Hello and thank you for taking the time to read this blog.

It has been a while since the last one but, as you can imagine, things have been a little hectic since January 2021! I won’t dwell on us going back into a lockdown at the start of the year, I want to focus on the positive changes since then.

Earlier in the year, I felt privileged to witness and play a small part in, the wonderful efforts of everyone involved with the NHS and the rollout of the vaccination programme, when I volunteered at our local vaccination centre. Getting the UK population vaccinated has enabled many of our volunteers, lifeguards and clubs to resume their work and since March, we have seen a substantial increase in activity.

Coming up is the most important consumer campaign in our calendar for 2021 – Drowning Prevention Week 19-26 June. Of course, our water safety messaging never stops but this year we recognise that this week, the messages and advice we put out, will be more relevant and important than ever.

Despite many challenges still facing the UK and Ireland, we expect there to be a huge surge in participation in leisure-based activities in, on or near water. When the sun shines and people head to the coast and countryside to enjoy their staycations, the sea, rivers, canals, lakes and pools become a huge attraction. Knowing this, coupled with the worrying statistic that millions of young people have missed vital swimming and water safety lessons, it is critical that we spread our messages on how to keep people safe and ensure that everyone enjoys water safely, far and wide.

To help with this, we have produced a consumer e-magazine – a one-stop shop for everything you need to know about water safety. It’s packed full of tips, advice and stories to help you and yours enjoy water safely, and includes videos and posters. I’ve already entered our virtual duck race too! At £3 per duck, it’s a novel way to raise funds to help us provide even more resources in the future, helping us protect more lives, helping us educate children on the benefits and risks of water, and ultimately, helping us to help everyone to ENJOY WATER SAFELY.

I know you’ll join me in this, next week and beyond.

On a staffing note, we have a number of Kickstart places still vacant, so if you know anyone who meets the criteria (just search for Kickstart UK) then please ask them to contact their local Job Centre.

As we support the Government’s ‘levelling up’ skills agenda, we are delighted to be working with Vision West Nottinghamshire College and Active Apprentice, to provide funded training. Learners will have the opportunity to access courses that are most relevant to, and in-demand by, the sport and physical activity sector, with the potential to gain transferable skills and sustainable employment. You can visit rlss.org.uk for more information.

Back in the office, as life picks up pace again, we are handling more email, phone, and online queries than anyone can ever remember, in our recent history. As before, I ask for your patience as we work hard to process any backlogs. We are bringing in additional staff to help with the demand.

Our Society is here to enhance communities so that everyone can enjoy being in, on or near water safely.

We all know that with the right knowledge, kit, awareness of the conditions, and your own abilities, drowning is preventable. Drowning Prevention Week is aimed at helping you and the wider public, improve all of these skills.

As a parent, I understand how much fun water-based activities can be - get me in the surf, a pool or at an aqua park and we can all have family fun together, sharing special moments with each other. But already we have seen far too many tragedies that affect families for a lifetime.

It’s crucial that people understand that, even if you are not a swimmer, water safety education will help save lives.

We are incredibly grateful to all our partners for pushing out our water safety advice, in particular, members of the National Water Safety Forum who united behind the #respectthewater campaign, and to organisations like dryrobe, who have kindly donated some of their amazing range to encourage everyone to share #drowningpreventionweek.

Don’t forget! Everybody who shares the message and uses the hashtags #drowningpreventionweek and #enjoywatersafely, and tags @RLSSUK, will automatically be entered into the dryrobe prize draw. 

I am also incredibly grateful to every school that is supporting the week. Already, we have received more sign-ups than ever before and this gives them access to our free educational resources. We have also received unprecedented media interest which is very exciting news and hopefully a sign that this could be our most successful campaign yet.

Last but not least, a huge amount of thanks must go to the team at RLSS UK.

Thank you.

Robert