Next steps in our partnership with the BSA

We’re working with the Black Swimming Association to develop a Water Safety Programme for ethnically diverse communities.

Black Swimming Association and RNLI representatives

Photo: Black Swimming Association

This summer, the RNLI announced a new lifesaving partnership with the Black Swimming Association (BSA). We’ve joined forces to reach more ethnically diverse communities around the UK and Ireland with vital water safety skills and education. 

Everyone should have access to water safety advice and be able to learn swimming as a lifesaving skill. But according to Swim England, 95% of Black adults and 80% of Black children in England do not swim.*

In England and Wales, 14% of the national average population live within 1km of waterways. This rises to 20% for those from African, Caribbean and Asian heritage.** And these communities are classed as being at higher risk of drowning due to very little, and in some cases, no water safety awareness. 

The RNLI and the BSA want to change this, and we know we can maximise our impact by working together. 

The RNLI is very experienced at delivering water safety messages; however, we are not currently reaching everyone with our lifesaving advice. And the BSA has the connections with, and understanding of, less engaged ethnically diverse communities, but not the infrastructure of a national organisation. 

By combining our strengths, we hope to build a joint Water Safety Programme that will create lasting relationships between disengaged communities and the aquatics sector, and highlight the value of our shared goal – to prevent drowning. 

About the Water Safety Programme 

Between 2021 and 2023, the BSA and RNLI will recruit and train six members of staff on fixed-term contracts. We will also offer further opportunities for six apprentices in 2022. The team will be dedicated to influencing water safety education and awareness in African, Caribbean and Asian communities in the UK and Ireland.

This includes working together with RNLI water safety volunteers and staff on things such as education and awareness events, advocacy, local partnerships, research and communications.  

Earlier this year, the BSA held a pilot session, along with the RNLI and other like-minded organisations, to bring local organisations in Hackney together to talk about water safety. The session’s aim was to get the community engaged with water safety and to learn more about the impact we can have when we work together. You can watch a video from the session at the end of this article.

What’s next? 

Recruitment opens on Wednesday 10 November for the first role: Senior Implementation Manager – BSA

This role will report Gareth Morrison, the RNLI's Head of Water Safety, and will deliver against jointly agreed objectives with the BSA. They will lead a team to design and deliver ground-breaking lifesaving interventions and projects, building national and local capacity and capability to manage the programme over a 2-year fixed term contract.  

The BSA and RNLI are jointly leading this recruitment, so interviews will be held with a joint panel from both organisations. 

This role would be suitable for someone who is motivated by new development challenges and wants to influence pioneering interventions, designed to deliver vital water safety education to at risk African, Asian and Caribbean communities.

If you know someone who could be a good candidate for this role, please encourage them to find out more and apply via the RNLI website from 10 November. 

What else is happening as part of our partnership?

The RNLI is supporting the BSA’s research programme into the barriers that prevent people of African, Caribbean and Asian heritage from taking part in aquatics and knowing how to stay safe around water. The findings of this research will be incorporated into the Water Safety Programme in the future. 

We are also working with the BSA on joint communications and skills sharing between our organisations as the partnership develops over the coming months.

To find out more, read about our partnership on the Volunteer Zone, get to know the BSA in this article from Black History Month, or visit the BSA website

You can also get in touch with any questions at [email protected]

*Source: Sport England
**Source: Canal and Rivers Trust.