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All change for disabled swimmers

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A BRAND new disabled changing area was opened to the public today at the Copeland Pool and Fitness Centre.

Mayor Mike Starkie cut the ribbon at the fantastic new facility in Hensingham, alongside Georgina Ternent, public health locality manager at Cumbria County Council.

The changing rooms, which cost around £60,000, have been funded by Copeland Borough Council and the County Council's Changing Places Fund. They offer unrivalled facilities for people with a whole range of disabilities and are available to visitors who may not even be using the pool or gym.

Included are a hoist, underfloor heating, easy access shower, adult-sized changing table, non-slip flooring, contrasting surface colours and other features. There are also two new disabled parking spaces.

The Copeland Pool and Fitness Centre is operated on Copeland Council's behalf by Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) under their 'Better' brand.

Mayor Starkie said: "I am extremely excited to open these fantastic facilities today - they will open up so many leisure facilities to people who could not access them before. Everyone deserves to access services with as much ease and dignity as possible. This project has been a great example of partnership working and I'd like to pay tribute for the funding and work put in by the County Council , GLL and Copeland Disability Forum."

Georgina Ternent, Cumbria County Council’s Public Health Manager for Copeland, added: ““I’m so pleased to be here today to see the opening of this fantastic facility. The County Council’s Changing Places Fund cannot alone achieve these outcomes and through working with our partners to bring together funding and support it has enabled these new facilities. It’s great to see the difference they can make. Disabled people can face serious challenges getting out and about and enjoying the day-to-day activities many of us take for granted. These new facilities should make a huge difference to disabled leisure centre users and their families. Copeland Pool is the third facility of this kind funded by Cumbria County Council, one at Kendal Leisure Centre and one just about to open at the Lanes Shopping Centre in Carlisle.”

Derek Jones, Partnership Manager for GLL, said: “GLL are proud to be working in partnership with Copeland Borough Council. The new changing facilities will be a great asset, supporting the local community and beyond.”

The project was funded by around £45,000 from Copeland Borough Council and £15,000 from the Cumbria County Council Changing Places fund.

This scheme project supports Copeland Council's core value of 'treating everyone equally, fairly and with respect,' and supports the council's pledge to 'continually review services to ensure they meet the needs of Copeland and ensure they are efficient and effective.

You can find out more about the Changing Places scheme here:

Present at the opening were: Elected Mayor of Copeland Mike Starkie, Peter Johnson (Chair of Copeland's GLL board,) Eric Urquhart of the Copeland  Disability Forum, Julie Betteridge (Director of Customers and Communities at Copeland Borough Council,) Georgina Ternent (public health locality manager at Cumbria County Council,) Alan Burns (manager, Copeland Pool and Fitness Centre,) Derek Jones (GLL's Copeland partnership manager,) Caroline Smith (GLL's active communities manager, South Lakes and Copeland,) Amy Lister and Craig Penman (both of contractors Ashcroft, who built the room,) and Susan Blair and Steven Beggs, who managed the project on behalf of Copeland Borough Council.