LEISURE centres in Herefordshire are getting a cash injection from the council so people can recover from impact of the coronavirus pandemic on their health.

Herefordshire Council agreed a £60,500 injection for Halo Leisure, which runs gyms, swimming pools and other activities in the county, which it wants to see spent on "intensive" swimming lessons for children during school holidays, free family swimming sessions and free weekly lessons for adult non-swimmers.

This should help people become more healthy, Herefordshire Council hopes.

Making the decision, interim director for adults and communities Paul Smith said the global Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown measures had an unprecedented impact on not only the economy, but also on people’s wellbeing and mental and physical health.

"Nationally the magnitude of the recession caused by the pandemic is unprecedented, GDP declined by 9.8 per cent in 2020 the steepest drop since records began in 1948," he said.

Mr Smith said the a county community wellbeing survey 2021 found 28 per cent of people reported high levels of anxiety, 32 per cent experienced drop in household income, 33 per cent doing less exercise, and 30 per cent sleeping less well.

The council said it wanted to change its focus to recovery, and to do so the cabinet approved a £6 million coronavirus recovery plan which included the economy, community wellbeing and organisation.

"The covid recovery plan budget allocation must be committed within the 2021/22 financial year and the summer holidays is an important period to encourage participation in activities for all ages with the aim of the projects is to encourage ‘staycation’ families to undertake more physical activity," Mr Smith said.

Halo's pools are in Hereford, Leominster, Ross-on-Wye and Ledbury.