The Nelson Mandela Health and Wellbeing Centre

By on 31/01/2014 in News

Plans to rename Handsworth Leisure Centre and hold an event to celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela have been put back to 18 July - his birthday and Nelson Mandela International Day (Mandela Day).

It was announced last month that a celebration would be held at the leisure centre on 11 February to mark the date the former South African president was freed from prison after 27 years in 1990.

Lozells & East Handsworth Councillor, Hendrina Quinnen, who has lived in South Africa, said: “Moving the date back to the summer, will give us a little more time to hopefully secure a member of the Mandela family or another South African representative to attend, and also complete a planned refurbishment of the leisure centre.”
Plans for a £580,000 refurbishment and reconfiguration of Handsworth Leisure Centre and Play Centre were already in the pipeline and approved last December. The project will be funded, in part, from the sale of the Old Bank, in Villa Road. The Holly Road centre will become a Health and Wellbeing Centre as part of the city council's Sport and Physical Activity Service Review.  The work, which aims to increase community provision within the area, will include:

• Improving the play centre, which is next to the leisure centre, to enable it to be used for a greater range of community activities,
• Improving security with the creation of a link corridor between the leisure centre and the community/play centre,
• Reconfiguring the first floor of the leisure centre to make better use of the space, in an effort to increase participation in exercise.

“Considering the aim of Mandela Day is to empower communities, we think it will be a fitting tribute - and worth putting the date back – to mark the completion of the leisure centre works, also aimed at increasing community activity, on this international day to commemorate one of the 20th Century's greatest leaders,” added Cllr Quinnen.

Nelson Mandela visited Handsworth Leisure Centre as part of a tour of Birmingham in 1993, to thank the people of the city for their support in the struggle against Apartheid.

Soho Councillor, Sybil Spence, said: “I am working together with the Deputy Leader, Councillor Ian Ward, Lozells & East Handsworth Councillors Mahmood Hussain, Waseem Zaffar and Hendrina Quinnen, council officers and community representatives to bring this event about.

“We are currently exploring our contacts in South Africa in the hope that an appropriate representative will be able join us for the celebration, and by postponing the event, it gives us more time to think about involving local children, artists and others in the community, as well as extending activities into Handsworth Park on a summer day, rather than a cold February day.”


For further information please contact the press office on 0121 303 3287   

Notes to editors

• The estimated capital cost of the scheme is £580,000 including development costs of £48,185 and will be funded from a capital receipt of £207,000 from the sale of the Old Bank and corporate capital of £373,000. There will be no additional staff costs for the gym as the existing staff will be able to supervise the larger area. Staff costs for additional classes will be covered by the income generated. There are no revenue financial implications as a direct result of the proposed development as future programmes will be designed to be fully funded through additional income or discounted. The Leisure Centre falls within the current Sport & Leisure transformation programme, with the options for future delivery, including retaining it as a “Health and Wellbeing Centre” subject to consultation, as part of the Budget Setting 2014/15+ process. 

The overarching objective of Mandela Day is to inspire individuals to take action to help change the world for the better, and in doing so build a global movement for good. Ultimately it seeks to empower communities everywhere. “Take Action; Inspire Change; Make Every Day a Mandela Day.” Individuals and organisations are free to participate in Mandela Day as they wish. We do however urge everyone to adhere to the ethical framework of “service to one's fellow human”.

• Nelson Mandela visited Handsworth Leisure Centre when he came to the city in 1993, to thank the people of Birmingham for their support. He also attended a music concert at the Symphony Hall; met with business people where he asked for help in rebuilding South Africa; spoke to a packed audience at the new International Convention Centre (ICC) for two hours without notes; and visited children and staff at the Nelson Mandela Primary School, in Sparkbrook.

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