Leisure Link

A partnership providing free use of leisure facilities in areas across Scotland, including Aberdeen, is back in action.

Award-winning charity Sport Aberdeen is part of the Leisure Link Partnership which gives its members access to gym, public swimming and fitness classes at participating leisure facilities in Argyll and Bute, the Borders, Highlands, Moray, Orkney, and the Western Isles at no extra cost to their existing membership.

Leisure Link was created so that people working away from home or on holiday can use local facilities from participating areas as part of their existing home-based membership.

David Selkirk, Sport Aberdeen Director of Community Leisure Operations, said: “I’m delighted that the Leisure Link Partnership is back, giving our members increased flexibility and even more opportunities to get active and I hope the added value that this brings encourages people to keep up with a healthy and active lifestyle whether on holiday in Scotland or away for work.”

Sport Aberdeen runs over 30 citywide venues and delivers more than thirty-five different activities for people of all ages and abilities.

Those making use of the scheme are asked to check directly with the site they are planning to visit whether advanced booking is necessary. For more information and to check out which facilities are included, click here.

Award-winning charity Sport Aberdeen has issued its latest annual report; highlighting the resilience of community sport and the people behind the north-east’s largest leisure provider throughout a “year like no other”.

The 2020/21 report reveals that even whilst venues were forced to close due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Sport Aberdeen continued to ensure that local people could stay active.

The charity was able to loan equipment to 150 customers, including over 80 body pump kits, 700kg of dumbbells and, 100 step blocks while over 100 live online fitness classes were delivered as part of a free Get active @ Home programme.

Sport Aberdeen’s Active Schools team supported children of key workers and vulnerable young people in 10 schools across the city and were able to support the delivery of several educational hubs, providing over 5,400 hours of assistance.

Almost 250 sports packs were delivered to care experienced children and young people as part of an initiative in partnership with Children 1st and Sport Aberdeen’s SPACE (Supported Physical Activity for Care Experienced) project.

The project, delivered in partnership with Aberdeen City Council, was recognised in the category ‘Developing and Supporting Communities during Covid-19’ at the ukactive Awards 2021 in August, capping off a successful year for Sport Aberdeen and highlighting the impact that it’s had on the community throughout the course of the pandemic.

Tony Dawson, Sport Aberdeen Chairman, said: “This has been a year like no other and so much has changed in this relatively short period of time, but there is so much that Sport Aberdeen can be proud of.

“The recognition of the advantages of living a healthy lifestyle has perhaps been one of the few positives to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, a shift in attitude which is long overdue, and I’m pleased to say that we have, and we will, continue to keep Aberdeen active.

“The dedication of each member of the Sport Aberdeen team who remained at work during this time was just fantastic and I am personally very proud of our response and the support we provided to our community during this time.”

Alistair Robertson, managing director of Sport Aberdeen, said: “This report highlights the successes of an extremely challenging year, but it also serves as a reminder of how powerful community sport and physical activity can be, particularly in the face of such adversity. Not even a pandemic could stop us creating opportunities, inspiring people and changing lives through sport and physical activity.

“I want to pay tribute to everyone for coping, adapting and responding to our city, which was in crisis and in need of our help. We have absolutely risen to the challenge and met head on all that has been thrown at us, demonstrating great resilience throughout these unprecedented times, which has helped keep Sport Aberdeen afloat.

“During times of so much uncertainty we have managed to not only survive but have come out of the pandemic in a positive position. It has been the resilience and fortitude shown by our people in our community, and everyone who works with and for our charity that has allowed us to continue to play our part in the city’s recovery. Collectively, we have achieved so much, and we are a credit to the city of Aberdeen.”

You can view Sport Aberdeen’s full 2020/21 annual report here.

Police Scotland’s North East Division and award-winning charity Sport Aberdeen have teamed up with local organisations to host an event aimed at encouraging more young people to make the most of opportunities available to them throughout the city.

