In November 2010 after nearly 12 years of discussion and meetings, over 80 coasteering providers from across the UK made their way from areas including the Isle of Man, the Channel Isles, Scotland, England and Wales to unanimously vote that they be represented nationally. The vote taken was to create the National Coasteering Charter (NCC).
The remit of the NCC is to:
1. Represent Coasteering Providers at National Level
2. Continuously improve Coasteering safety and practices
3. Report, learn and share information from accidents and near misses
4. Sustainably run Coasteering provision for future generations to enjoy the special places that it takes place in
5. Support its members by being a place of Coasteering expertise through a body of peers to go to when needed (e.g. with access issues).
To ensure a minimum level of good practice the NCC has written and agreed three documents as its Industry Standards. The three documents are written around the topics of:
1. Best Practice Safety Guidance for Coasteering Providers
2. Base level Skills and Competencies for Coasteering Guides
3. How to sustainably run Coasteering for future generations
This body has been supported and is recognised by AALS, ROSPA, the MCA and the RNLI to name but a few. The documentation can be found currently on the NWSF website, although it is about to be moved to the NCC’s own website at www.hse.gov.uk.
Since November 2010, a Constitution has been written that is to be voted in at the next National meeting in November 2013, and a website has been designed and is about to be made public (maybe by the time you read this article the website will be up and running – type into Google ‘National Coasteering Charter’).
Why is the NCC important?
Most coasteering providers across the UK aim to deliver a safe, enjoyable and sustainable experience for their clients. Unfortunately this activity is perceived to be a high risk activity, and is easily sensationalised by the media, especially when linked with ‘tombstoning’ in the wrong context.
Also unfortunately, there are a growing number of companies that are branching out into delivering Coasteering that have not necessarily had the training or gained the experience that they should have before taking clients out – this has a huge potential to harm the public perception of Coasteering if/when something goes wrong.
This is why the documentation was written, so that it can support minimum levels of competence to ensure that Coasteering is delivered in a safe and correct manner. For example, the advice in the documentation not to let clients cliff jump above the height of 10m, and not to let them jump anywhere near this height until they have been seen to jump well at a much lower level initially.
How can I get training to run Coasteering or be a Coasteering Guide?
As well as ‘in house’ training that delivers site specific guide training, there is currently one course running in the UK that trains Coasteering Guides – it is run through the British Rock and Water Association (BRAWA). To find out more about BRAWA courses, please contact the Chair, Andy Spink, also of Hebridean Pursuits, at Andyspink01@aol.com.
By being an NCC member, Coasteering Providers are showing that they work to the minimum level of Coasteering provision as written in the documentation to ensure a safe, enjoyable and sustainable level of Coasteering experience. This level is the level that AIM has confidence in, as it is recognised by both the internal Coasteering provider community, and by external bodies such as AALS.
By John-Paul Eatock
Chair of the National Coasteering Charter
With thanks and credit to Andy Spink of Hebridean Pursuits www.hebrideanpursuits.co.uk