Leisure trusts’ ability to recover from challenging, changing circumstances and difficulties is increasingly being tested in the current public services landscape, new research from Eastside Primetimers for Community Leisure UK has found.

Amidst the issues and mounting pressures facing community leisure trusts, building resilience is paramount. The question, however, is what does resilience look like?

Social sector consultants Eastside Primetimers researched a sample of 30 small and mid-sized leisure trusts, ranging between £1m and £15m of income, and conducted desk research using publicly-available information. Developing from here, eight in-depth interviews were conducted with trust Chief Executives to delve further into the challenges they are facing and what trusts are doing to rise to them.

Based on a picture of the leisure trust sector and Social Investment Business’ definition of resilience as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties and changing circumstances”, five key indicators were identified which are fundamental for leisure trusts to cope with difficulties and changing circumstances.

The resilience indicators are:

  1. diversification of income and services
  2. diversification of geography
  3. profitability
  4. strength of reserves
  5. capacity to evidence impact

The aim of this research is to provide a picture of the current state of leisure trusts, including examples of good practice that other trusts may be able to draw upon to improve their resilience. The research creates a sense of what kind of support is most required in the leisure trust sector to enhance resilience, and how it needs to be tailored at different scales.

Both Eastside Primetimers and Community Leisure UK are keen to share the research report with Community Leisure UK members and provide practical support to community leisure trusts to help them build up resilience. Eastside Primetimers can offer a 1-2-1 follow-up session with consultant Neil Shearer and a personalised diagnostic report.

For further information or support, please contact Neil at neil@ep-uk.org or Cate Atwater, Chief Executive at Community Leisure UK, at cateatwater@communityleisureuk.org.

Eastside Primetimers

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