Ipswich to get 20,000 free iCards for youngsters this summer
PUBLISHED: 18:00 18 June 2019 | UPDATED: 18:25 18 June 2019
More than 20,000 free cards are to be given to Ipswich youngsters this summer, allowing access to sports facilities over the school holidays.
Last year Ipswich Borough Council issued the free iCards to thousands of school aged children in a bid to keep them healthy, occupied and away from gang activity during the six week summer holidays.
The scheme, which cost £100,000 last year, resulted in nearly 13,000 sign-ups, 18,501 visits to Crown Pools and nearly 7,000 gym visits.
It gives youngsters aged 5-16 access to more than 400 sessions, including swimming, archery, football, basketball, keep-fit events and roller-skating at council run gyms, swimming pools and leisure centres.
Councillor Bryony Rudkin, Labour portfolio-holder for sport at the council, said: "We are unveiling our summer holiday sport and leisure programme today, with a wide range of activities to suit all tastes.
"We are putting on hundreds of events at our sports facilities and free activities in the community and are repeating our free summer holiday iCard offer to local children.
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"This is good news for parents and families, too, as they can be confident their youngsters are occupied safely throughout the long school break."
The council confirmed in December it was looking at ways it could roll out the scheme for 2019, following the success of it last year.
The cards are able to be used from July 25, with online booking for sessions opening from July 18.
Those who received a free card last year and are still eligible will be contacted to inform them their cards are still able to be used, while those eligible for the first time can sign up on the website.
Ian Fisher, leader of the opposition Conservative group at the council, said his group was in favour of the promotion last year, but wanted some of the issues such as anti-social behaviour from a huge influx from visitors to Crown Pools to be addressed.
It comes as part of the council's summer activity programme which includes a host of headline events such as Ipswich Music Day and Ipswich Maritime Festival.
There will also be dozens of family friendly events happening across the town's parks, Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich Museum and other locations.