Service standards & guidelines

Our vision statement is to get Darlington residents to eat well, move more and live longer.

The Darlington Sport and Physical Activity Strategy 2013/18[pdf document] sets out the overall vision, ambitions and desired outcomes for improving the availability, accessibility and quality of sport and physical activity across the Borough.

This Strategy links in with other local documents including:

Service Standards/Code of Service

Cultural Services Code of Service is the standard we expect all our staff to deliver when dealing with all customers (please see our Are we making you Happy page). Our customers are anyone we come into contact with whilst at work.

We are committed to ensuring that we and the services we provide meet the needs of Darlington's residents and visitors. We can only do this if we know what people want. This is why we carry out consultations and involve you in planning how our services operate in the future.

If you would like to provide us with any feedback about our service please complete our feedback form [online form, opens in new window]. You can also complete one of our feedback cards, which are available at both our venues.

If you experience any problems with the service provided, require further information or have any comments to make, please speak to a member of staff or contact us on 01325 406000 (Dolphin Centre) or by email at [email protected].

Dolphin Centre Academy

The Dolphin Centre has undertaken a pioneering approach to develop and nurture entrepreneurial mind-sets right across the organisation. They have created a culture whereby staff are fully supported and actively encouraged to behave entrepreneurially – responsibly, passion and drive are key characteristics that are displayed in all employees. Part of the Dolphin Centre journey has been its successful approval as an IOEE Enterprise Academy, the status has been used to create structure, recognition and support to ensure they could develop into the entrepreneurial organisation they wished to become. A range of qualifications have been created specifically for the Dolphin Centre Academy, ensuring staff develop the intrepreneurial skills necessary to help the organisation to survive and thrive within an extremely challenging environment. 


All pool lifeguards are qualified to the national standards required by The Royal Lifesaving Society [external link] and the Institute of Sport and Recreation Management [external link]. We expect the highest level of vigilance from our lifeguards at all times and as such they are required to carry out lifeguard training at least once every three weeks.

Soft Play Assistants

The Dolphin Centre Crèche is inspected by Ofsted and all are assistants are qualified to NVQ level 2/3 in Child Care.


All Coaches are qualified to a standard stipulated by the relevant governing body.

Gym Instructors

All staff working in the gym are a minimum Level 2 qualified Gym Instructors, but mostly level 3. 

A Clean, Safe and Comfortable Environment

All changing and toilet facilities are inspected at regular intervals by a member of staff and any problems dealt with immediately. All equipment is inspected daily to ensure that it is safe working order. We will take reasonable and practical steps to protect your health, safety and security and will comply with all relevant Health and Safety legislation and guidelines. To ensure your comfort and enjoyment, environmental conditions will be maintained at a level appropriate to the activity taking place. There is always at least one qualified First Aider on duty whenever the centre is open. We have an Emergency Action Plan in place, in which all our staff are trained.

The chemical content of the swimming pool is tested at regular intervals for your safety and comfort. Pool water temperature is maintained around 28ºC. The water is independently tested regularly to ensure its quality.

Accurate Information

Information on opening times, activities and prices will be available in the reception area, as well as online. All equipment and related facilities will be in good working order. 

We will provide activities and programmes that we feel represent value for money. We offer concessionary schemes, such as the Dolphin Centre Card, in addition to a choice of payment methods.

Choice and Equality

We will offer a wide choice of activities for all ages and abilities, either directly or by working with other organisations. We will actively encourage participation from all sections of the community. We will respect people’s individuality and ask that customers do the same. 


More information about accessibility


We use a range of indicators to measure how well we are performing such as:

Customer Satisfaction Surveys

We carry out yearly customer satisfaction surveys four times a year with regard to the overall facilities at the Dolphin Centre. Random participants are selected as they access the services and the surveys are carried out through fact-to-face interview. 

Complaints, Comments and Compliments

We capture complaints, comments and compliments by the following means: verbally, letters, emails, We Make Customers Happy feedback cards, feedback diaries and online feedback forms.

Mystery Shopping Report

We carry out mystery shopping and service audits during the year on various business areas within the Dolphin Centre. Actions from our Mystery Shopping Report are logged on our Service Improvement Log to look at any improvements we can make and observations are filtered through our Academy training programme.

Service Improvement

We drive service improvements through customer and staff suggestions. These ideas are held and managed on our service improvement logs.