Posted: Fri 5th Feb 2016

Welsh Government introduces free swimming for Armed Forces /
This article is old - Published: Friday, Feb 5th, 2016

Free swimming for Armed Forces and veterans is the latest initiative to be launched by the Welsh Government as part of its Package of Support for the Armed Forces Community. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The Welsh Government is providing up to £100,000 over two years to the Welsh Local Government Association to ensure all Local Authorities in Wales have a local scheme in place offering free swimming for anyone currently serving or who has served in the Armed Forces. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Swimming is known to improve all-round fitness levels, with the added health benefits of reducing the risk of chronic illness, helping to keep weight under control and improving physical and mental well-being. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Over recent years, the Welsh Government has strengthened its support for the Armed Forces community, including investing in a unique NHS service for Veterans in Wales and extending council tax relief. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The Deputy Minister for Culture Sport and Tourism, Ken Skates, and Public Services Minister, Leighton Andrews will be at Risca Leisure Centre today to officially launch the nationwide roll-out of the scheme. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The Deputy Minister said: “Participating in sport has many health benefits, both physically and mentally, and swimming in particular is recognised for its all-round improvements to fitness and well-being. I am delighted that through our partnership with local government we are able to offer this support to those serving in the Armed Forces and our veterans, in recognition of their immense service to our country.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Public Services Minister, Leighton Andrews said:“I’m pleased to announce this extension to our Package of Support. We are providing funding to Local Authorities to help them provide free swimming for the Armed Forces and veterans. This demonstrates again, our commitment to supporting the Armed Forces Community in Wales.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Phil Jones, Area Manager Wales, The Royal British Legion said: “We welcome this addition to the package of support offered to the Armed Forces Community in Wales, it shows the continued commitment of both the Welsh Government and Local Authorities in Wales to the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant and Community Covenant schemes. We hope many veterans in Wales are now able to take advantage of this scheme.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Cllr. Keith Reynolds, Leader of Caerphilly County Borough Council, said: “I am delighted that Caerphilly was chosen as a host venue to launch Welsh Governments Armed Forces Free Swimming Wales initiative. In Caerphilly county we extended our Free Swim Initiative to include current and retired Armed Forces Personnel in 2013 across all of our Leisure Centres and we have had great success with it. I think it is a fantastic that Welsh Government are supporting local authorities to roll out this scheme Wales wide.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Extending the Free Swimming Scheme to Veterans and Serving Armed Forces Personnel is a Programme for Government commitment. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Members of the Armed Forces and Veterans will be eligible for free swimming using their Defence Privilege Card, available through the Ministry of Defence’s Defence Discount Service, at participating leisure centres. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

A campaign to promote the Defence Discount Service and its Privilege Card in Wales was launched by the Minister for Public Services in November 2014. Since then there has been a significant increase in the number of people signing up to the service in Wales, rising from 9,734 members when the campaign launched to 16,666 – an increase of 71%. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The Defence Discount Service provides online savings to eligible members, while those who also sign up for the Defence Privilege Card can use it in stores and in the Leisure Centres as well. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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