The annual RLSS UK Conference was held last weekend, 30th June – 1st July at Hinckley Island in Leistershire. Three members of the BULSCA committee attended with sponsorship from the Avon and North Wiltshire and Wessex RLSS UK branches, and were able to represent both their branches and BULSCA. A few things were presented and shared at the weekend which may be relevant to BULSCA clubs and members, which have been noted down and will hopefully be of use! Once power point presentations are made available to attendees, we will do our best to share these with you also.
Lifesaving awards review
RLSS UK is conducting a big review on the awards that they offer, as well as introducing the new Water Smart Award. Feedback showed that a national water safety standard, accreditation for existing awards, a dry side award and an award for under 8’s were all things that society members would like to see in terms of awards from RLSS UK.
Following the development of the Water Smart Award, as discussed later, the next stage of the review will focus on the future of Survive and Save programmes. Each strand is being re-written to make them standalone, the programmes will be simplified, perhaps renamed and will be moved to online processing, which will be easier and quicker than the current procedure. The timed swim will be removed from the Bronze Medallion, costs will be reviewed and medallion and beach/open water courses will allow candidates to have reduced time off NPLQ/ beach/open water equivalent course. One aim of this is to retain lifesavers and lifeguards within clubs once qualifying, ultimately increasing membership and participation in lifesaving. There will be a transition period once the review has been completed to accommodate any refurbishments to current programmes.
Water Smart Award
The Water Smart Award addresses the need for a national water safety standard, and is something that RLSS UK feels should be achieved by everyone in the UK and Ireland. The award has been approved by the Approval and Appraisal group, which consists solely of volunteers and may provide a good fundraising opportunity for BULSCA clubs. The audience for the award includes anyone who is seeking to raise water safety awareness, from the clubs themselves, leisure centres, schools and community groups such as Scouts and Cadets, the course is easy and straightforward. There is no specific age guidance, but the award is delivered according to candidate ability and provides a base level of water safety knowledge. Joshua has composed an overview of the course which outlines the main details.
RLSS UK is looking at rolling out a new bench mark for clubs. Clubs view their success differently from one another and Club 2020 aims to support individual clubs with their individual goals and paths to success, without the tight regulations such as those with IQL. It will ensure that clubs have the correct products and resources to enable adaptation within their respective communities, and assist in overcoming each clubs challenges and identifying their opportunities.
‘Affiliated Club’ level is the minimum operating level which the RLSS expects of its clubs, where they can then move on to becoming an ‘Accredited Club’ once it can be shown that the club is running a safe environment for its members. There are further levels which clubs are able to achieve, each with set requirements such as appointing a trained safeguarding officer and having a constitution, and other requirements which can be adapted to suit the club and its aims. The BULSCA committee is in talks with headquarters on how this will apply to University Lifesaving clubs, as there are some small differences between them and other community clubs.
The Club 2020 matrix will assist in the creation of new Lifesaving clubs.
Andrea Roberts is currently working on reviewing RLSS UK membership and would like as many people to have an input as possible. As part of the review, Andrea would like opinions on what members use their RLSS UK membership for, why it is important for them and what more they would like to see from the RLSS as a member. If you are interested in participating in the discussion, there is a Facebook group where you can get involved in the discussion.
Creating PR Opportunities to promote your activity
It is useful for clubs to have contacts with their local media outlets, as well as local RLSS UK branches and other community clubs within the area in order to improve recognition of both the work and activity the club carries out and also spread the message of drowning prevention further by working with others.
Events and campaigns will raise awareness as well as increase involvement in activity. Ensure your Universities and Student Unions know what you’re getting up to! If your activity is more community focused, let your other local media know and perhaps reach out to other clubs within your area to widen involvement. Don’t be afraid to contact your local branch or RLSS UK HQ for some help with producing an article, or accessing contact information for local media. If you are running a campaign within your University and/or local area, ensuring a consistency in messaging will help to gain traction and assist in increasing the reach of your messaging.
If you have any questions about RLSS conference, please do not hesitate to contact the BULSCA committee. As mentioned previously, we will endeavour to provide presentations which were delivered if possible when they are made available to us, however we hope that this article provides the most relevant information to BULSCA clubs.