched on in many ways since her husband bought her a BLC membership, and her daughter Olivia, who has severe learning difficulties.
  • Steve Macfarlane who moved to Burnley as a stranger and found golf and friendship at Towneley.


You can read all their stories and more here.


Putting our own people above profit


BLC commits to being a Real Living Wage employer and we offer an industry-leading pension scheme, 20% off food and drink at our hospitality venues for friends and family, free leisure and wellbeing memberships, and the BLC Helping Hands employee support scheme.


All staff who work for BLC undertake a wide range of training and development each year with most of the courses being completed though Burnley Council’s learning and development portal.


And last, but certainly not least, we are extremely proud of the healthy number of apprenticeships we have facilitated over the years and continue to do so.


But it’s not just about spelling out what we do…


The Seriously Social campaign has a seriously important message for politicians locally and nationally – as well as anyone else with a vested interest in helping people live healthier, happier and longer lives – and that is to support us, and other trusts like us, to be even greater forces for good.


That’s why we are asking government for:


  • Leisure and cultural services to be valued as wellbeing services with a robust commitment to multi-year funding to protect and sustain our core public services.
  • Include charitable trusts and social enterprises in community health and wellbeing planning at a strategic level locally, as opposed to viewing them solely as a delivery partner.
  • Recognise social enterprises and charitable trusts as valued partners for local authorities in the delivery of public leisure and culture, prioritising a long-term partnership approach to offer stability and continuity.
  • Commit to fund public leisure and culture services to enable operators to pay the Real Living Wage as a minimum.
  • Put social value at the heart of any commissioning of services, particularly public services with an inherent social value in their purpose and recognise impacts as being beyond purely financial.
  • Invest in ageing leisure and cultural stock (where it is still in use) to ensure they can operate efficiently with new greener technologies, safeguarding them for future generations.


In return, we promise to:


  • Support communities to be healthier, happier and more creative.
  • Connect and collaborate with NHS colleagues and health care professionals to enhance referral pathways and improve outcomes in population health.
  • Work closely with local authority partners as part of a whole systems approach to achieve shared outcomes and create a cohesive and connected community.
  • Offer fair work opportunities with career pathways that focus on equality and diversity in the charitable trust and social enterprise sector.
  • Be a key part of the social economy; work with partners to understand the inherent social value in public services and to embed social value monitoring and evaluation as standard.
  • Support local authorities to achieve their net zero targets and commit to environmental awareness training for all staff.


A word from Community Leisure UK


Kirsty Cumming, CEO of Community Leisure UK, says: “Our members don’t just deliver public leisure and cultural services, they support social change for the better every day of the week, 365 days a year.


“As social enterprises and charities, they put people above profit. They are run by local people and have everyone’s best interests at heart.


“Seriously Social is about showcasing how they go above and beyond supporting individuals and communities.


“This is a selfless sector, quietly going about supporting people and communities every day. Not because it makes them money, but because it’s the right thing to do. And we thought it was high time more people know about the great work they do and the difference they make.”


For more information visit seriouslysocial.org.uk


About Community Leisure UK – Community Leisure UK is the members’ association that specialises in charitable trusts delivering public leisure and culture services across the UK.

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