Barrier 2 Local leisure facilities and parks

Online workshop participants shared 409 contributions to explore issues around parks and leisure facilities. Analysis of these contributions revealed four core themes of:

Core Theme Total Contributions % of Total Contributions
Accessibility & Availability 125 31%
Safety and appearance 117 29%
Perception of expense 88 22%
Perception of my needs not being met 79 19%


Core Theme 1: Perception of accessibility and availability

Aggregate narrative

I find it difficult to use leisure facilities because there not enough facilities and those available don’t have flexible opening hours that suit my schedule.  I feel it would be helpful if we:

  • increase the number of leisure facilities and parks,
  • increase the variety of activities available in our leisure facilities and parks,
  • introduce flexible opening times of leisure facilities and parks,
  • have parks with areas with sheltered cover so they can be used when it’s raining, and
  • provide public transport that links into leisure facilities and parks.

Example evidence and solutions

  • Title: Need to be innovative with parks
    Increased facilities would help people use parks and also having more structured programmes in them.” (8 likes, 0 dislikes, 1 comment).
  • Title: Not 9 till 5
    Opening times at pools and gyms not worker friendly not open late or early enough.” (8 likes, 0 dislikes, 1 comment).
  • Title: Rain sheltered outdoor play areas for kids
    Why don’t councils provide rain sheltered parks for kids to play under.” (5 likes, 0 dislikes, 1 comment).
  • Title: Public transport
    “Public transport needs to link into leisure facilities.” (5 likes, 0 dislikes, 5 comments).

Core Theme 2: Perception of safety and appearance

Aggregate narrative

Our public parks and cycling routes are not safe, especially in some areas of Greater Manchester. I also like other outdoors activities, but I feel like some of the public leisure facilities and parks aren’t safe enough for me and my children. On top of this, some parks and public spaces are not maintained properly so they look run down and not appealing.  I feel it would be helpful if we:

  • ensure appropriate maintenance of our leisure facilities and parks,
  • tackle antisocial behaviour in leisure facilities and parks, and
  • build more safe cycling lanes.

Example evidence and solutions

  • Title: Cycling concerns
    Cycling still feels too dangerous. There are some leisure routes which are very easy but to get to them you have to ride through other busy areas to get to them.” (20 likes, 0 dislikes, 5 comments).
  • Title: Improve facilities in local parks
    Due to local government cuts most public parks are wholly neglected. I find walking in my once beautiful local park very depressing.” (12 likes, 0 dislikes, 4 comments).
  • Title: Anti-social behaviour in public places prevents the public engaging in outdoor activities
    stop antisocial behaviour and people will engage in outdoor activities more regularly.” (18 likes, 0 dislikes, 1 comment).

Core Theme 3: Perception of expense

Aggregate narrative

I can’t afford a gym membership or even council leisure facilities. I feel it would be helpful if we:

  • reduce gym prices,
  • offer flexible gym packages that are adapted to people’s priorities,
  • extend Rochdale’s activ8me programme across Greater Manchester, and
  • promote the use of public transport.

Example evidence and solutions

  • Title: Cost of using facilities
    The main thing that stops me from using local leisure facilities is the cost. I can’t afford gym memberships or even council leisure facilities.” (20 likes, 0 dislikes, 5 comments).
  • Title: Provide heavily subsidised, excellent public transport and raise the relative cost of driving.
    My wife and I can drive into Manchester and park for the day for less than it costs for the two of us to take public transport. It also takes less time than using even the “express” buses and is more flexible.  We therefore have no financial or time incentive to leave the car at home and use public transport, which would get us walking far more.” (11 likes, 2 dislikes, 4 comments).
  • Title: Gym price reductions
    I would like to see a reduction in gym prices I like the gym and don’t feel confident to exercise outside but the costing is often a barrier.” (7 likes, 0 dislikes, 1 comment).

Core Theme 4: Perception of needs not being met

Aggregate narrative

I don’t feel like the facilities can accommodate my needs. I’d like to use leisure facilities and parks more often, but most of them aren’t:

  • family friendly (there are no childcare or activities where children are allowed, this means I can’t take my children with me and need someone to look after them), or
  • respectful of my needs that stem from my confidence / religion / physical ability / mental health (our leisure and facilities are not particularly welcoming for people who have anxiety, are autistic or struggle to be active).

I feel it would be helpful if we:

  • introduce childcare in every leisure facility,
  • offer classes and activities where children are allowed,
  • make sure people with mental health issues feel welcome, and
  • take into account of different cultures and religions when designing leisure facilities.

Example evidence and solutions

  • Title: Gyms and leisure facilities are not family friendly.
    Many gyms and organised activities do not take into account the fact that many parents would need childcare in order to participate.” (10 likes, 0 dislikes, 1 comment).
  • Title: Depression and Anxiety – mental health pressures making it hard to motivate yourself.
    People suffering with depression and/or anxiety (whether diagnosed or not), can face additional struggles to being active.” (7 likes, 0 dislikes, 0 comments).
  • Title: The behavioural, cultural and religious barriers
    Many people of different background, religion, culture and behaviour too do not feel at ease going to the gym, swimming or partaking in some physical activities.” (4 likes, 0 dislikes, 1 comment).