SCL has introduced a brand-new app to help people with disabilities and special needs have positive experiences when visiting the gym.

The WelcoMe app, funded by Sport England allows users to plan and book their sessions, build their own profiles and alert venues a minimum of two hours before their visit. This is so that staff members can ensure that they know exactly how to help the user by briefing team members, making preparations and getting any equipment ready.

The app is being rolled out at Irlam & Cadishead Leisure Centre, following a successful trial last year, Eccles Leisure Centre, Salford Watersports Centre, Swinton & Pendlebury Leisure Centre and Worsley Leisure Centre.

SCL is delighted to be the first UK sport and leisure operator to utilise ‘WelcoMe’.
The app has been developed to make a difference to the lives of disabled people by taking away everyday challenges, increasing people’s confidence in visiting sports and leisure facilities and reducing the anxiety often brought on by visiting these venues.

The app has been developed by Neatebox and is being piloted by Sport England, with funding provided to a number of UK leisure operators with Salford being the first to go live with the service.

Since July of last year, the WelcoMe system has been trialled successfully at one leisure centre and incorporated into front end IT systems to ensure a smooth booking process across all digital platforms. In addition to this, all team members have received extensive training and development.

There are clear benefits for sports and leisure centre staff for utilising WelcoMe as they receive real-time training on a wide range of impairments and are provided with clear guidance on how to interact with and assist customers directly related to their specific needs. SCL is at the forefront of inclusivity in the Greater Manchester region and already works in partnership with many local and regional partners to assist local disabled gym users of all ages and provides ongoing staff training.

Head of Sport at Salford Community Leisure, Garry Bateman, said:

“It’s taken a few months to get the system up and running across an additional four sites and integrated with our own booking systems, but we are now ready to go and are fully committed to offering the huge benefits this will bring to our communities. We want to see more disabled users in our gyms now that restrictions have been lifted and that things are getting back-to-normal. It’s crucial for everyone to get regular exercise as this is vital to people’s health and wellbeing and we feel strongly that we want to ensure any barriers to this are addressed in our community.

We are proud to still be at the forefront of the Sport England pilot for the introduction of this innovative app into the leisure sector. The app is the perfect addition to our facilities and seeks to bridge the gap in the customer journey of someone with a disability in that both real and perceived barriers are addressed prior to the actual visit taking place. It builds the confidence of both the customer and our staff in ensuring that the visit is the very best experience it can be which is incredibly important now more than ever to boost the opportunities to improve the health and wellbeing of disabled people in our area.”

Kai Hilton aged 21 from Salford, says:

“I am the carer for my teenage brother Coby who has McCune Albright Syndrome, with complex medical needs. He’s done swimming lessons and is now a member of Irlam & Cadishead Leisure Centre. The staff are very welcoming towards him on arrival and accommodate him very well.

Our current experience has been good at the local leisure centres and the WelcoMe app will benefit Coby further as if there is a new staff member on duty who does not know Coby or his condition, it would help them to know he is a vulnerable person, and it will inform them how they can help in the best possible way. It would also benefit him if he was to go in any other of the SCL leisure centres for any reason. The staff wouldn’t have seen him before but would have the relevant information to accommodate him well and give him a warm welcome.”

Any user of SCL’s gyms with a disability, condition or additional healthcare related needs can download the app free.

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