Welcome to 2021 and I hope you all made the best of Christmas and New Year and, like our family, you managed some form of celebration at the stroke of midnight. Our evening was spent on Zoom with family and friends – which was unique but all a little odd!

I don’t want to reflect too much about last year, we came through it okay and made great progress on many fronts but, let’s face it, it was pretty tough for everyone. Lockdowns, COVID mutations, different waves and devolved nations taking different courses of action, have all kept us on our toes! In response, our guidance has evolved and will continue to do so. In tough circumstances, we have pulled together and, I am thankful to our dedicated team who got us through the year.

I do want to mention two significant technology developments for RLSS UK that occurred last year:

Firstly, during 2020 we began the roll-out of a new database system, which when fully up and running will be ground-breaking in many ways, and was introduced because it will deliver a host of new features. The transfer has created some challenges, and I know that for some people, this has caused frustration. We share these feelings, and have been working very closely with the external supplier of the system to solve these issues, as quickly as possible. We welcome your feedback on this transfer, to ensure all the bugs are identified and passed to the supplier to resolve.

The second major change has been the evolution of RLSS Direct. Our new RLSS UK Shop (previously RLSS Direct) is now powered by the well-known platform Shopify and, over time, will showcase a range of new products and membership benefits. The new site shares a single sign-in with the new database so we will be able to offer promotions, incentives and discounts, exclusively for our members.

We never envisaged building two new systems during a pandemic but, I hope that over time you, will see some fantastic benefits from these changes.

Please bear with us.

A new year is all about looking forward but it is almost inevitable, that the first few months of 2021 are set up to be the toughest yet.

Therefore, in light of the recent Government-imposed lockdown, we are once again scaling down our staff operation and using the Government furlough scheme until restrictions start to ease. This is never an easy decision, and I know that our telephone and email customer services will be compromised. Your patience and co-operation at this time is greatly appreciated.

Hopefully, this should only be up to spring as more people access the vaccines. I hope that by then we should see swimming pools, leisure centres and gyms re-opening. We will campaign to ensure that these are opened as quickly as possible, but I’m sure you will agree that, the only way to get off this rollercoaster is to support the Government’s programme for mass vaccination. We must push for this to be on a scale that we have never seen before, and we will offer any assistance that is needed to make this happen.

As I write this blog, Brian Pinker has become the first patient to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and follows Margaret Keenan, who was the first patient to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine - store these names in your memory bank for future quizzes!

This is fantastic news and a hugely positive signal for the future.

Until then, and with little Government notice, we are having to react to significant decisions that cause great changes to our sector and our capability.  We need to make decisions that affect our guidance very quickly, so I would urge you to follow our social media platforms for the latest developments:

(@RLSSUK): Twitter(@RLSSUK): Facebook, (@rlssuk): Instagram, Royal Life Saving Society UK - RLSS UK | LinkedIn or regularly visit the COVID-19 section on our website COVID-19 | Royal Life Saving Society UK ( RLSS UK )

Thank you for all your ongoing support. I hope it will continue and I look forward to an ‘improving’ 2021!

Robert