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'Positive and powerful' Ripple Effect project launched by Swim England

A new ‘positive’ and ‘powerful’ project to increase inclusion and accessibility across Swim England’s volunteering structure has been launched following a successful application process.

The Ripple Effect will aim to break down barriers for individuals who want to become volunteers and encourage them to get involved in aquatic sports.

The funding sets up a new partnership with Spirit of 2012, the legacy funder established following the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The project will have two defined phases, with the first focusing on existing resources and adapting these to increase accessibility.

It will see Swim England working closely with national disability sporting organisations (NDSOs) to secure their direct input in to this work, ensuring the accessibility is developed by those who face barriers. 

Whilst Swim England has always worked collaboratively with NDSOs, this will be the first occasion this work will focus on volunteer engagement rather than a sport participant engagement.

The second phase will be more operational and, from September 2022, a small cohort of disabled volunteers will be recruited to join Swim England and progress through the volunteering pathway. 

The vision presented to Spirit of 2012 focused on having disabled volunteers as part of the volunteer workforce at national events. 

To achieve this, all levels of the pathway will need to be involved and the volunteers supported locally. 

This element of the project will identify accessibility barriers for the volunteers but will also present an opportunity to work with abled volunteers and challenge some misconceptions around disability.

The projects will be carried out over a 24-month period and will be supported by a dedicated project officer, a post currently under recruitment.

‘Get over, go around or take down those barriers’

Claire Coleman, head of development at Swim England, said: “We are thrilled to have been awarded this funding by Spirit of 2012 as it enables us to carry out a project that will hopefully bring positive and powerful change.

“Spirit of 2012 has a strong interest in aquatics sports and together we believe we can achieve social change with this incubation funding.

“Over time, we plan to identify the barriers that may exist for people who want to become volunteers but feel as though it’s not a path that is open to them.

“Then it simply becomes about how we get over, go around or take down those barriers – which is at the heart of this project.”

Lisa Whyte, Swim England’s volunteer manager, said: “This is a really important piece of work that we are excited to get started on.

“Not only will this help shape a better environment within our current volunteering structure, but it also gives us the opportunity to carry on implementing this change moving forwards.

“By 2025, we would hope to have used this seed funding to have brought a further 500 disabled people into a relationship with our volunteering pathway.”

Spirit of 2012 board member, Susie Rodgers MBE, added: “We are looking forward to working with Swim England and being able to combine the insights from The Ripple Effect with other research funded by us to look into inclusive volunteering.

“In this year of major events, there will be plenty of volunteering opportunities – we must ensure that we’re doing what we can to reduce barriers for disabled people.”

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