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Leisure sector gets stuck in with relief efforts to help tackle coronavirus

By Tom Walker    20 Mar 2020
The Hornets at Home initiative will help elderly and disabled fans who are forced to stay at home during the outbreak / Watford FC

A number of UK leisure companies and operators have launched initiatives to help ease the pressures on local communities and the National Health Service (NHS), created by the coronavirus pandemic.

Boutique fitness chain 1Rebel has made its studios available to the NHS, offering to "hand over the keys" to all of its London clubs for use by the health service as it best sees fit.

“London is currently the area of the UK most heavily affected by the coronavirus and we’re hearing stark warnings about impending shortages of hospital beds," said 1Rebel co-founder, James Balfour. "If we can be part of the solution, we absolutely want to be."

Manchester United legend Gary Neville has opened his two hotels in Manchester to NHS staff to help with the crisis. The two hotels have now been closed to the public, freeing 176 beds for NHS and other medical staff.

Neville said none of his staff will be made redundant or asked to take unpaid leave.

A number of football clubs have also joined the relief effort.

League Two club Stevenage and Scottish club Stenhousemuir have introduced a number of measures, from players phoning fans to volunteers doing shopping for those most vulnerable.

The clubs have created phone and online carelines, which will provide those whose "might otherwise slip through the usual safety nets" when forced to live the next weeks or months behind closed doors.

Elsewhere, Crawley Town Football Club Community Foundation (CTCF) has created wellness information packs with exercise sheets, resistance bands and mental wellbeing tips.

CTCF will deliver the packs to vulnerable and elderly people in the community.

English Premier League club Watford has launched a campaign to help elderly and disabled fans who are forced to stay at home during the outbreak. The "Hornets at Home" initiative will connect fans who are prepared to help with those who need it most.

"We will be writing to all of its elderly supporters and those with a disability, drawing information from its records held, offering the help of fellow Hornets’ fans," the club said in a statement.

"Assistance will also be made available to those who become house-bound through illness."

Fellow Premier League club Burnley has teamed up with Burnley Council and community housing company Calico and are urging people across the town to unite to support the town’s foodbank during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

Other clubs to have launched initiatives to help their communities include Aberdeen FC, Blackburn Rovers and Eastleigh FC.

In the hospitality industry, pubs and independent restaurants up and down the country have set up takeaway and delivery food services for their local communities.

Many are offering discounted meals to the vulnerable, the elderly and those stuck at home through self-isolation.

Brewer and pub operator BrewDog has switched its production lines at its distillery in Aberdeenshire from alcohol to making hand sanitiser, amid shortages driven by consumer stockpiling.

The firm said will be giving away the “punk sanitiser” for free to those that need it.

“We are determined to do everything we can to try and help as many people as possible stay safe,” said BrewDog founder James Watt.

In the online space, Les Mills International (LMI) has unveiled a raft of free digital workout solutions to support health clubs and schools during the coronavirus pandemic.

As thousands of gyms and schools across the world are being forced to close, the group fitness giant is taking unprecedented steps to help adults and children worldwide stay active in their homes.

Les Mills is providing clubs, instructors and schools with access to its workouts through the Les Mills On Demand (LMOD) digital fitness platform, so they can support gym members and families with workout options to stay healthy and active.

• Have you got a story to tell about how leisure sector companies and operators are helping with measures to tackle the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic? Let us know: newsdesk @ leisuremedia.com

National Health Service  NHS  fitness  1Rebel  London  Manchester United  Gary Neville  Coronavirus 
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