The initiative will focus on mitigating anti-social behaviour among young people by encouraging them to take part in local youth clubs, activities and participate in sport and adventurous activity.

The Police and Partners Youth Event will take place at Adventure Aberdeen Snowsports Centre in Garthdee on Saturday 18 September and run from 18:00 – 21:00.

Participants will have the opportunity to engage with local organisations and sign up to clubs and activities whilst taking part in free interactive stations including Transition Extreme’s climbing wall. ASDA and Sainsburys will provide refreshments free of charge for participants.

Adventure Aberdeen, part of Sport Aberdeen, operates the city’s only dry ski slope and will be offering free ski, snowboard and tubing taster sessions for up to 100 participants on a first come first served basis. Participants are encouraged to wear suitable clothing and bring gloves if they intend on taking part in the dry slope activities on offer.

North East Division officers will be manning the event alongside a number of other local organisations including:

  • Sport Aberdeen
  • Aberdeen Boat Club
  • Girl Guides
  • Aberdeen City Council youth work team
  • Transition Extreme
  • Boys Brigade
  • Sea Cadets
  • Capoeira club (Brazilian martial arts)
  • Street Sports
  • Goals
  • Army Cadets
  • Armed Forces recruitment office
  • Police Youth Volunteers

PC Gavin Haigh, from Nigg Community Policing Team, said: “This is a great opportunity for the local community, clubs and businesses to come together for an informal evening. Everyone is welcome along to find out more about any of the clubs or representatives at the event. We hope to showcase some of the rewarding activities that young people can become involved with, rather than engaging in antisocial behaviour.

“I am encouraged to see so many local groups wanting to take part and thank them all for their involvement and support.”

Graeme Dale, Sport Aberdeen Head of Sport and Active Communities, said: “This is a great example of local partners coming together to encourage more young people to make the most of the abundance of sporting and other opportunities the city has to offer.

“We are delighted to be hosting the event at our Adventure Aberdeen Snowsports Centre and hope that our ski, snowboard and tubing taster sessions might inspire more young people to take up these exciting outdoor sports.

“Sport Aberdeen offers physical activity opportunities for everyone regardless of age or ability from the age of four upwards and our Active Starts and Active Futures memberships give young people access to swim, golf and tennis in the heart of Aberdeen. We really believe that participation in sport has the power to positively change young people’s lives.”

Funding has been officially extended to allow for an award-winning initiative to continue to provide opportunities for care experienced and looked after children in the Granite City.

SPACE (Supported Physical Activity for Care Experienced) is an innovative project delivered by registered charity Sport Aberdeen, which uses the positive benefits of sport and physical activity to help care experienced children and young people reach their full potential through bespoke interventions.

The project was the first of its kind in Scotland and is the evolution of the ‘Looked After Project’ which began in August 2016 in partnership with Aberdeen City Council, supporting children to get active while improving their confidence and physical and mental wellbeing. Aberdeen City Council is currently corporate parent to 520 children and young people.

Working together, Sport Aberdeen and Aberdeen City Council’s Integrated Children’s and Family Services aim to provide support for participants to achieve positive destinations utilising sport as a catalyst for positive change.

Following a four-year investment in the initiative, Aberdeen City Council have extended the agreement for a further year which will allow for two project activators to continue to support participants.

Graeme Dale, Sport Aberdeen Head of Sport and Active Communities, said: “I am extremely proud of the positive changes that the project has introduced over the last four years and with the funding extension we can reach even more young people throughout the city and improve physical and mental wellbeing through sport and physical activity. The impact that the programme has on the lives of our participants is fantastic, we have seen dramatic changes in the lives of our cared for young people.

“This is a really exciting time for SPACE as we announce the official rebrand, which was heavily influenced by the participants, ensuring that we have young people at the very heart of what we do. The rebrand also represents the expansion of the programme with it linking more closely with the Active Schools programme to increase capacity. The extension of funding is testament to the hard work of the project activators out in the community and all staff that have been involved behind the scenes.

