Council agrees to women-only swimming sessions after union wades into deep end

Tim Lezard

swimming poolCampaigning mums have won their three-year fight to have a women-only swimming session at Bristol’s Horfield leisure centre.

The Horfield swimming campaign – culminating in a Mother’s day protest at the pool – chalked up victory when Bristol City Council and the centre’s management agreed to a weekly women-only swimming session which will be subsidised.

More than 30 Somali women joined Unite’s new community membership, after their pleas for a woman’s-only session, for cultural and personal reasons, had been ignored for three years.

The climbdown – after Unite had pulled together the campaigning efforts – now brings the Horfield pool into line with all the other public pools in Bristol.

Unite community coordinator for the South West Brett Sparkes said: “It soon became clear to the pool’s management  that the women were organised, had Unite’s support and were not going to go away quietly.

“So shortly after the Mother’s day protest, the women were invited to a meeting with the city council. Since then, the pool has agreed to introduce a women’s only session.

“This is a victory for grassroots community action and shows what can be done when local people come together in a co-ordinated fashion to achieve a beneficial result for their community.”

The protesters were also supported by Bristol Community Housing Foundation and Bristol NHS which recognised swimming as an important exercise with well-researched health benefits.

The timing of the sessions is still being negotiated.


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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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