The TrUSt Model

A Welsh translated version of this video can also be found at

  • Why Charitable Trusts are great
  • About Charitable Trusts
  • The Charitable Trust Model on a page
  • How is a Charitable Trust defined
  • How do Charitable Trusts make a difference
  • Our Charter of Integrity
  • Why Charitable Trusts are great!

    Here’s a quick summary!

    Charitable Trusts come in all shapes and sizes.

    But they all have two things in common. To do good and make things better. 

    Your Local Leisure and Culture Trust is no different.

    They help make your community better because as a charitable organisation they are set up to do good.

    Every penny they make goes back into local facilities like gyms, pools, parks, museums and libraries.

    Or to create new programmes communities want and need like health walks, concerts or programmes to keep us all fitter as we get older. 

    This cross-subsidy approach distinguishes the model from other public leisure services because profit generating activities subsidise non-profit generating activities such as health, library and outreach programmes.

    And with a combined turnover of £2 billion* a year – that’s a lot of money going back into the local economy.

    It also enables income from users who can afford to pay to be ring-fenced to subsidise access to activities.

    Trusts don’t have shareholders and they are NOT private businesses.  

    You might not have even heard of them. Yet people visit their facilities 414 million times every year.*

    They work in partnership with local councils, they listen to communities, they are transparent. Each trust delivers slightly different programmes which reflect the need within the community. And it’s not just councils our members partner with. Partnership working is part of their DNA and our members work with health partners, social care partners and other third sector organisations and charities.

    And they are run by board members from the local community.

    Agile and flexible trusts are able to adapt and diversify to create resilience, highlighted by the diverse and ever expanding portfolio of our members.


    About Charitable Trusts

    All members are leisure and culture trusts and are either registered charities or registered charitable societies. 

    Trusts do not distribute profit and instead reinvest every pound generated into the provision of quality leisure and culture services and facilities. Trusts are rooted in the local communities they serve, with specific services designed and supported through the cross-subsidy model to support those in most need.

    Community Leisure UK members’ manage facilities including: swimming pools, libraries, museums, pitches, gyms, ice arenas, beach fronts, parks, heritage buildings and children’s centres. Importantly, members deliver vital community services such as exercise or books on prescription, short breaks for disabled children, adult social care support programmes, walking programmes, internet access courses, apprenticeships and training, and sports participation programmes.

    As a members’ association, Community Leisure UK is responsible to its members and an appointed Board.  The Board is made up of member trust Chief Executive Officers or Managing Directors who are democratically appointed by the membership.

    The Charitable Trust Model On A Page

    Here’s it all explained on one simple page.


    How is a Charitable Trust defined?

    Currently 43% of public leisure provision across England, 50% Wales and 85% across Scotland, use the trust model. The word ‘trust’ in this context refers to non-profit-distributing and independent organisations. To date, Community Leisure UK’s 113 members deliver over 3,870 services and facilities, employ over 100,000 staff, and received 414 MILLION customer visits in 2019.

    Trusts are legally constituted as:

    • Companies Limited by Guarantee with charitable status
    • Community Benefit Societies with charitable status
    • Community Interest Companies (CICs), or
    • Charitable Incorporated Organisations / Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation

    The model of trusts, according to a survey carried out by Winckworth Sherwood (Trusts for Big Society, 2010)

    “…enable individuals and communities to participate”.

    The model of the trust focuses on utilising cross-subsidy, in two ways:

    • Cross-subsidy of services – profit generating leisure activities will subsidise some health, community-based, library activities etc; and
    • Cross-subsidy of individuals – where those that can afford to pay support those who need a subsidy, or those activities that need to be subsidised.

    Importantly Winckworth Sherwood (Trusts for Big Society, 2010) note that;

    Leisure and culture trusts contribute to and deliver across communities, reducing health inequalities, providing safe havens and spaces, and supporting and developing other local civil society organisations and stakeholders.

    Increasingly trusts are the only social infrastructure in communities. Winckworth Sherwood (Trusts for Big Society, 2010) highlighted core advantages of the trust model

    How do Charitable Trusts make a difference?

    Why do Trusts do what they do. Because all 113 Trust across England, Wales and Scotland share a passion to improve social, mental and physical wellbeing.

    And the difference they make together is remarkable. Improving people’s health & wellbeing means reducing the cost of treatment and care later in life. It can help reduce crime and improve educational outcomes as well as increasing personal happiness.

    That carries a social value of £1.5 Billion**.

    This figure is from the Social Value calculator developed by Sheffield Hallam University in partnership with 4global and Experian. The social value calculator measures 15 outcomes grouped under 4 categories:

    • Physical and mental health
    • Mental wellbeing
    • Individual development
    • Social and Community development

    This is an impressive figure but it is hard to convey or even imagine the thousands of individual lives changed for the better each year by the Trust Model. From people now living healthier lives after joining specialist weight programmes to those living happier lives after a creative programme. To those whose lives have been helped through dementia friendly programmes or elderly people in care homes who are now safer after a falls prevention programme.

    Our members inspire and help individuals and communities and as a result they have thousands upon thousands of success stories. 

    *based on 2019 data.

    ** Figure from Moving Communities using the social value calculator developed by Sheffield Hallam University in partnership with 4global and Experian.

    What’s Community Leisure UK’s Charter of Integrity?

    It spells out what trusts can and can’t do. For instance, they must invest or apply all surpluses to their charitable objectives. They are completely independent and do not distribute revenues or dividends to shareholders. Instead they invest or otherwise apply all surpluses to their charitable objective. You can read the full Charter here