As a corporate parent Sport Aberdeen has the power to positively impact the lives of young people within the care of Aberdeen City Council, and through partnership working it is my hope that this initiative will continue to thrive.”

One young person enjoyed a walking group, set up in response to the pandemic, so much that he is starting to lead sessions, plan routes and has expressed interest in ‘helping the local community access this activity to combat loneliness’. This same young person was referred to the project to build relationships and social skills, which he now talks positively about. “[He is] excited to return to school for the social aspect. He walks with confidence and is now wearing designer clothes. His PE teacher has also commented on his improved fitness.” – Foster Parent

Another young person added: “This opportunity has been great for me and I am so thankful for the experience.”

Larissa Gordon, Virtual School Head Teacher, added: “Sport Aberdeen is a great example of a Corporate Parent and constantly look to do more to support our care experienced young people. During the pandemic they have adapted to ensure that they can continue to offer support where it is needed most within our community. This has had a huge impact and the SPACE programme has been vital in supporting the mental and physical health of some of our most at-risk young people during this period.”

The project was recently named winner at the ukactive Awards 2021, a UK wide awards ceremony celebrating the active lifestyle sector.

An Aberdeen partnership has launched a brand-new initiative encouraging people to get active this September in the hope of reducing social isolation whilst improving mental and physical wellbeing.

‘Step out September’ is a campaign to encourage people of all ages and abilities from across the city to take part in safe and local activity, meet new people, and improve their wellbeing.

Step out September is a partnership project between Bon Accord Care, ACVO, Aberdeen City Health & Social Care Partnership and Sport Aberdeen and is part of ‘Stay Well Stay Connected’ which has an aim to promote better health and wellbeing, develop meaningful community relationships, promote better inclusion and help reduce social isolation.

A range of gentle social walks will take place from 13 to 19 September with a key aim of connecting people in some of Aberdeen’s open spaces.

The initiative is open to people of all abilities; if you use a wheelchair, use walking aids or if you are pushing a buggy, you’re encouraged to take part and enjoy the social aspect. No special equipment is required although participants are encouraged to bring a jacket and wear comfy shoes.

Andrinne Craig, Sport Aberdeen Healthy Communities Manager, said:

“We are really excited to launch Step out September and this is a fantastic example of partnership working, and the first opportunity these organisations have had to work together out in the community since the pandemic.

“Alongside a full timetable of social walks taking place, we have pulled together a free resource pack of alternative activities for anyone who cannot get outside to participate in the walks. We want to break down barriers and ensure everyone in Aberdeen, regardless of age or ability, can get active and connect with others in some way shape or form this September, and beyond.

“For many people the pandemic has been a period of isolation and activity levels have dropped. It is our hope that Step out September will act as a starting point for people to reengage with the community and get out and connect once again, in a safe and enjoyable way. Together we can, and we will, walk and talk our way back to wellbeing!”

Alison Wills Operations Director at Bon Accord Care Ltd, said:

“Keeping active is vital in helping keep people fit, healthy and independent. We will be encouraging our residents and service users to take part in the walks and if they prefer to stay indoors, we will point them in the direction of the alternative activity pack. We think the sock boccia sound great!”

A full timetable of citywide walks and more information is available to view here and additional walks are being added regularly.

We want to include as many people as possible and realise that not everyone can get outside just now, we have lots of ideas and free resources for your use on our website so that we can all take part. Click here to view and download our free Alternative Activity Guide.

Social walking group

Step out September Pledge

By pledging to take part in Step out September, you are playing your part in helping us work towards a healthier, happier, and more active city and community.

We would love to know what you are doing to celebrate Step out September so please send any photographs to SWSC@aberdeencity.gov.uk and you can share your own Step out September stories and photographs on social media using #SoS2021

Sport Aberdeen has been named as a winner at the ukactive Awards 2021, a UK wide awards ceremony celebrating the active lifestyle sector, which took place virtually on Thursday 12 August.

