OPINION: Free sporting activities for children return to Ipswich this summer

Crown Pools, Ipswich.

Crown Pools will be among the facilities where youngsters can enjoy free sessions - Credit: Archant

It’s not long now until schools break up for the long summer holidays.

While most of us have very fond memories from our childhoods of those six summer weeks, now we’re a bit older we recognise that it can be quite a stressful time for parents. Six weeks is a long time to keep the children entertained, safe and out of trouble while juggling work commitments.

On top of this it can be very expensive. Always a worry for families on tight budgets, the cost of living crisis will make this a much bigger concern for even more families this year.

So, I’m very pleased that we have just announced that we are running Ipswich Borough Council’s free Summer Holiday iCard for young people once again this year.

Between Monday July 25 and Wednesday August 31, children aged 5 to 16 years old who live in Ipswich or attend a school in Ipswich will get free access to a huge variety of activities on our summer holiday activity programme.

The iCard allows free use of the council’s gyms and badminton and squash courts during the daytime. The hugely popular free swimming at Crown Pools will also be returning during the daytime on weekdays.

On top of this, over 300 activities will be taking place over the six weeks at various locations. This includes our sports centres and swimming pools but also parks and open spaces across the town to reduce the need to pay for transport.

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As well as traditional favourites like football, tennis, basketball, dodgeball and roller skating there will be more unusual activities such as Xtreme Active, water polo, junior jet skis and sea scooters.

There will also be bat, glow worm and wildlife walks, along with guided walks on the Gruesome History of Ipswich.

We are working with a range of partners including Ipswich School of Dance, Ipswich Town Community Trust, Ipswich Boxing Club and many others to extend the range of activities even more.
On top of this we will be running the popular Summer Camps which provide a full day’s worth of activities for young people. We will also be running weekly Disability Sports Camps with additional caring capacity to ensure they are accessible to the widest range of young people in Ipswich.

All activities are on a first-come, first-served basis and, apart from swimming which will use a timed band system, must be booked prior to arrival. Activities can be booked up to seven days in advance.
Full details are available at: www.ipswichfit.co.uk/summerholidayicard

We first launched the Free Summer Holiday iCard in 2018 to get young people in Ipswich activities over the summer holidays and to provide safe and positive spaces and activities.

We believe this is now the largest free summer sports and activity programme of its kind in England – we’re certainly not aware of anything comparable in East Anglia – and is something Ipswich can, and should, be very proud of.

- David Ellesmere is the Labour leader of Ipswich Borough Council.