Friends of the Hut

Friends of the Hut

A grant of £930 from City Health Care Partnership Foundation for Withernsea Friends of the Hut to fund free parent and toddler swimming lessons is still helping even after the money has been spent.

The original grant funded 10 weeks of free classes for parents and babies and 40 children altogether took part. All the classes were full and swimming instructor Julie Cunningham kept a reserve list in case anyone dropped out. Once the free classes had finished she invited those on the reserve list if they’d like to join a course with a 20% discount.

“Although we can’t afford to run free classes all the time, they were a fantastic route in for lots of parents and everyone who’s coming now heard about it through the free groups. We’ve got three groups going and it’s made families realise that swimming is fun for parents and babies.

“It’s not just about swimming, it’s also about bonding with your child. Our baby classes start at four months old and the tots ones start at 18 months; you can see the children become more confident, even the ones who are very nervous to start with. We’ve got babies of 10 months old swimming independently with armbands. It’s a lifelong skill and for people who live near the sea it’s particularly important that their children can swim. Once they have that confidence in the water, they never forget it.”

Tracey brought her daughter Sapphire to the tots group after accessing the free classes. “It’s really opened new doors for me,” she says. “The funding made all the difference because I’m a single parent. It’s a great opportunity to spend time with my kids and I’ve made friends in the group as well.”

Other parents in the group also heard about the free classes and got themselves on the reserve list. Calvin’s mum, Laura, says he loves it. “Calvin was already going to private lessons but these are half the price and we’re really enjoying it. He was particularly excited because Daddy came too today.”

Lucy says she can see a big change in her son Billy. “He’s suddenly become much more confident and today he said, ‘I’m going to swim to Julie and then back to Mummy’. Because everyone else is doing it they follow each other and they really respond to Julie’s praise and encouragement.”

“The benefits of learning to swim don’t stop when the lessons stop,” says Julie. “Swimming is a pleasurable activity for everyone, whatever their age, and learning like this means that children are set up to enjoy swimming throughout their lives.”