2019 has brought an exciting and challenging year for SwimTayka, and they say the first two years of any organisation is the make or break time. As a Charity, we have made it through the first two years, and this is thanks to our trustees pulling together and working as a strong team.
The year started with our Peruvian project running, intending to work towards a more sustainable project by getting more organisations involved. The project attracted some 36 children to the lessons, and with local swimming teachers taking the classes enabled the programme to be supported by local volunteers.
Meanwhile, in Brazil, our partner organisation ETIV-do-Brasil in Itacaré wanted to expand out the project to reach out to more children. As a result, they taught over double the number of children to 80. We are gaining awareness from the local firefighters who were getting involved and supporting the project. We also managed to get a donation of equipment from Zoggs which was shipped to Brazil by Jason Aspinall, a British Airways stewardship.
Our very own Lorraine Mackie volunteered for the Bahama’s project in Bimini, which was being run by SwimTayka US, which for the children was a successful project. You can read more about it here:
We have been making inquiries about supporting local vulnerable children within England. We approached Julian House Foundation, and we now have their support, agreeing that a swimming programme for vulnerable children would be a great idea and increase the social interaction their overall plans. We are in the process now in looking at running a pilot project in the up and coming year.
We were approached by Love the Oceans in January to see about supporting their swimming programme in Mozambique, and we agreed that 2020 would be the time to support them fully. We did manage to help them in 2019, with a very kind donation of equipment from Zoggs.
Towards the end of the year saw the World Conference on Drowning prevention in Durban, South Africa, we managed to secure a banner poster for the conference, which gave us great exposure for our cause and connected us to Swimdo who we are fully supporting in Bali for 2020.
The general theme of the conference was to make more awareness of what other people were doing. It was a time for the World Health Organisation along with the RNLI to explain how they are working together to create a UN resolution around drowning prevention. A full report can be found on our website:
This year also brought the separation of SwimTayka US, who despite their best efforts were unable to support the Bahamas programme themselves and we had to assist in them finding volunteers and helping their lack of funding for the project. The lack of controls that were put in place in the US project caused a big rift in the two organisations, and as a result on 5th December 2019 SwimTayka in the UK severed the relationship with the US. The US is rebranding and changing their name to Water Strong, and I wish them every success in their way forwards.
As a charity, the main aim is to support our two causes; to do this, we need financial support and stability. The monetary income was gained from running the English Channel Relay team, which successfully crossed the English Channel on 4th August in a time of 15 hours and 7 minutes, a massive well done to the five swimmers who can now say they are English Channel Swimmers.
We have had support from Zoggs, CAT Solutions, Indigo Designs, Waterland Outdoor Pursuits, and COWS this year and are very grateful for their continued support.
Moving forwards into 2020 brings more challenges around governance and management of the organisation, and we need to start to grow with the addition of more people, from trustees to non-executives around the operational side of the charity. We have over 300 swimming teachers showing an interest in our project, and we need to support them and to get them converted into actual volunteers so as they can go to our programmes and support the very children we want to teach. To do this we need more people on the operational side of the organisation.
I’m very excited with the prospect of SwimTayka growing in 2020, and the work of the trustees, Jody, Dale and Lorraine, will make this charity a force to support free swimming lessons and environmental education to underprivileged children around the world.