Better leisure centres throughout Cornwall are offering Ukrainian refugees free centre membership, or a lesson or course membership, for a fixed three-month period.

The scheme is open to refugees who were living in the Ukraine prior to January 2022, along with all other international refugees who have been granted refugee or asylum status by the UK Government.

Operating under the Better brand, GLL is a not-for-profit social enterprise that runs Cornwall’s leisure centres on behalf of Cornwall Council. 

“We have all been very moved by the terrible things that have been happening in Ukraine and wanted to do something to help,” said James Curry, Head of Service for GLL in Cornwall.  “Exercise is known to have both physical and mental health benefits and we’re hoping that what we’re doing can play a small part in making refugees’ experience of life in the UK as positive as possible.”

Applications to the scheme can be made by the individuals concerned, their family hosts or charities and organisations acting on their behalf.

The Cornwall Refugee and Resource Network (CRRN) will be helping GLL promote the opportunity to all those eligible within the local area.

A CRRN spokesperson said: “Being able to access a local leisure centre not only provides health benefits, but also offers opportunities to build confidence, socialise and feel part of the community, which are essential to feeling truly welcome in a new area. 

“We’re proud to support this initiative and it’s brilliant to see GLL demonstrate inclusive leadership by ensuring that all refugees and asylum seekers can benefit, not only those from Ukraine.”

There are two options on offer. Firstly, a Better Health Centre membership for those wanting to take part in exercise classes or use facilities like the gym and swimming pool and secondly a lesson or course membership. There are no age restrictions and all Better-operated facilities across the UK are participating.

To apply, email supportedmembership@gll.org or supportedlessonandcourse@gll.org and attach proof of eligibility. This can be a Home Office letter confirming refugee or asylum status, a Ukrainian Family Scheme Visa or proof of application to the UK Government as a Ukrainian refugee.