Four members of the BULSCA Committee attended the RLSS UK Conference 2017 in order to learn more about how to engage members and promote lifesaving, both within BULSCA and externally. Their thoughts on the workshops provided and the conference as a whole are given in this article.

 
This was my first RLSS conference, and first event as BULSCA Chair. The event was a great way to see what is happening in the RLSS, outside branch level and BULSCA.
After a welcome from RLSS CEO Di Steer, there was an inspiring keynote speech from swimmer Chris Cook about his journey and motivation through his training.
There were further talks, including one from Sport England on their good practice for club development resource,‘Club Matters’, and good safeguarding. The morning session was interesting, with lots of inspiring messages and informative presentations. This set the tone for the seminars that we went on to after a coffee break.
 
Utilising the media workshop
As the communications officer, this workshop was of great interest to me. Its primary focus was the use of live and pre-recorded television interviews. This would be difficult to implement in BULSCA on a regular basis but did give rise to the idea of using Facebook Live to promote our presence on social media. This feature could be used to film the fastest heat of the swim/tow or other speed event at a competition or a SERC. The committee understands that caution would have to be taken to ensure that all parties being filmed were aware and had consented to it as well as ensuring that no filming of minors occurred.
 
Engaging the community
As the club development officer, I found that this session was very good for networking, we did a lot of group discussions and it was interesting to hear people’s successes but was
more interesting to see what barriers people faced. We discussed a lot about sharing solutions for barriers and some of these were about getting more young people involved. The session focused on partnership working and braking down the issues people had with doing so.
 
Getting more volunteers
This workshop focuses on collecting the ideas from a large group of clubs and different branches to explore which methods of recruitment of volunteers was deemed most successful. It also covered how to maintain volunteers and ensure that the workload was spread between them. The latter part of the workshop focused on supporting the development of the volunteers and ensuring that it was a mutually beneficial relationship. One of the key aspects highlighted in this session was methods for development of volunteers. In BULSCA our volunteers are a mix of qualified judges and SERC bodies and runners and this session really highlighted the need for the BULSCA committee to consider if we are doing the maximum possible to engage our volunteers.
 
Leisure Industry Partnerships
This workshop focused on how to make connections and partnerships in the leisure industry, ranging from sports centres and health clubs to hotels and dual-use facilities. We have a lot to offer these organisations with the RLSS UK campaigns and lifesaving training expertise. The business can benefit from the good publicity of being a socially aware organisation and financially
through running courses. We can benefit as clubs through gaining facility use, use of their existing marketing channels and potentially through sponsorship. We can work with other clubs (even from other disciplines to get a desired outcome, as we are stronger together. We should also think about chains and how we can minimise effort spent by selling once and getting the lot, and dealing directly with a person with the authority required. If we are prepared then we will have the best chance of successful partnerships with the leisure industry being forged.
 
Saturday Closing Speeches
After the workshops, there was a presentation from the RLSS, explaining the progress in an ongoing review of the RLSS’s non-vocational awards (Survive and Save and Rookie
Lifeguard). It was great to hear the methods the RLSS is using to get feedback and how they’re acting on it to try to improve awards for clubs and members, making them more
accessible and affordable, but keeping them informative and useful. Throughout the day, attendees had been voting on the ‘branch challenge’, a friendly competition between branches. The West Wales branch, working with Swansea University, was voted the winners for their community work. Congratulations to them!
This brought the conference to an end for day one, concluding with the RLSS AGM.
 
Sunday workshops
The second day of the conference began with a welcome from Ian Hutchings, the President of the RLSS, followed by a talk on increasing and improving trainer led processing. The talk described the move to paperless processing of awards, in line with some of the results from the awards review discussed the previous day. The rest of the day was given over to various courses, including an instructor tutor course, which was attended by several BULSCA members. This will allow us to train more lifesaving instructors in BULSCA and in community clubs. The course was informative and interesting, providing a useful recap of teaching skills covered in the instructor course, as well as covering the content needed to upgrade to instructor tutor.
 
Finally, we would like to extend our thanks to the Avon and North Wiltshire and South Yorkshire branches for funding and supporting the BULSCA committee in attending this
event.