Swim England

A nation swimming

Will hopes his experiences helps more people with learning disability to volunteer

To mark National Volunteers week, we have spoken to some of our volunteers about their journey and route into aquatics. Here, Will Browning shares his experience of being one of the first volunteers to be a part of Swim England’s Ripple Effect project.

Will Browning hopes that his experiences of being part of Swim England’s Ripple Effect project will help inspire others with learning disability to volunteer.

The project aims to break down barriers for disabled individuals who want to become volunteers and encourages them to get involved in aquatics.

It’s now in its second phase with Will being one of a cohort of disabled volunteers that are progressing through Swim England’s volunteering pathway.

Will joined the scheme thanks to Special Olympics GB who are one of a number of National Disability Sporting Organisations that are supporting the project.

He’s been volunteering at his local swimming pool once a week for some time now but his involvement in the project has allowed him to take Swim England’s Swimming Lesson Helper course so he can help out on poolside.

And as someone with learning disability Will hopes that his story inspires others with learning disability to follow in his footsteps.

He said: “I wanted to get some qualifications so I can use my voice to help more people like me to take these courses.

“I would like to be an assistant swim coach or teacher and work at a swimming pool or sports centre.

“I want to learn more and do more volunteering too. I want to use my voice to support Swim England to help people like me get involved more.”

“It will help me in the future”

Initially, Will tried a timekeeping course but found that it didn’t suit him and that it was difficult for him to understand due to his learning disability.

He spoke with Nicola Hughes, Swim England Ripple Effect Project Officer, and with his passion for wanting to be involved in helping people to learn to swim she gave him the opportunity to sign up for the Swimming Lesson Helper Course which was perfect for supporting his future goals.

“The team helped me choose the course that was good for me. I said I wanted to help at swimming lessons and the course will help me with what I want to do in the future.

“I enjoyed the course. I liked all the videos, pictures and quizzes and my sister helped me through it.

“I haven’t been able to do Swim England courses before. I found the test at the end of the timekeepers course too hard and some of the words in the assistant’s course were tricky, but my sister helped me understand it.

“Thank you to Nicola for being so helpful to both me and my family.”

Will is keen to encourage more people to volunteer in aquatics.

“Volunteers are very important. I go to swimming galas with volunteers, they help lots of people and make sure everyone can join in and have fun.

“The project has been really fun and good for my future. Don’t be scared to get involved and to ask for help if you need it.”

You can find out more about Swim England’s Ripple Effect project here