Sport Aberdeen’s SPACE (Supported Physical Activity for Care Experienced) project, delivered in partnership with Aberdeen City Council, has been recognised in the category ‘Developing and Supporting Communities during Covid-19’.

SPACE is an innovative project delivered by Sport Aberdeen, which uses the positive benefits of sport and physical activity to help care experienced children and young people reach their full potential through bespoke interventions.

The project was the first of its kind in Scotland and is the evolution of the ‘Looked After Project’ which began in August 2016 in partnership with Aberdeen City Council.  As a corporate parent, Sport Aberdeen has a commitment to over 450 care experienced young people within the care of Aberdeen City Council.

Working together, Sport Aberdeen and Aberdeen City Council’s Integrated Children’s and Family Services aim to provide support for participants to achieve positive destinations utilising sport as a catalyst for positive change. 

The project mentors the city’s most vulnerable children and young people who would otherwise have little or no access to many opportunities. These opportunities include boxing, cycling, horse-riding and accessing local greenspaces alongside free-of-charge membership to Sport Aberdeen’s citywide gyms.

During the first Covid-19 lockdown, Project Activators were deployed into educational hubs, established to support children living in vulnerable situations. In total, 1,095 hours were spent directly impacting three hubs, with another 5,000 hours of Active Schools, part of Sport Aberdeen, time supporting children and young people across six hubs for children of keyworkers, and Orchard Brae School.

“I am absolutely thrilled that the SPACE project has been recognised at a UK level and this achievement is really a testament to the hard work and determination of everyone who works to make this project so successful.

Graeme Dale

Graeme Dale, Sport Aberdeen Head of Sport and Active Communities, said: “The impact that SPACE has had on young people, improving physical and mental wellbeing through sport and physical activity, has been incredible and with wider recognition it is my hope that we can continue to grow and develop this initiative and reach even more children and young people across the north-east alongside our partners, Aberdeen City Council.”

Councillor Jenny Laing, leader of Aberdeen City Council, added: “As a council we are proud to be a partner in the SPACE project, which has harnessed the city’s sports and leisure offering as a way of helping care experienced children young people reach their full potential.

“Exercise and activity – whether that’s participating in team games or accessing green spaces – can greatly enhance physical and mental wellbeing, and this brilliant initiative could not have been more timely. Staff at the council and Sport Aberdeen, along with community supporters, thoroughly deserve to be recognised for their efforts.”

Two award-winning Granite City charities have teamed up to deliver relaxed canoeing sessions for children of all abilities as part of a free activity programme this summer.

Aberdeen City Council’s Summer of Play programme aims to support the wellbeing of children and young people across the city who have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sport Aberdeen is one of several partners offering a huge range of free activities based on what young people and their families said they missed most during lockdown.

In partnership with award-winning charity We Too!, an organisation which empowers families of children with disabilities in the north-east, Sport Aberdeen has been delivering relaxed canoeing sessions at the city’s historic Rubislaw Quarry, specifically designed to allow children of all abilities to enjoy the sport in a safe and welcoming environment.

We Too! has supported Adventure Aberdeen staff with additional training and resource packs and each family session has had an additional staff member on hand to help support all participants.  

This has been a very challenging year and it is so important to support young people of all abilities not only in reconnecting with family and friends but also by giving them the opportunity to try something completely new.

Graeme Dale

Graeme Dale, Sport Aberdeen Head of Sport and Active Communities, said: “We are thrilled to be offering such a diverse range of free sporting and outdoor activities as part of the Summer of Play programme and by working in partnership with We Too! we have been able to extend our offering even further.

“Our relaxed canoeing sessions, delivered by specifically trained staff, create a safe place for young people with additional support needs to take part in a fun activity in a breath-taking setting alongside family members completely free of charge and the response we have had has been fantastic.”

