The Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) have announced a new strategic partnership with the Black Swimming Association (BSA).
The BSA, which was founded and launched earlier this year by musician Ed Accura, journalist and ex-swimmer Seren Jones, entrepreneur Danielle Obe and Team GB open water swimmer Alice Dearing, aims to overcome barriers to swimming within the BAME community and drive participation, engagement and inclusion for people from BAME communities in aquatics.
“The BSA is about making swimming accessible and visible to a community of people who culturally don’t swim,” says Danielle. “Regardless of race, gender or culture – I think we can all agree that swimming is an essential life skill,”
The RLSS engaged with the BSA when it was formed to explore how the RLSS could support their mission, to work closely with the black community and national aquatic governing authorities on water safety, lifesaving and drowning prevention measures.
The BSA has been set up as a voice, advocate, and a strategic agent for change, to drive forward participation, inclusion and diversity in aquatics for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people.
With statistics showing that 95% of black adults and 80% of black children in England do not swim, the launch is a welcome addition to the aquatic family.
“We know that our strength lies in working together to understand, overcome and break significant age-long barriers to swimming within black, Asian and minority ethnic communities,” says Ed.
“Only in collaborative partnership can we drive participation, engagement and inclusion, for people from BAME communities in aquatics. That is ultimately why we decided to launch the BSA and were delighted when we were approached by the RLSS.”
At the beginning of the year, the RLSS outlined their purpose ‘to enhance communities, so that everyone can enjoy being in, on or near water, safely – because every life is worth saving’.
“For almost 130 years our Charity has existed to enable everyone to enjoy water, safely; this latest definition of our purpose has helped focus our strategy, with the solid reinforcement of our belief that every life is worth saving,” says RLSS CEO Robert Gofton.
“One of our specific priorities within the new strategy, is the identification of funding to bring vocational lifeguard training into BAME communities, where these opportunities may not ordinarily be visible or accessible. Our partnership with the BSA is an exciting one and will be the catalyst for new initiatives, and more inclusive representation across the leisure sector, as well as enabling us to reach new communities with our water safety advice.”
The BSA team see themselves as a platform for education and making a key skill available to more people.
“We have had one or two situations where people have commented it increases segregation,” says Danielle.
“But one of the great things that has happened since we have launched is that people have contacted us to get involved, not all from BAME communities, so it is about bringing communities together. We have to understand there are issues here, accept them and find ways of resolving them. You can’t deal with an issue you don’t understand. I don’t claim to understand issues for Indian women and swimming, but we could work together to understand and help each other.”
If you would like to find out more or support the BSA visit www.thebsa.co.uk .
Read our feature on the BSA here.
Image (From left to right): Alice Dearing, Danielle Obe, Seren Jones, Ed Accura.