CEO Membership Column – March 2020

This month’s update summarises how we are supporting the sport during these difficult times.

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The last time I wrote to the members of British Rowing, we were in the middle of March and I was telling you that we were monitoring and adhering to the Government’s advice related to coronavirus. Since then you the world around us has changed immeasurably.

I hope you will have seen the advice and guidance we have published for the rowing community on our website and shared across our various social media channels as we tried to keep you informed about how to stay safe within a rowing context. Thank you to everyone for your understanding during this time, for adhering to the advice and for all the positive feedback I and my team have received. We have seen some really innovative approaches from clubs and it is times like this that you feel very privileged to be part of the rowing family.

As I am sure you will appreciate since the crisis took hold we, like you all, have been dealing with the impact of coronavirus, including cancelling and postponing British Rowing run and managed events, assessing the financial impact on our clubs and the organisation, and stabilising the organisation so that our staff can support the rowing community remotely and away from our Headquarters in Hammersmith and our National Training Centre in Caversham.

We know this is a challenging time for rowing clubs and we are very aware that closing for this extended period could cause financial concerns for some clubs. Please do keep in touch with us and let us know how coronavirus is affecting your club by completing the specially setup form. We will do our utmost during this time to keep clubs updated on the support that is available both directly from British Rowing and from external sources.With respect to our direct support for clubs, at its meeting on 25 March, the Board of British Rowing agreed that the organisation’s support of the sport should extend, where necessary and beyond the practical help already being offered to clubs, to use a portion of our reserves to assist those in need. We are now working through the detail and scale of this support and how it will be delivered. We will be announcing those details within the next week.

As many of you will have seen that Sport England has launched a new £20 million Community Emergency Fund:  the details, eligibility criteria and application process of which can be found here. There may be other sources of funding available to your club dependent on your situation, such as support directly from the Government, and we will be signposting these on our website.

You, our members are critical to us and our own sustainability so I hope you will have seen the various new content we are pushing out across our channels, including indoor rowing workouts, education and training webinars and an updated rower development guide. The team have also been working behind the scenes with our insurers to develop tailored advice for rowers and rowing clubs, as well as issuing safeguarding and clean sport advice. We are getting good engagement for these initiatives so do feedback to [email protected] if there is anything you need more of or would like to contribute. We appreciate that you will be waiting, and wanting, to get back on the water soon but in the meantime, we hope this content gives you a bit of your rowing fix to see you through the lock down and remain connected to the rowing family.

I should also let you know that we have had very encouraging discussions with our two major funding partners, Sport England and UK Sport. Both organisations have been brilliant in their understanding of this unprecedented situation and have encouraged a flexible approach to our existing funding and given us financial certainty for the medium term. We are now recasting our budgets with this in mind, taking into account that we will want to support our members to get back on the water as soon as it is safe to and while preparing our national team for a one year delay to Tokyo 2020.

Without getting ahead of ourselves, we have started to shape what a return to rowing might look like. Whilst this still feels some way off, we want to make sure our sport is in the best possible shape so that, once Government advice allows, we are able to get back into our clubs and onto the water as quickly as possible.

Finally, I would like to extend a thank you to the many of our rowing family who are at the frontline of dealing with this global and national crisis. Whether you are helping treat those affected by the virus, ensuring we all have the food we need or one of the many other key roles keeping the country going – thank you from all of us. In the meantime, we can all do our bit by staying home and helping save lives across the country.

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Without our members, we wouldn't be able to provide the guidance, support and emergency funding that we have been able to during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please consider continuing to support our sport by renewing or purchasing your British Rowing membership today.

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