INVERCLYDE Leisure bosses have been forced to put more than 220 staff on the furlough scheme as the coronavirus crisis continues.

The trust, which runs local swimming pools, gyms, community halls and outdoor sports facilities faced a loss of up to £450,000 a month as a result of shutting down.

Drastic action had to be taken to get through the lockdown, which has been extended for another three weeks.

Head of leisure and community facilities David McCorkindale and his team are continuing to run some online services and support vulnerable clients.

They are drawing up plans to open back up in the future.

Mr McCorkindale said: "We have put ninety per cent of our staff on furlough at this time.

"We need to keep some staff to check the buildings and the swimming pools.

"We will continue with our online sessions.

"We are also looking at the future and putting plans in place when the time comes to open up.

"At this point it is about keeping people safe."

Inverclyde Leisure will also continue with supporting people referred from health services through their Live Active scheme.

The trust also supports cancer patients who attend their Move More classes, in partnership with Macmillan.

Bosses say they are investing in a virtual fitness training scheme called Wellbeats which is open to everyone.

In the meantime the trust has been busy supporting the coronavirus relief effort in the community, providing gym equipment to IRH along with protective equipment.

They also handed Crawfurdsburn Community Centre over to Belville Community Garden as a base for their self-isolation boxes scheme.

The Tele reported at the outset of the coronavirus outbreak how the council had drawn up a plan to support Inverclyde Leisure.

The local authority pays the trust an annual management fee which has been cut in recent years.

Municipal Buildings bosses are said to be working with IL colleagues to look at ways to support them, as they still face a funding gap of around £150,000.