Future leaders

Since 2012 we’ve been working with the future leaders of lifesaving organisations worldwide. We’re helping them develop their organisations to save more lives from drowning globally.

The Future Leaders in Lifesaving course is the only one of its kind, designed and delivered by the RNLI specifically to train and develop lifesavers in countries where drowning is a major cause of death. 

We know that we can’t solve the issue of global drowning alone, but courses like this can equip participants with essential skills to take back to their own countries, to build and manage more effective lifesaving services.

A group photo of the 2013 Future Leaders in Lifesaving at the RNLI’s UK headquarters

Photo: RNLI / Nathan Williams

The course is split into three core areas: Operations, Leadership and Aquatic Survival. The operations and leadership phases cover everything from hands-on lifesaving skills, setting up a lifeguard service and training new recruits, to strategies for building and sustaining a lifesaving service, and how to manage people.

Candidates on the Future Leaders in Lifesaving course learn how to implement the Aquatic Survival programme back in their home countries, to help ensure the safety of thousands of children around water.

Over 2 weeks in November 2015, 28 trainees from 11 countries across the Asia-Pacific and African Region – including Bangladesh, Fiji, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Mauritius and Kenya – attended the Future Leaders course, where they learnt from five RNLI trainers how to set up, develop and lead lifesaving services in their respective countries.

In 2016, candidates also had the opportunity to attend the World Conference on Drowning Prevention prior to the course, which was also held in Penang. This proved a great opportunity for them to network and build contacts with other like-minded people and organisations from the drowning prevention community.

A group photo of the 2015 Future Leaders in Lifesaving in Penang, Malaysia

All of the candidates took part in the RNLI’s Trainer/Assessor course, which provided them with skills that they can use to develop training methods in their own organisations. The course has the potential to make a huge impact in the Asia-Pacific and African regions. It taught a group of very proactive candidates everything they needed to know to lay the foundations of a strong and effective lifesaving service.

Over 2 weeks in September 2014, 31 trainees from 13 countries across Africa – including Botswana, Cameroon, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mauritius, Mozambique, Sudan, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo and Uganda - attended the Future Leaders course, learning from nine RNLI trainers how to run lifesaving services in their home countries.

Africa has the world’s highest continental drowning rate, largely due to limited lifesaving services and swimming skills, and a high exposure to open water. The candidates met with the united aim of changing this story.

At the end of the course, the 31 lifesavers were energised with new ideas, friends and knowledge and had already begun putting what they'd learned into practice. A group of the east African candidates decided to form an East African Lifesaving Forum and had their first meeting during the course. And another candidate used his newfound knowledge to write a press release outlining his organisation's participation in the course.

Through the passion and commitment of these people, communities will be safer and more lives will be saved.

In July 2013, 14 candidates from 7 countries attended a 2-week course at RNLI College in Poole. The candidates came from across Africa and the Asia-Pacific regions, including Bangladesh, Kenya, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Hong Kong and Singapore.

You can see how one candidate, Job Kania from Kenya, got on in the video diary he kept throughout the fortnight:

In August 2012, 14 candidates from 8 countries came to England to take part in the first ever Future Leaders in Lifesaving course at RNLI College in Poole.

The course equipped the lifesavers with the skills and knowledge to develop their own lifesaving organisations in their home countries.

We followed some of the candidates in this short film.