Where did we come from?
In 1993, Greenwich Council needed to find a new way to run its leisure centres because of public spending cuts and together, we came up with a new model. The first of its kind in UK leisure. GLL was born.
Seven centres were transferred to us, and success quickly followed. We created jobs and added new services to existing leisure centres. Since then, we’ve built lots of new facilities in the UK and our membership has gone from about 7,000 to more than 850,000 with 54 million visitors a year.
In 1996, we began expanding outside Greenwich and now run all kinds of community services and spaces across the UK - from Belfast to Bromley, Carlisle to Cardiff.
What do we do?
We exist to make community services and spaces better for everyone. That means providing affordable access to quality community leisure and fitness facilities. We manage more than 270 public sport and leisure centres, 113 libraries in partnership with 50 local councils, public agencies and sporting organisations.
Where are we heading?
GLL is now over 25 years old; and we’re as excited about the future today, as we were back in 1993. Our 5 Year Corporate Plan focuses on future-proofing our business, giving us the strongest and most sustainable prospects in uncertain economic times. We’re focussing more on customer service and getting this right.
Our USP won't change - we will still run our business in our charitable, social way.
GLL are honoured and proud to take forward the national sporting legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games through our stewardship of the QEOP’s London Aquatics Centre and Copper Box Arena and our GLL Sport Foundation.
In addition to opening the Olympic venues to the general public, since 2008 we have made £11m available to over 10,000 individual athletes to support their journeys in elite sport. In 2019 we will make over 3,000 athlete awards – many for those under 21 with no other means of support.
If you’d like to speak to us about any new business opportunities, please get in touch.
Where did Better come from?
We created Better to be GLL’s customer-facing brand. Better and GLL have a similar look and feel, but there are a few differences in how they look and behave, and the ways we use them.
We needed Better because GLL is strongly linked with London and leisure centres, and didn’t mean much to our customers. In fact, not many of them even knew who ran their local centre. We needed a customer-focused brand that could help us attract members from across the community, and explain the benefits of the services we have to offer. A strong brand also helps give us direction: Better gives focus to what we do, where we’re going, but most importantly, what we offer our customers.
What do we do?
We promote healthy and active lifestyles, giving communities access to facilities that help improve their health and happiness through participation in activities. It could be gyms, swimming pools, libraries, playgrounds; even huge, world-class venues such as those on the Olympic Park. We offer a great variety.
But we also provide more than access. As a charitable social enterprise, we invest in our communities. And it’s not just money: we also invest time and effort in encouraging everyone to take advantage of our services.
Any surplus money is reinvested into making those services even better, either by training our people or upgrading our facilities.
Where are we heading?
We want to help more people, in more communities, feel better. We’re evolving services and spaces all the time, and expanding to reach new parts of the community. We are putting our customers first, with an ambitious programme to modernise the digital journey to reduce queues and improve convenience. With a focus on good quality, affordable services that people want – and all to make day-to-day life in our communities even better.
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We’re a charitable social enterprise
- We don’t have shareholders like private companies, or any bonuses to pay out. Instead, we invest any surplus money we make back into our services. So far, we’ve invested well over £100m into sport and leisure
- We act as a charity and are here for the good of the communities we operate in
- We believe social values are just as important as financial performance
- We also believe in our people, the staff who make our business work – especially the ones working in our facilities. Many of our senior management team have worked in local government, so we understand what our partners need and the pressures they’re under
- We’re owned by our staff and Society members, who have a non-dividend-paying share in GLL. That means our workforce is empowered, motivated and involved in making important decisions that affect the company. In fact, the majority of our Board are elected by the workforce
- Wherever possible, we work with other social enterprises and buy Fairtrade goods and services.
Our customer commitments
Customer service is at the heart of everything we do. Our commitment to you is the driving force behind our Better brand. We want to get it right every time you ask us a question or visit our facilities. We believe you have the right to know what level of service you can expect from us at any time.
We are striving to provide an excellent service but in the meantime, getting more consistent at what we do for you is our goal. When we get it wrong we want to hear from you so we can deal with your concerns and do it right the next time. We have split the customer service commitments into pledges that we believe encapsulate our service.
Better access to facilities
We understand when you are enjoying your leisure time, you want to make the most of every second. To help speed up service at our centres (and to minimise queues at busy periods) we encourage customers to prepare for their visit.
• Have staff on hand in our reception areas to help you with any aspect of your visit during opening hours
• Make group exercise classes, courts and crèche sessions bookable online, or at reception, up to 14 days in advance from 10pm in the evening (clubs and societies can organise longer term bookings by contacting the General Manager).
• Make as many of our memberships, products and services available to purchase online at www.better.org.uk
• We will continue to invest in technology to simplify our booking and entry process and improve your online experience.
• Allow you to move through reception yourself via self-service kiosks
• Provide self service information desks near reception, giving you access to information and the ability to purchase sports courses, memberships and book sessions
• Wi-Fi is installed in the majority of our larger facilities - so you can stay connected.
