Top leisure chains across the UK join forces to help prevent drowning tragedies this summer

13 June 2017

Drowning prevention Week 2017

Hundreds of centres to take part in RLSS UK’s Drowning Prevention Week campaign

The UK’s top leisure chains have joined forces to help prevent another summer of tragic drownings.

Drowning is a leading cause of accidental death for children in the UK, with latest stats showing that in the last five years 48 children aged nine and under drowned, and 147 young people aged 10 to 19 lost their life.

Summer months are a particularly high-risk time of year. Last year, 85 people accidentally drowned in July and August alone.

Around 400 leisure centres across the UK have signed up to host a week of targeted water safety activities as part of Drowning Prevention Week, meaning hundreds of thousands of children will be taught how to stay safe near water.

Drowning Prevention Week, the national campaign run by the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK), runs between 16 – 26 June 2017. The drowning prevention charity has produced a host of resources to help leisure centres deliver water safety in the hope that by spreading messages far and wide, the number of tragic deaths which occur every year will reduce.

Sandra Dodd, Chief Executive at Places for People Leisure (PfPL) said, “As a social enterprise we aim to have a positive social impact on the health of the communities we serve; improving skills development opportunities and teaching potentially lifesaving skills such as learning to swim and first aid courses. RLSS’s Drowning Prevention Week is therefore a campaign close to our hearts and we are excited to be a part of it, raising awareness and promoting water safety to all.”

This year with the support of RLSS UK, PfPL is offering a whole host of events across 44 of its sites, including Save a Life workshops, Rookie Lifeguard Taster sessions and Family Fun events. Sites will also be delivering sessions within local schools.

In addition, PfPL customers will be taking part in the virtual, 2.5 mile Nevis to St Kitts Swimtag Challenge, based on the annual cross channel race, to raise money for RLSS UK’s drowning prevention work.

Leading leisure management company Everyone Active, which runs over 140 leisure and cultural facilities nationwide, will be offering free swimming to all primary school children as part of its Swim for Everyone sessions during Drowning Prevention Week, hoping to encourage more youngsters to build their skills and confidence in the water.  An estimated 40,000 school children could benefit from this scheme.

Jacqui Tillman, Everyone Active’s Group Swim Manager, said: “Learning to swim is not only fun, but it’s a life-saving skill. Unfortunately, there are still many children across the UK that can’t swim the recommended 25 metres and we, as a business, are committed to improving this. Drowning Prevention Week is a great opportunity to raise national awareness to this issue and we are only too happy to support it.

“We’ll be holding a number of sessions across our centres during the week and we hope they’ll go a long way to encouraging more young people to learn this vital skill.”

Di Steer, RLSS UK’s Chief Executive, said: “We want as many children as possible to learn essential water safety skills, especially at this high-risk time of year.

“Water safety education is at the heart of everything RLSS UK do. Accidental drowning is wholly preventable and by encouraging leisure centres to get involved, we effectively extend our work force and potentially save lives.”

Lucy Herd from Berkshire, who’s 23-month-old son Jack tragically drowned in their garden pond in August 2010, said it was fantastic so many leisure centres were getting behind Drowning Prevention Week and helping to teach people how to stay safe near water.

She said: “Since losing Jack, I have been supporting RLSS UK in the delivery of water safety and drowning prevention messages to raise awareness of the dangers of water. It is so important that everyone knows how to stay safe near water. Losing Jack has affected everyone in his life and I don’t want anyone else to go through what we went through.”

“It only takes a split second for a tragedy to happen. Please, please listen to RLSS UK’s water safety advice to prevent losing any more precious little lives.”

Around 400 leisure centres have signed up for the campaign, with leisure providers such as PfPL, Everyone Active, GLL and David Lloyd pledging their support.

The Drowning Prevention Week campaign annually sees schools, clubs, leisure centres and communities promoting water safety through events, lessons, games and activities in a bid to make people more aware of the dangers of water.

For more information on Drowning Prevention Week – Visit our website at www.rlss.org.uk; Follow us on Twitter – @RLSSUK; Visit our Facebook page – www.facebook.com/RLSSUK; Call – 0300 3230 096

The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) is the Drowning Prevention Charity.  Around 400 people drown in the UK every year and the RLSS UK aims to prevent drowning through water safety education.

Through its trading subsidiary, IQL UK, there are more than 90,000 RLSS UK Pool Lifeguards in the UK trained in the National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ). Around 95 per cent of all pool lifeguards are trained by the RLSS UK.

RLSS UK awards and programmes teach a range of lifesaving skills ranging from life support (CPR) to water survival and rescue skills. Programmes include Rookie Lifeguard, Survive and Save and Save a Baby’s Life (a free course aimed at parents and carers of young children).