'Volunteering with the RNLI has helped my autism by focusing my mind.'
A 24-year-old RNLI volunteer crew member has spoken about how his lifesaving role with the charity has helped him manage his autism.
Aidan Gorman volunteered to join the crew at Withernsea RNLI in 2018, following a lifelong dream to join the RNLI. This World Autism Awareness Week, he has shared his story.
Aidan said, ‘Joining the RNLI crew at Withernsea has been really good for me, and for my autism. I find being on the crew keeps me busy and keeps my mind focused, and it gives me something to look forward to.
‘The crew have been really welcoming and understanding, and have given me a chance. I’ve faced a few challenges regarding the training: there are a lot of different modules and various tests to pass each module, which I’ve found challenging. However, with the right help, support and guidance from my fellow crew members, I’ve been able to do it.’
At the start of February, Aidan went on his first call-out for the charity – to a night-time search. ‘Going on my first call-out has got to be my favourite moment of being on the crew, so far,’ he recalls. ‘I really enjoy the challenge of night-time call-outs and training exercises – there’s a certain buzz to them, and there’s a lot more in the equation which you have to think about. It really makes push your own boundaries.
‘I’d always dreamed of joining the RNLI as a crew member. Ever since I saw my first lifeboat in Whitby, and my Grandad bought me a toy lifeboat – I still have it somewhere! I wanted to do something worthwhile, and follow a dream. It’s definitely lived up to my expectations.’
Aidan has this advice: ‘Don’t be afraid of putting yourself out there, and achieving your ambitions and goals. Life’s really short, so make the most of it and do it while you can.’
RNLI lifeboat crew volunteers are on-call 24/7 to respond to the call to help save lives at sea. Aidan said, ‘Being on call has given me a routine and a structure. Of course, it can be annoying when my mates want to go into town, and I have to tell them I can’t because I’m on call – but that’s part of it, and why I joined.
‘The lifeboat station is a really welcoming and friendly place, and there’s a really close-knit community. I often socialise with them outside of lifeboating too, and we can have a laugh together, which is really nice. They’ve been really understanding about my autism.’
Ninety-five per cent of RNLI people are volunteers. The charity has a wide variety of volunteering roles available – from operational crew like Aidan, to shop volunteers, volunteer fundraisers, and more. For more information on how to volunteer with the RNLI, visit: RNLI.org.uk/Volunteering
RNLI media contacts
For more information please telephone Jennifer Clough, RNLI Press Officer on 01202 336789, or email Jennifer_Clough@RNLI.org.uk
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.