The UK's first Drowning Prevention Strategy was launched 21st October 2015 at the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) conference in Durham.
Senior leaders from RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents), MCA (Maritime and Coastguard Agency) and the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) met to launch the strategy, discussing how to work together to bring the strategy to public focus. Key to water safety is respect and understanding, both of these are outcomes of activity in and on the water.
Keirron Tastagh, from local adventure sports centre Adventurous Experiences represented the UK Coasteering industry at the conference, in his position as secretary of the National Coasteering Charter (NCC), alongside the Chairperson Jethro Moore, Pembrokeshire).
The NCC is a poignant case study in the National Drowning Prevention Strategy document, describing how an activity industry that had initially caused concern for a national safety organisations, had worked with providers and the RNLI, RoSPA, MCA and other lifesaving organisations to build a national framework of good practice and guidance. The culmination is that members of the NCC are now an established solution to the national drowning prevention strategy. They have the skill-set to deliver the training directly to the community, experiencing and understanding real risk on the UK's coastlines.
The key message summarised at the strategy launch was:
Through increased activity, we will have an impact on health, physical (obesity) conditions, mental health, and drowning prevention.
Dave Walker (RoSPA) and Keirron Tastagh (NCC) at the strategy launch in Durham
Speaking about the event Keirron Tastagh said "What was greatly refreshing to hear is the approach is to get more people in the water, not preventing activity or increasing legislation."
The NCC committee has representatives from every Coasteering region in the UK, (all of whom are current providers) who meet to discuss ideas, incidents and solutions, and then share this considered good practice back out to regions. Regions (such as the Isle of Man) host seminars before and after the peak coasteering season, where all current providers train together and share ideas.
Keirron went onto say "There are situations where Health and Safety has been misinterpreted, resulting in the loss of essential outdoor play by young people. The Isle of Man is well placed to make best use of its excellent opportunities to access water in a natural setting. With so much water around us, it is essential that people learn how to use it, and progressively build the transferable skill of real risk management."
Isle of Man outdoor providers attending their recent regional NCC seminar on the island. (Left to right) John Keggin, Keirron Tastagh, Matthew Read, Tom Bergan, Mike Read, Sarah Hickey, Kieran Stout, Simon Read, lying down Joe Callister