As a charitable social enterprise, the health and happiness of our customers is very important to us. We believe everyone in the community should be able to enjoy the many and varied benefits of a healthy and active lifestyle. We do this by providing a variety of sport, leisure and fitness facilities at a range of prices to suit every budget.
- Allow everyone to use our facilities, you don’t have to be a member
- Have a ‘Pay and Play’ pricing option for customers who only want to access our facilities occasionally
- Offer a range of pre-paid memberships (e.g. gym only, swim only), and all inclusive (gym, swim, group exercise classes and racquet sports) giving better value for money for your money
- Offer memberships that gives access to all of the Leisure Centres in the company portfolio
- We will always discuss with you the most appropriate membership for your needs
- Conduct a full analysis (either online, or face to face), to ensure we recommend the most appropriate membership option that suits your individual needs
We plan our programme carefully but, sometimes, your preferred activity will be fully booked, or certain areas of our facilities may be reserved for specific community use.
- Ensure our website and customer information boards clearly display accurate and up to date information on all general admission, and bookable courses or activities
- Make group exercise classes, courts and crèche sessions bookable online, or at reception, up to 14 days in advance from 10pm in the evening (clubs and societies can organise longer term bookings by contacting the General Manager)
- Run a selection of sessions to attract hard to reach community groups
- If there is a restricted session (e.g. women only gym), we will do our best to offer you an alternative activity, or ensure availability programme at a nearby leisure centre
- Try to limit any late or last minute programme changes which affect your visit. But occasionally, unforeseen events beyond our control result in changes to our programme. If this happens, we will do our best to contact you to try and provide an alternative activity, or arrange a credit or refund
- If you want to talk to us our Duty Manager is always available during opening hours. You can contact us via the customer website www.better.org.uk
Being a charitable Social Enterprise is one of the key things that makes us different from the rest. Naturally, we have a strong focus on quality, but it’s what we do with the surplus that really makes us different.
- Provide good quality facilities, that are clean, well maintained, safe, and ready for your enjoyment and use
- Maintain and improve our facilities with an ongoing programme of refurbishment and introduction of new products and services
- Invest in and maintain modern equipment to help you get the most out of your leisure time
- Embrace technology and innovation across our product range to ensure customers can make the most of their local leisure centres
- Reinvest all surpluses back into the services, refurbishing our leisure centres, upgrading the products, investing in community projects or training our staff, we won’t take a penny. Ever.
Better sport and inclusion
There is much more to your local leisure centre than a swim or a session in the gym. Sport can have a positive influence in the community.
- Provide a range of sporting opportunities for local communities by delivering inspirational programmes, campaigns and events, in all of our facilities –from the smallest community Centre local community centre, through to the iconic Olympic venues
- During the next few years our focus sports are athletics, basketball, gymnastics, football, swimming and badminton
- Continue to foster young sporting talent and established athletes through our sports foundation, www.gllsportsfoundation.org
- Our centres are all different so please ask a member of staff about the adaptions that we have made in your centre and we will assist you if you have any specific requirements
- Inclusive and accessible designs are at the heart of planning for the new venues, and all programmes are designed to accommodate diverse groups in the local community.
Better and greener
We believe in putting the community first and that commitment also extends to the reducing our impact on the environment.
- Deliver an annual strategic action plan focused on continued reductions in energy and water use, through more efficient services, investment in new technologies and changes in our behaviour
- Provide recycling facilities to minimise waste we send to landfill
- Where possible, work with fair trade suppliers and support other charities and Social Enterprises
- We’re one of the companies in Britain who maintained our certification to the Carbon Trust Standard in 2016 in recognition of our efforts to continually reduce our carbon emissions
Our staff will always be friendly and approachable. Our facility teams will look after your needs and ensure you have an enjoyable visit.
All staff will be knowledgeable, they’ll receive extensive training to prepare them for present and future roles. We make a difference in our communities by improving career prospects through employment and training opportunities.
Where possible our teams will understand and represent your local community. Take a look at our jobs page to find out how being part of a Charitable Social Enterprise makes a difference.
We are passionate about improving the health of people in communities and recognise that we are all different in the challenges that we face.
- Work with customers to ensure they reach their goals, by providing a full and varied programme of activities
- Encourage everyone in the community to stay active by participating in 5 x 30 minutes of exercise per week (whether walking, gardening, sport or fitness)
- Ensure those who are returning to exercise, can access introductory schemes to ease themselves back into a healthier lifestyle
- We will keep you motivated by running "re-focus" sessions, "you just need to ask"
- Wherever possible, ensure that our sports and fitness equipment is provided with accessibility and inclusion in mind
- Subject to funding, run targeted Healthwise schemes to help people with health conditions where physical activity may improve their overall wellbeing.
Better feedback and information
We want all the information we provide you to be accurate. As a worker-owned charitable Social Enterprise, we want to be completely transparent and honest and your feedback matters. We appreciate all comments (good or bad), and if we get something wrong, let us know and we will do what we can to make it better.
Here are a number of ways to get in touch: