Registration now open for free swimming and gym memberships for residents receiving Universal Credit and free school meals

Published: Wednesday, July 5, 2023

  • Free memberships are available from Monday 24 July and can be registered in advance. 
  • Residents eligible include those receiving Universal Credit and children on free school meals. 
  • Enhances the council’s package of support during the cost of living crisis. 

Share this

The pool at Balham Leisure Centre

Thousands of families can sign up now for leisure centre memberships so they can access free gym and swim sessions from later this month.

Wandsworth Council has brought in the scheme, run with leisure centre contractor Places Leisure, to stop residents being priced out of using leisure facilities to keep fit and healthy. Council leader Simon Hogg said: “This is all part of our ongoing work to make the borough fairer and more compassionate and support people through the cost of living crisis. “Regular exercise is great for people’s mental and physical health and we want to make sure council facilities are available to all.” Anyone receiving Universal Credit will be able to enjoy free off-peak adult gym and swim sessions (off peak is before 5.30pm on weekdays and all day at weekends). 

Residents can create a free Places membership online then take proof of eligibility (either a text message or a letter confirming their eligibility) to their chosen leisure centre, where the team will register the membership and issue a membership card.  

Once a member, they can book sessions from Monday 24 July when the scheme opens. 

Young people aged 16 and under who receive free school meals will be able to swim for free. A parent or guardian looking after one or two children will also be able to join them for free so that families can enjoy a swim together. 

Children between 11 and 16 years old will also be able to use the free junior gym, and they can also make other free sports bookings.  

Asylum seekers and foster carers also qualify, and care leavers up to the age of 25 can register for half price membership. Free gym and swim is part of a package of measures to help families struggling with the Cost of Living crisis, including free school uniformsschool breakfastscommunity spaces and London’s biggest Cost of Living support package. 

If you’re eligible, you should have received a text message on June 30 so you can register in advance of the launch date of July 24, when bookings can be made. Swimming sessions should be booked in advance and are subject to availability. 

Click here to register if you are eligible for a free or discounted membership.