Laura Bagnall - Leisure Centre Manager at South Staffordshire District Council
Interested in fitness? Want to help the community get more active and healthy? Well organised and good with people? Read on about my role.
I’m Laura and I’m a Leisure Centre Manager, managing one of the four centres in our council, and it’s my job to oversee the management and operations of the centre. Our facilities include a swimming pool, gym, football pitch, spin room, dance studio, netball and tennis courts, and we share the running costs and timetable of activities with the academy on the same site.
I’m currently working out of a portakabin as the centre is undergoing a complete refurbishment - all very exciting as it means we will get to work in attractive, up-to-date facilities. I love my role of running the building, as well as overseeing all the activities we offer.
Gone are the days when leisure centres were solely about members coming in to use ‘gym and swim’. Now we are actively promoting our offer to the community. There’s a successful GPs referral system in place where doctors and physiotherapists can ‘prescribe’ exercise and offer a free 12-week programme here; for example, post a hip or knee replacement or if someone needs to lose weight. We develop a programme personal to them.
We offer deals to make it more accessible to everyone. We don’t want price to prevent someone using our facilities, so we run regular promotions and offer ‘taster classes’; those who visit us more often than not want to come back for more. There are so many physical, as well as mental, health benefits of exercise.
Events we’ve run include ballroom dancing, a bird show, and a Christmas craft event – we’ve run these and other events to bring people in that perhaps haven’t visited us before and to support the local community.
We’ve all sorts of roles here with our ‘doors of opportunity’ for those fresh out of school. Many start at the ‘shallow end’ as lifeguards after completing a week’s intensive training. Some then train to become swimming teachers, football coaches or gym instructors, or to the reception role where I started.
I’ve worked my way up through a number of roles during my career and been supported throughout. The Chief Executive came to see me and told me about the ASPIRE programme for managers across the region. It was brilliant to learn with others in very different roles.
After taking part in a mental health training session for managers, I wanted to take the time to have a more in-depth conversation with my team to check in with them on a personal level – as the busy day-to-day can sometimes limit the chances we have to really talk. Having that conversation really matters, doesn’t it?
Laura is featured in our Local Government Career Guide, click here to find out more about working in local government and the wide variety of career options available.
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