Salsa, fencing and a gospel choir. Not your average leisure centre programme, but Dawn and her team aren’t cut from the average cloth.
Ladywood isn’t your typical leisure centre. With Dawn at the helm, things are done a little differently down at the facility in Birmingham, UK.
As deputy partnership manager for Serco Leisure, Dawn became involved in a framework to deliver four new leisure centres across the city of Birmingham, jumping at the chance to positively impact the lives of those living in their communities – Ladywood in particular, where unemployment is high.
Under Dawn’s stewardship, the centre has become the nucleus of Ladywood. The hub is the final piece of the puzzle for the series of four new leisure centres delivered by ISG for Serco Leisure on behalf of Birmingham Community Leisure Trust, bringing local people together through accessible exercise and leisure facilities. Not only does Ladywood offer local residents 30 free activity hours a week and support schools with swimming programmes, the centre is doing its bit to ease unemployment in the area, with 50% of its staff joining through the local Jobcentre Plus.
Ladywood Leisure Centre has galvanised its community, just like its counterparts in Erdington, Stechford and Northfield – and Dawn has been integral to them all.
When you think of a leisure centre, often you think of a swimming pool, rows of treadmills and the odd aerobics class. At Ladywood Leisure Centre though, Dawn and her team are making sure the community know there is more to it than meets the eye.
Ladywood Leisure Centre is a safe place for the local community to socialise. It’s not just your typical swimming lessons either – it might be the all-women Muslim fencing group that meets once a week, getting involved in the chess club or perhaps attending a salsa class with Thomas and his committed group of beginners – all in high-tech, contemporary exercise and leisure facilities.
For ISG, the centre at Ladywood marked the end of a series of successful leisure centres delivered around the city as part of the Birmingham Sports and Leisure Facilities Framework. Being the last of four to be completed on time and on budget, following centres in Erdington, Stechford and Northfield, the project benefited from Dawn and her team’s understanding of how the other three centres were being used across the city to ensure the right offering was delivered for the people of Ladywood.
“It's a striking modern leisure facility but, much more than that, it represents an opportunity in many different ways for the people of Ladywood to work, socialise, learn and improve their wellbeing.”
“ISG bought into what we were trying to achieve from the outset and understood that improving the lives of our people was fundamental,” explains Dawn. “The centre was built from this mindset and at each touchpoint we discussed both the end users and those involved in the delivery of the project.”
The centre at Ladywood, which was part-funded by Sport England, is part of a city-wide investment to provide Birmingham residents with high-tech, modern leisure and exercise facilities. The new £8.5m sports and fitness facility offers local residents access to a 135-station gym, 25-metre swimming pool, teaching pool, dance studio, relaxation, sauna and steam areas and a café – it’s also a centre of excellence for competitive swimming, with timing equipment for competitive events and seating for up to 250 spectators.
“ISG bought into what we were trying to achieve from the outset and understood that improving the lives of our people was fundamental.”
ISG project manager, Craig Johnson, says that the finished article is one that he’s extremely proud of. “The thing I’m most proud of, particularly with the work at Ladywood Leisure Centre, is that I’m leaving behind a legacy that really impacts the lives of others,” he beams. “Dawn and the team make us feel so welcome whenever we return here.”
Each of the leisure centres for Birmingham City Council have been designed to maximise their impact on the local community, environment and economy, including minimising lifecycle costs in line with the council’s sustainability agenda.
The centres all feature advanced and highly efficient mechanical and electrical services infrastructure to reduce running costs and carbon emissions, while high-performance insulation materials and extensive glazed elevations maximise natural-light volume.
Heat-recovery systems reduce the overall heating demand for its new generation swimming pools, and low water-consumption sanitary-ware further champions sustainability in the centres.
The framework is a clear demonstration of Birmingham City Council’s commitment to modernising its leisure infrastructure, and the appointment of the highly experienced Serco and ISG consortium is a key element in the provision of outstanding community leisure facilities, driving increased levels of participation.
The community is feeling the impact already. Provision of 30 hours’ worth of free activity has had a positive impact on the residents of Ladywood, with many reporting that getting out and socialising has been key in improving their mental and physical health and wellbeing. In addition, Dawn and her team have been able to support 22 local schools with learn-to-swim programmes, a vital provision which had been missing from the city for many years.
“The thing I’m most proud of, particularly with the work at Ladywood Leisure Centre, is that I’m leaving behind a legacy that really impacts the lives of others.”
Craig Johnson, Project Manager
Dawn, who is the deputy partnership manager for Serco Leisure, commented: “The site of the new Ladywood Leisure Centre was previously derelict brown land. Now it’s a striking modern leisure facility but, much more than that, it represents an opportunity in many different ways for the people of Ladywood to work, socialise, learn and improve their wellbeing, and that makes me immensely proud.
She finishes: “As a team, we can all be very proud of the legacy we are leaving in Ladywood.”
From the very start, using a framework procurement approach enabled ISG to drive efficiencies throughout the intensive works programme, encouraging collaboration, project learning and promoting best practices. This efficient methodology set the conditions for success from the outset, enabling us to deliver each of the four leisure centres ahead of schedule and within budget.