In last February's edition of LIFE LINE we reported on the very successful pilot of the IMRF European Region's Lifeboat Crew Exchange Programme. "It was a fabulous week with many impressions and lots of new friends...." "What an amazing and fulfilling experience...!" These were typical comments from those who took part.
Now we are delighted to announce that the continuing programme has won funding from the European Union. Linde Jelsma, of the Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution (KNRM), and the exchange project coordinator, reports that "the Leonardo Da Vinci fund gave us 94 out of 100 points – which means that all nine participating countries will be funded from a total of €141,500, spread over 2 years. We are all very excited and happy!"
The Leonardo da Vinci Fund is a European Community programme which supports national training strategies by funding a range of transnational partnership projects aimed at improving quality, fostering innovation and promoting the European dimension in vocational training.
Participating organisations had to pay their own costs during the pilot, but Linde's hard work (and successful form-filling by the applicants!) means that this year the exchange should be almost cost-free. The aims are to share experience and to improve capabilities. The countries involved are the Netherlands, Germany, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, and the UK. Two coxswains from Canada and one from New Zea-land are also hoping to join in. And there's a rumour that the IMRF's Bruce Reid will get his feet wet too!
As well as the wonderful experience and the lasting friendships that resulted, last year's participants noted that the programme made them feel valued within their own organisations, and that the exchange was a great learning curve. Crews could see how others have different methods of doing things, which opened their eyes to new possibilities. And managers in the participating organisations said what a pleasure it was to be able to give something so valuable back to the volunteer crews who themselves give so much to SAR.