Primary carers get leisure benefits with launch of new pilot membership scheme

January 10, 2022

Primary carers of an adult with a learning disability who use Southern Trust services are now able to avail of reduced rates at any of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s leisure facilities thanks to a new pilot membership scheme.

The scheme, which is being facilitated by ABC Council and the Southern Health & Social Care Trust, was launched on Monday 10 January by the Lord Mayor, Alderman Glenn Barr at the council’s flagship leisure facility, South Lake Leisure Centre in Craigavon.

The innovative scheme offers a 20% reduction in normal membership fees across all nine council leisure facilities for carers, providing access to the gym, swimming pools and classes within the centres.

Speaking at the launch of the pilot project, Lord Mayor Alderman Glenn Barr said:

“Being a primary carer for someone with a learning difficulty can be a rewarding but also a very demanding and stressful commitment.

Undertaking exercise and allowing yourself the time to unwind is essential for anyone in a carers position, to provide respite and allow the carer an opportunity to focus on their own health and wellbeing.

Working with the Southern Trust we recognise the challenging role of the carer and hope the reduced membership scheme will encourage carers to take the time to de-stress, relax and re-charge and reap the benefits our leisure facilities have to offer.”

Welcoming the new scheme, John McEntee, Assistant Director of Disability Services for the Southern Health and Social Care Trust said:

“The past few years of the pandemic have been hugely challenging and stressful for carers of people with a learning disability. We know how important it is for us all to take time to look after our wellbeing, but even more so for carers, who very often put the needs of their loved one before their own. We are delighted to team up with the Council and encourage all unpaid carers to avail of this generous offer, to benefit their own physical and mental wellbeing.

The pilot scheme, which will run until 31 March 2022, is open to any primary carer of an adult who uses Southern Trust Adult Learning Disability services and is resident within the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough.

To register for the scheme carers should contact the Learning Disability Carer Consultants to register.  Once approved, a membership card will be provided which can then be used to set up the reduced membership of only £23 per month which includes full access to the leisure facilities during the daily opening times (advance booking may be required to access classes).

Southern Trust Learning Disability Carers Consultants Bernie Marshall and Majella Gorman are keen to help carers register for a Carers Get Active Card. You can contact them Bernie Tel:

07557819172 Email:

Or Majella Tel: 07557858749 Email:

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