AURA WALES has improved and enhanced the lives of hundreds of thousands of people across Flintshire and beyond over the last five years.
As the employee-owned community benefit society unveiled its vision for the future, staff and board members met to celebrate its achievements in delivering services that have benefited the health and wellbeing of visitors across the region.
Employing more than 250 staff and pumping millions of pounds into the local economy, Aura revealed social impact data relating to its mission of improving lives through health and exercise.
And its strong financial performance means it can continue to reinvest any surplus generated into its leisure and library facilities and services to improve the customer experience and sustain and enhance its offer for the future.
The organisation has made a huge impact county-wide, helping to tackle loneliness and isolation and via its Sports Development Team, working with youths in Holywell and Mostyn, generated £13.16 of social value for every £1 spent.
Addressing the Aura Wales AGM at Deeside Leisure Centre, where more than 150 employees were in attendance, chair Sara Mogel OBE said their post-pandemic results were an “amazing outcome”.
“As a Community Benefit Society, we are always looking for areas where we can add value and enhance the lives of the people of Flintshire; despite other pressures, last year was no exception,” said Mrs Mogel, who also recorded her gratitude to Flintshire County Council for its collaborative approach and support provided during the challenges of recent years.
“We are working in partnership with all town and community councils to ensure safe, high-quality play areas for Flintshire children – and in doing so have enabled more than £1.5million to be invested in over 120 improvement schemes over the past five years.
“We have helped to redevelop Mold Museum, managed a national project promoting good mental health and well-being through our libraries, continued the highly regarded and successful Fit, Fed and Read schemes – attended by more than 5,000 families and young people this summer – and have reduced energy consumption in our leisure facilities.”
She added: “Our leisure services have seen an uptake in membership and last year alone more than 2,500 children learned to swim with Aura every week, which is amazing.
“Numbers are not just returning to the pre pandemic levels but exceeding them, and as an important employer in Flintshire – 90% of our staff live in the county – we are proud to have maintained services while they are being cut in other counties.
“It is because of how valued we are by our community that I, and the Board, are working hard with our partners to secure a long-term contract so we can access even more external funding, work in partnership with even more organisations and invest even more in our people, our services and our facilities.”
Those words were echoed by Aura’s Business Improvement and Performance Manager Paul Jones, who thanked stakeholders and the public for their support.
“We have had fantastic backing over the years and for that we are very grateful, but moving forward from a strategic perspective having a longer-term contract in place would allow us to make even more sustainable, lasting investments to benefit our service users in Flintshire,” he said.
“And it’s not just this county, the ice arena and other facilities are used by people from all over North Wales, the North West and even further afield, bringing tourism to the area and having a major effect on the local economy.
“The traditional image of leisure centres and libraries has completely changed, they are now health and wellbeing hubs, focal points for social and cultural support and development, and we have very much been at the forefront of that, something our strategic vision recognises and seeks to reinforce.”
Aura’s CEO Mike Welch added: “The work of our incredible team has been reflected in these results post-pandemic.
“We will be in discussions over the coming months about the future – which is looking bright – and again would like to thank everyone who has used Aura since its inception. We will continue to deliver a first-class service for the people of Flintshire for many years to come.”