Depute Lord Provost, Councillor Jennifer Stewart was at Rubislaw Quarry to see the adventure activity at first hand. She said: “It was wonderful to be at Rubislaw and see the participants experiencing the freedom of being on holiday, of being outside and enjoying adventure – a true gift of experience.

“We’ve had a tremendous response from children and young people to our huge and unprecedented Summer of Play. It’s such a pleasure to be able to provide our young people with the fun and enjoyment that they have missed over the last year.

“With partners such as Sport Aberdeen and WeToo! Aberdeen City Council is delivering the biggest tailor-made programme of play and creative activities in our history. Importantly, as we work towards becoming a UNICEF-recognised Child Friendly City, the Summer of Play has been co-designed by our children and young people who told us exactly which activities they have most missed because of the impact of the pandemic.”

It’s been wonderful to strengthen our existing partnership with Sport Aberdeen, delivering our Summer of Play offering to children with additional support needs within the city. 

Phionna McInnes

Phionna McInnes, Chief Executive of We Too! added: “The feedback has been incredible from families who have been unable to attend previous sessions, not just due to the pandemic, but also due to shielding, young carers roles and financial considerations. Fantastic, positive memories are being made this summer by all families within the area and we are delighted to be able to play our part.”

The Summer of Play programme sees a huge range of activities, completely free to participants, across the city from sports to science, arts and crafts to interaction with the city’s wildlife and green spaces.

The activities are based on a consultation undertaken by Aberdeen City Council with children and young people being directly involved in shaping the programme, suggesting activities they missed most during lockdown and the activities they most wanted to get back to when restrictions eased.

The involvement of children and young people is a key element of Aberdeen’s ongoing work towards becoming a UNICEF-recognised Child Friendly City.

The priorities for access to the programme are those, including low-income families, who have experienced the most significant negative impacts associated with extended periods of isolation and lack of participation in normal activities during the pandemic.

Award-winning charity Sport Aberdeen has launched a brand-new residential outdoor instructor training programme with the hope of inspiring the next generation of adventurous leaders.

The Adventure Speyside Instructor Training Academy, set in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park, is led by the charity’s Adventure Aberdeen instructors who are among the best in the country at their chosen sports and are passionate about passing on their skills and knowledge.

The residential course takes on six participants, aged 18 and over, per programme and runs for 14 weeks.

Over the course of the programme, National Governing Body awards will be gained in:

  • First Aid at Work
  • Foundation Safety Rescue Training
  • Paddlesport Instructor
  • White Water Safety Rescue
  • Level 2 Mountain Bike
  • Summer Mountain Leader Award
  • Rock Climbing Instructor Training

Participants will also be fully trained as coasteering and gorge walking leaders and learn skills in the following activities: hill walking, scrambling, rock climbing, canoeing, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, sea kayaking, gorge walking, coasteering, mountain biking, team building activities, orienteering and wilderness skills.

We are really excited about launching our brand-new training academy and it is my hope that it will inspire budding outdoor instructors to take the leap and dive into what for me, has become a dream job.

Mike Gifford

Mike Gifford, Adventure Aberdeen Manager, said: “Enrolling in the Adventure Speyside Instructor Training Academy will provide a unique opportunity in a breath-taking setting and participants will leave with real and exciting employment prospects, with opportunities to become part of the Adventure Aberdeen team.

“Whether you are looking for an alternative to university or have decided to re-skill in the wake of the pandemic, we really hope to encourage the next generation of outdoor leaders in the north and north-east of Scotland.”

On completion of the course participants will be given the opportunity to interview to become an Adventure Aberdeen and Adventure Speyside Outdoor Instructor, providing adventurous activity across the north-east of Scotland for people of all ages and abilities.

For further information please click here or email adventureaberdeen@sportaberdeen.co.uk

Award-winning charity Sport Aberdeen has been able to offer a number of educational outdoor activity days for children in the city thanks to funding received from Aberdeen City Council.

Almost five weeks of outdoor and adventurous activity sessions have been organised by Adventure Aberdeen, part of Sport Aberdeen, for children and young people who would otherwise not have access to these opportunities.

