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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 05 February 2007

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City cabbies lead fitness drive

THE METER is running on a healthy future for people in Liverpool.  Specially-branded ‘lifestyles’ taxis are about to hit the streets to spread the fitness message across the city and encourage local people to hot-foot it down to their local gym.

The bright, colourful vehicles, emblazoned with the words ‘Activate your lifestyle – today!’, aim to give everyone the motivation to kick-start the new year by taking up exercise.  It’s the latest part of Liverpool’s drive to improve fitness levels and reduce obesity.

Council leader Warren Bradley said:- “We all want to be fit and healthy but it’s very easy to get into bad habits and not so easy to motivate ourselves. So it’s really important that we all receive constant reminders about the benefits of taking regular exercise and keeping active.  Working in partnership with local taxi drivers is a great way of spreading the health and fitness message far and wide. It’s about breaking down barriers to health and fitness and placing exercise at the heart of people’s everyday lives.

We hope our ‘
fitness fleet’ can help us urge hundreds more Liverpudlians, young and old, to get down to their local gym and show them that getting fit is actually a lot of fun. From swimming to fully equipped gyms, and from five-a-side football to aerobics, our 14 centres offer something for everyone. And the leisure passes we introduced last year means local children can now go for free.”

The new lifestyles fitness campaign is being run in partnership with Cabvert Media, the UK's largest independent taxi advertiser.

Head of Sport and Recreation Services, Chris Briggs, said:- "We've invested more than £40 million in our leisure facilities over the last decade and this is the latest part of our mission to make sure everyone in Liverpool is making the most of them.  Our gyms are at the forefront of providing the best possible health and fitness facilities for people of all ages to counter heart disease, cancer and obesity in Liverpool.  The branded taxis will be visible in Liverpool throughout 2007, making sure the ‘Activate your lifestyle’ message is taken to the heart of all our neighbourhoods.”

Almost 50,000 people a week are now visiting Liverpool’s gyms, swimming pools, sports halls and pitches - known as 'Lifestyles Fitness Centres' - 2,500 more than the same period last year.  The city council is working hard to drive these figures up even further. Over the past year, the council has introduced a wide range of innovative fitness initiatives, including putting gym equipment in libraries and launching a healthy schools bus which visits pupils throughout the city.

1 IN 7 BRITS SPEAK TO CALL CENTRES MORE OFTEN THAN FRIENDS AND FAMILY

MORE than a quarter of people from the North West who speak to call centres at least once a year agree that talking to call centres is the most frustrating thing in their daily life.  New research released by MORE TH>N suggests call centres have become so ingrained in our daily lives that around 6.6 million Brits speak to them more often than they do to their own friends and family.

It seems we have become a nation of electronic communicators; when asked to think about their wider family and friends, 42% of people from the North West who speak to wider friends and family at least once a year now communicate with friends and family by email, and 24% get in touch by text messages. 16% confess they don’t actually like talking on the phone.

The research, which examined people’s attitudes towards call centres, also reveals that more than a quarter of people from the North West who speak to call centres at least once a year find them to be the most frustrating thing in their day to day lives. 70% are irritated by having to explain their situation repeatedly to a series of different people. For 53%, the irritation is simply being passed on to lots of different people and nearly four in ten claim their biggest frustration is when call centres do not call them back when they promise to.

Mo Shapiro, a communications psychologist, commented on MORE TH>N’s findings:- “Call centres are more than ever part of everyday UK life. Despite many people speaking to them more often than their loved ones, they can get quite frustrated with the whole experience. They are ready for a fight before they begin and irritations can build up when they spend a long time giving identical information to a number of different people. They are ringing because they have a complaint or a question and they already have negative expectations. Stress and angst often occur when we feel that we are not in control of a situation and not being listened to.”

Mike Holliday-Williams, managing director at MORE TH>N, said:- “It’s clear that in our time-poor society, people simply can’t be sat for hours on the phone, especially when they are at work. This could be part of the reason people limit calls to their friends and family, but some don’t have the choice when it comes to call centres."

Mo Shapiro continued:- “We are increasingly used to communicating by text or email and so have come to expect a much quicker response to queries and concerns. As we become less used to conversation it is vitally important we can talk to call centre operators with whom we feel comfortable and familiar. We need to feel we are being treated like individuals and in communication with a sympathetic human being.”

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