What We Do
'To safeguard lives in, on and near water'
'To inform and educate everyone in water safety and resuscitation and to increase annually the number of people trained in water rescue.'
RLSS UK - The UK's premier Education and Training Skills organisation for Water Safety, Aquatic Supervision and Drowning Prevention. RLSS UK is the Governing Body for Lifesaving Sport and Lead Industry Body for training lifeguards, setting standards and providing guidance and advice on aquatic safety. To enable these aims to be achieved, the Society's members spend considerable time:
- Promoting water safety education and life support in the community.
- Training lifesavers and lifeguards in the areas of accident prevention, survival, rescue, life support, emergency aftercare and first aid.
- Researching the causes and effects of drowning.
- Developing educational resources and technical expertise.
Download a copy of our Business Plan Summary 2011-2013 by clicking here.
Download the RLSS UK Awards Programmes Leaflet to view the Awards Programmes we offer.
History and Development of Lifesaving
The Royal Life Saving Society was formed in 1891 in an attempt to reduce the annual toll of 5,000 lives lost in drowning accidents in the United Kingdom – by publicising the causes of these accidents, by encouraging everyone to learn to swim and by teaching competent swimmers the methods by which a drowning person might be saved. In 1924, the Society was granted a Royal Charter by King George V; a supplemental Charter was granted by Queen Elizabeth in 1959.
The Royal Life Saving Society, Commonwealth is active in over forty countries worldwide. The Society's Commonwealth Conference is held every four years and is attended by representatives from around the world. Special events and development workshops are held regularly on every continent organised by the Society's volunteer and professional officers.
The Society has major Branches in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. In addition, lifesaving activities are particularly strong in the Far East, India and Africa. Member Branches and Honorary Representatives keep in touch with developments worldwide through the RLSS Commonwealth Secretariat.
Today RLSS is the largest single organisation dedicated to teaching of lifesaving and the prevention of drowning in the United Kingdom and one of the largest in Europe.
Structure of RLSS UK
RLSS UK has a network of administrative, consultative and decision-making bodies responsible for policy, research and development.
The Society's head office, River House is in the village of Broom, south of Birmingham, 2 miles from Alcester and 6 miles from Stratford upon Avon. The staff of approximately 36 is led by a Chief Executive, responsible for managing the Society's affairs and meeting the needs of customers and members across the country and overseas.
The Chief Executive and Senior Managers of RLSS UK report to the Society's Management Board which is responsible to the Annual General Meeting working closely with a number of elected volunteer committees, throughout the year.
These committees focus on specific areas of development of the Society's work in the UK. All committees and officers report to the Management Board which is responsible for governance and deciding policy in accordance with the requirements of its customers and the needs of the business and current legislation.
RLSS UK Management Structure
The Society has 13 Regions covering the UK and Ireland; each Region comprises a number of Branches.
RLSS UK has 47 Branches throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland as well as a number of overseas and British Forces Branches. Each Branch has a Management Committee responsible for the development of the Society's work at local level. Find a Club or Branch
Lifesaving Clubs & Approved Training Centres
2800 training centres and clubs promote lifeguarding and lifesaving, whilst 60 volunteer lifeguard clubs patrol open water locations in and around the UK. These clubs and training centres focus on training lifesaving and lifeguarding skills, competitions and social events.
Promotion of Lifesaving in the UK
RLSS UK promotes its aims in these ways:
RLSS UK provides leadership and specialist advice to voluntary and professional bodies on all aspects of lifesaving, lifeguarding, life support and aquatic accident prevention.
Public Awareness Campaigns
RLSS UK promotes important basic water safety, lifesaving and life support messages through publicity, press releases, competitions and other events.
RLSS UK provides training and award programmes in the areas of water safety, swimming, survival, lifesaving, lifeguarding, life support and aquatic first aid. In addition, the Society runs a training programme for new trainers and assessors which contains a variety of core and specialist units linked to National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ). Courses are available for children and adults, and can be land-based or water based.
