Thousands of members have been working tirelessly through lockdown to keep their clubs going and to support their members the best they can. As volunteering in person is now on the horizon, here are some thoughts and advice, from BSAC and Sport England, on how to do that safely.
With the progressive return to diving and now a return to swimming pools in England, club life will begin to head back towards some sense of ‘normality’, albeit in slow cautious steps. With a return to club life, naturally comes a return to (non-virtual) volunteering. For that, it’s important to plan ahead, be sensitive to others’ needs and comfort, and support all members as best we can.
Volunteering will inevitably be different than it was before: who volunteers, what tasks and roles they fulfil, and the amount of time people are able to provide are all in flux. There may also be new roles created in order to help keep members safe at this time. Balancing the new needs of the club with those of the volunteers will require a flexible approach, and the ability and willingness to adapt.
Create an action plan
Before returning to club activity, it is worth getting together (virtually) with your volunteers and creating an action plan specific to your club and the facilities you use. This includes identifying and managing the risks you face within your specific environments. Not only is this worthwhile for safety and organisational purposes, but this will also help alleviate some anxiety that your members and volunteers may have about returning to the club.
You can download Sport England’s action plan toolkit here.
When making these plans, consider evaluating the level of support you may need from your volunteers. It may be useful to think about what roles and tasks volunteers could do safely to support the needs of members, while also remembering that some volunteers may not be comfortable returning to activity just yet. This could be for a whole range of reasons, including their own anxieties, or their desire to shield themselves or at-risk members of their family.
Be open and supportive
It is vital that you speak with your volunteers about their needs when returning to club activity. While you may be comfortable meeting outside for socially-distanced diving or helping out at pool nights, that doesn’t mean the rest of your team are. Understand how they are feeling and why in order to discuss what they are comfortable doing at this time.
Lockdown has affected everyone in a variety of different ways and it is important, now more than ever, that we support each other without judgement, nor pressure. Providing your members and volunteers with a safe space to express their concerns and hesitancy about returning to in-person activity is key.
BSAC has put together extensive guidance on returning to diving including returning to swimming pools, and all guidance emphasises the importance of following the current guidance of the devolved government in your location within the UK.
Volunteers should be well versed in BSAC’s Safe Return to Diving guidance for the delivery of activities and the use of facilities, places and spaces so they can make informed decisions.
Resources from Sport England's Club Matters:
- Reopening toolkit for clubs and organisations
This resource includes info on how clubs can plan their return to sport, with advice on what they need to think about across different areas such as re-opening their facility and protecting their people.
- Understanding your people
Covering the different ways clubs can gather the views of their people in relation to the coronavirus and how it might have impacted their ability/willingness to return to sport, this guide has top tips for how organisations can use that insight.
- Promoting social distancing at your facility
This resource covers the different practices and considerations clubs/organisations may need to introduce so that social distancing can be implemented in line with current Government advice.
- Check out the Club Matters website for further advice on reopening
BSAC has released extensive guidance to help members and the wider diving community prepare for a safe return to the water, and normal club diving activity.