Up to 80 children and families can take part in activities each week ranging from forest walks and wilderness skills to hill walking and gorge walking. Participants will also have the opportunity to try canoeing at the city’s historic Rubislaw Quarry culminating in a family fun day at the end of the programme.

Active families fund wilderness skills forest walk

Participants taking part in a wilderness skills and forest walk session

Children and young people have been identified through close partnership working with key children’s services across Aberdeen City including Action for Children -Aberdeen Priority Families, Barnardo’s and Intensive Support at Craigielea.

We are really pleased to be working in partnership with several children’s services throughout the city, giving families who would perhaps not ordinarily have the chance to take part in these types of outdoor activities this summer the opportunity to do so.

Graeme Dale

Graeme Dale, Sport Aberdeen Head of Sport and Active Communities, said: “We have a fantastic outdoor activity offering on our doorstep and thanks to funding received we are able to facilitate five weeks of adventurous and educational sessions this summer.

“Working together with key services allows us to target and reach more children and young people and it is my hope that this initiative will help to inspire more young people to get out and get active while making the most of the amazing natural landscape that we are fortunate to have around us.”

Mary-Louise Clipston, Northern Star Project Worker (Barnardo’s), who attended one of the forest walk and wilderness skills sessions, said: “I went along on the forest walk with a 9-year-old boy who I work with. I was a little nervous that a child whose main interests are Fortnite and football might not find it very interesting… but it quickly became clear there was no cause for concern!

“The time whizzed past as we explored nature, played games, learned how to safely light fires, and had a den building contest. This particular child has very little opportunity to engage in these sorts of activities and I have no doubt that the chance to access these events will positively impact his wellbeing.”

Registered charity Sport Aberdeen has been announced as a finalist in two categories for the Northern Star Business Awards, Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce’s annual celebration of business success across the region.

Now in their 18th year, the awards recognise companies in the north-east for their exceptional accomplishments across a range of fields from internationalisation and innovation to people development, environmental action and customer service.

The north-east’s largest leisure trust has been shortlisted as a finalist in the ‘Making the Difference’ category, recognising the charity’s commitment to positive change within the community, and the ‘Rising Star’ category which highlights the achievements of a member of staff who has made a significant impact within their organisation.

Sport Aberdeen is committed to creating opportunities for everyone to take part in sport and physical activity and has one simple goal; to get more people active, breaking down barriers such as cost, age, ability and gender and prides itself on making a real difference to the local community.

Throughout the last year, despite two significant periods of closure during lockdown, Sport Aberdeen has continued to create opportunities for the people of Aberdeen to engage in sport and physical activity, from its free Get active @ Home hub, which provided online classes and resources for all ages and abilities, to specific programmes for care experienced young people, older adults and people living with respiratory conditions.

Sport Aberdeen’s ‘Rising Star’ Craig Roberts, joined the charity in in September 2015 in the role of HR Administrator during which time he was completing his master’s degree in Human Resources Management at Robert Gordon University. Now an HR Business Partner, and part of the charity’s extended leadership team, Craig has raised the bar in demonstrating company pride, loyalty, commitment and work ethic.

We are thrilled to be shortlisted in two categories along with so many deserving organisations and we are very much looking forward to what is always a fantastic night.

Alistair Robertson

Alistair Robertson, Sport Aberdeen Managing Director commented on the announcement: “After an extremely challenging time for charities and businesses everywhere, the Northern Star Business Awards are more important than ever in celebrating the north-east’s resilience and achievements.

“Despite these challenges, we have continued to create opportunities for everyone in Aberdeen to remain active and I am extremely proud of the whole team who have worked hard to carry on supporting the local community throughout the pandemic. Now, as we look towards further easing of restrictions, we are more determined than ever to make a difference in the north-east through sport and physical activity.”

The winners will be announced at a glittering ceremony on Friday, February 11 2022 at P&J Live, Aberdeen.

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