Child poverty campaigner hits out at the astronomical price for family swim sessions in capital

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A child poverty campaigner has hit out at the ‘insulting’ high prices he faces for taking his six year old son for a swim at Gracemount leisure centre.

Chris Kilkenny, 26, from Wester Hailes, had contacted the Evening News after he was charged £12 for his son to accompany him for a swim at an Edinburgh Leisure pool.As a single parent, he said that thy are being priced out of exercising together and that his son is also being denied the right of learning the vital skill of swimming because his father does not earn enough.Mr Kilkenny said: “As a young working class person in Edinburgh, it is tough for everybody but for prices to be what they are to use publicly owned assets is insulting.

"You try to stay healthy and follow the rules but we are being penalised for being working class.

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"It is now more expensive to stay healthy than ever and makes it impossible for a single father to cope as I can’t afford £48 a month.“If you look at the amount of third sector agencies having to provide support - where are these families thinking they have got £12 to take their kids swimming if they have to get food parcels just to survive? This cost is deterring working class families from keeping active and spending time together safely.

Chris and son Cameron, 6.Chris and son Cameron, 6.
Chris and son Cameron, 6.

“When we have something like Edinburgh Leisure, one of our greatest assets, the government and council should support it properly. It will save money in the long run as you will be able to better tackle long standing issues that come from lack of exercise.

“For a lot of folk this pandemic has meant they have been trapped in confined homes with their mental health suffering and exercise is the best cure for this.”Mr Kilkenny has an Edinburgh Leisure membership that is offered to those who have come from a care background but has said that he was shocked to find out that his membership is not offered the same £2.40 discount for family sessions as those on traditional memberships.

An Edinburgh Leisure spokesperson said: “Due to COVID-19 we continue to follow Government guidance on how we can reopen facilities and restart venues safely.“We are currently only able to offer a limited range of products – we would love to offer more but given current restrictions, this is not possible.

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"Currently we are only able to offer one type of family swim during dedicated family swim sessions. This allows up to five people to swim and there are member and concessionary discounts available at £9.60.“The price is set for a dedicated area ‘pod’ in the pool for up to five people.

"This is the safest way currently to manage the numbers and ensure people are physically distanced during the session.”

They added that Edinburgh Leisure is ‘constantly updating’ the services they offer as government guidance changes and that they hope to re-introduce more options soon.Mr Kilkenny added: “But what happens if your family is just a unit of two? This is clearly a classist policy and approach with a one size fits all solution.”

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