My RLSS UK

Welcome to My RLSS UK, an online area dedicated to providing our qualification holders, members, stakeholders, and supporters with easy access to the latest industry safety guidance, policies, resources, and opportunities. As well as providing specialist information, the area signposts you to relevant services and features within your RLSS UK Account (powered by tahdah). 

Every individual, organisation, club, branch, and group in our community is invaluable to us, and we endeavour to provide solutions and added value wherever possible in the hope that you will become a lifelong ambassador of the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK). Together we can work towards the Charity's mission to be the leader in lifesaving and lifeguarding in the UK and Ireland. By sharing our combined expertise and knowledge, with as many people as possible, we can provide everyone with the potential to save lives and enjoy water safely. 

We hope you find the area useful, if you require further support please call 0300 323 0096 or email [email protected]. 

Members will be aware that in 2022 the Scottish Branches agreed to trial a new approach to supporting community lifesaving.

The world and environment are ever-changing around us, and this includes how volunteers are able to give their time and energy. Following a period of RLSS UK surveying and consulting with its members, there was a clear mandate for change, to explore new ways of working, and building on our past infrastructure. The intended goal of the pilot was to explore how our community lifesaving infrastructure could evolve to be progressive and sustainable for many more years.

The branches in Scotland were forward-thinking as a collective and so were keen to lead the way, initially in partnership with the Northumberland and Durham Branch on a discovery phase, to test new approaches and possibly reimagine how branches operate.

To make way for a new approach, the branches in Scotland, as we historically know them, were temporarily placed into dormancy. An appointed voluntary Coordinating Group was set up to lead the pilot. Many individuals involved in the group were formerly connected with branches but one of the many positive concluding points of the pilot is that this approach, following a volunteer recruitment process was its ability to attract new people. 

The pilot has now reached its conclusion, with the Coordinating Group providing its report and recommendations to the RLSS UK Trustee Board.

Several key challenges arose through the pilot. Most notably the difficulties operating across a large geographical space and in addition, the wide remit that was expected of the committed volunteers in the pilot group (mirrored in branches), ranging from campaigning, partnership work, club support, delivery of community events, delivery of community training, school education and so on. It is for these reasons that over the coming months we are transitioning to revert back to our original branch structure in Scotland and we will be working with branches across the wider network to discuss future developments.

The pilot was beneficial in so many ways, but the challenges that persisted in branches continued in the pilot and were often compounded by larger geographical areas. There were crucial learnings that are now shaping national policy. Here is an overview of the pilot's contribution to forward recommendations:

  • The pilot created several policies and procedures that can be rolled out across the wider network, supporting best practices. 
  • 83% of current branch officers also sit on a club committee. Across the RLSS UK network the level of activity in branches correlates with the number of clubs in each branch. This means that there is motivation for clubs, and more clubs equals more branch activity. The role of the branch must be focused, so that volunteers feel passionate about the work they are involved in. This produces a clear and motivational purpose for branches, built around their club community. 
  • Attention needs to be given to change management and the process to convert to evolving ways of working.
  • A hybrid approach for appointing committee members. The society will now transition to a process where members would elect the three main committee roles and then the committee should run an open recruitment process, via application to appoint to any other roles that are needed to fulfill the aspirations of the branch.
  • Understanding boundaries and encouraging autonomy, such as ensuring we enable volunteers, working with GDPR regulations to make sure there is safe and secure access to data in a manner that suits volunteers.
  • Exploring the governance of branches, including moving away from the branches’ requirement to host AGMs, a task that often takes up important volunteer time.

What Happens Next

In Scotland, a group of volunteers representing historic branches is now leading a strategy to move to reinstate Scottish branch areas. For the wider network, the staff team is currently planning to work with key stakeholders to support branches in understanding the changes that have been agreed upon as a result of the pilot.

We are currently in the planning phase to appoint part-time and temporary staff resource to provide direct, dedicated support to help branches to understand the changes and provide any direct help in transitioning.

There are many branches in our network that are well resourced to operate effectively but there are also many that need more help and support. Structural changes, a revised purpose, in line with staff support have been purposefully designed to help reinvigorate all of the RLSS UK network.

Matt Croxall’s (Interim Charity Director) closing comments on the pilot

“We would like to thank Sheena Harper, Lead Coordinator of the pilot, and her team. Leading change when there is much history in RLSS UK is very challenging and there is utmost admiration for the team for their bravery to suggest Scotland as a pilot area and for their tenacity to try new things.

"The pilot has helped develop some clarity for the way forward. Challenges that branches face every day, especially difficulties associated with delivering such a wide remit, when the responsibility is placed on, typically, a few dedicated individuals, were still evident in the pilot. Instead of expanding geography, the decision has been taken to refine responsibilities. Leaning into areas that motivate the majority of our branch volunteers. 

"We look forward to a bright and prosperous future where RLSS UK Branches are at the heart of supporting good quality clubs to educate as many people as possible in their local community, and where achievable, delivering wider community-based initiatives.”