Crown Estate Funding for Sports Facilities – Update

Since 1st September 2022, constituted associations, clubs and organisations affiliated to the Lewis and Harris Sports Council and the Uist and Barra Sports Council have enjoyed free access to sport and leisure facilities across the Western Isles thanks to funding from the Crown Estate.

£50,000 worth of funding was secured in order to support local groups with the cost of facility hire as they returned to a more normal service following lockdown restrictions, encouraging more people to get active. This funding allowed 48 constituted clubs across the Western Isles make use of sport and leisure facilities at no cost to themselves, allowing them to utilise their own funds for new equipment, additional training sessions and travel to competitions.

The demand for facility hire across the last 8 months has been extremely high and as such the funding has been allocated at a faster rate than the full year that was originally anticipated. While this is a testament to the success of the funding it does mean that from Monday 8th May 2023 all facility hire will return to being fully chargeable. Given the hugely positive impact that this funding has had on local groups, the Sport and Health service will explore the possibility of securing additional funding in order to continue supporting our communities.

Sports Facilities Service Manager Tony Wade said,

“The scheme has proven to be a great boost to sport and physical activity right across the islands, which can be demonstrated by the hugely positive feedback we have had. Sport and Health will continue to try and secure funding for our clubs and groups who play such an important role in keeping our islands active”

Feedback on the scheme from local groups:

 “The CnES Free Facility Access Scheme has allowed the club to restart our Harris branch at the Sports Centre which had to close during the pandemic.” – Island Archers
 “The scheme has had so many positive impacts on clubs - it has given the coaches/volunteers a great lift as they are able to do more with both the kids and the adults” – Stornoway Athletic FC
 “The club has been able to purchase additional mats to supplement our 40-year-old mats. By freeing up funds for both training and equipment the club has also been able to keep the weekly fees at an affordable level given other cost constraints on family budgets.” – Isle of Lewis Gymnastics
“Our teams play in regional and national competitions throughout the winter months and the savings made on pitch hire have helped support our substantial costs of travelling to the mainland to fulfil fixtures” – Stornoway Rugby Club
“The savings from the Scheme together with LHSC Grant support has enabled us to invest in new carpets for the Clubhouse and the Sports Centre – improving the quality and attendances for games and competitions” – Stornoway Bowling Club
“The savings from the funding scheme has allowed for coach education and training volunteers which helps provide a safe environment for the swimmers with sessions that are coached by SGB accredited volunteers.” – Swim Western Isles