A variety of educational resources from handbooks to resuscitation manikins and videos are available from the Society's trading company Lifesavers Direct. All items are displayed in the Society's annual catalogue. Visit the web site on www.lifesaversdirect.co.uk
The RLSS UK undertakes the collation of drowning statistics and commissions research to develop new rescue techniques and equipment. This has depended on developing close relationships with other institutions and organisations.
Members of the RLSS UK represent the Society at a national and international level on a number of specialist development committees including search and rescue, education, drowning prevention, European safety standards sport and development and RLSS UK also undertakes consultancy work in accident investigation relating to pool and beach safety.
RLSS UK membership is open to anyone interested in the Society's activities. Members are entitled to a membership card, personal accident and public liability insurance as well as to receive the Society's magazine 'Lifesavers'. They may also take any of the Society's awards and join in with local events.
RLSS UK holds regular lifesaving and lifeguard competitions in its Branches and Regions. National Championships are held for Lifesaving and still water speed events. In addition, RLSS UK has sent teams in recent years to compete in European, Commonwealth and World lifesaving and lifeguarding competitions.
Special Conferences and Events
RLSS UK hosts a number of major conferences and seminars, which are attended by leading national and international experts in the fields of lifesaving, lifeguarding and life support.
Liaison with Other Organisations
- Amateur Swimming Association
- Association for Physical Education (AfPE)
- British Heart Foundation (BHF)
- Sport & Recreation Alliance (SRA)
- Commonwealth Secretariat
- Department for Health
- Department for Children, Schools and Families (DFCSF)
- Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)
- Skills Active
- The Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (IMSPA)
- Physical Education Association UK (PEA UK)
- Resuscitation Council – United Kingdom
- Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI)
- Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA)
- Sport England
- Surf Lifesaving Association of Great Britain (SLS-GB)
- Swimming Teacher's Association (STA)
- UK Sport
- Emergency Services
In addition, RLSS UK maintains close links with all Commonwealth Branches and members world-wide from its Head Office at River House and through the Commonwealth Secretary.
RLSS UK is a participating and founder member of the International Life Saving Federation (ILS) which is composed of lifesavers and lifeguards from around the world. It promotes development of new techniques and competitions.
The Institute of Qualified Lifeguards
This is the Society's awarding body for vocational qualifications. IQL UK Ltd manages the National Pool Lifeguard Qualification, National Pool Management Qualification and Emergency Response Programme for Pools.
Beach and Open Water qualifications are managed by the Beach and Open Water Programme Manager and comprise; National Beach Lifeguard Qualification, Emergency Response Open Water, Assistant Beach Lifeguard and Lifeguard Trainer Assessors.
The Pool and Beach Lifeguard Qualifications have, since the early 90's, been closely aligned with the national occupational standards for sport and recreation at Level 2 and lifeguard candidates who are successful at independent assessment have been able to use their qualification as evidence of working towards a number of sector specific S/NVQs.
Increased regulation of the development and delivery of vocational qualifications, and the incorporation of our accredited leisure sector qualifications within the Ofqual Register has necessitated the separation of awarding body and training and development roles.
Lifesavers Direct: Generating funds to save lives.
Lifesavers Direct: the online store www.lifesaversdirect.co.uk and mail order catalogue which provides equipment, product and clothing for everyone involved in Lifesaving, Lifeguarding and Emergency Response.
Lifesavers Direct is the trading arm of The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK), the UK's and Ireland's leading drowning prevention and water safety organisation. Buying products from the Lifesavers Direct online shop or catalogue is a double win. You're buying products developed or recommended by the leading expert in drowning prevention AND any profit from your purchase goes straight back into supporting RLSS UK's mission: 'To inform and educate everyone in water safety and resuscitation and to increase progressively the number of people trained in water rescue.' All profits from Lifesavers Direct are covenanted back to the parent charity RLSS UK, to support and further RLSS UK's charitable aims. To protect the Society's brand, protect charitable income and protect you the customer, all products carrying the Society's logo are copyrighted and may not be copied without written permission.