News Bulletin - August 2020
This is an update on what is happening at the Westminster Boating Base.
You will be aware that the Base had to close in March due to the restrictions of the Covid19 pandemic. It took a few days of staff and volunteers’ time to get all the boats off the water and cram them in the workshop, the yard, on the bridge and on the pontoon. It all looks a bit forlorn and just longs for re-opening and the vitality and excitement of resuming watersports. It cannot come too soon.
We do want to re-open but social distancing of even 1 metre makes that impossible for sailing and kayaking. We need to get close to people in a dinghy and physical support is often required for our kayakers. There is also the problem of compliance when people use the showers and changing rooms. We are not alone. Both the Royal Yachting Association and the British Canoeing advise us to remain closed in these circumstances.
We are looking at the possibility of running some adult powerboat courses to clear the backlog of those that have already booked and paid for the training.
We are working on the actions and resources needed to re-open. When we do, we will have revised our operating procedures, undertaken risk assessments, be implementing cleaning regimes and tracking attendees. Preliminary work on this is in hand but keeping up with the changes in government guidelines is challenging.
Rod, Adam and Pippa are on furlough. Without our professional staff the base is being run by the Trustees supported by several very generous volunteers. There is quite a lot to do. The bills keep coming in and need to be paid, the staff need paying, claims to government and the Westminster City Council need to be made and of course we need to look after the fabric of the building. We had a minor crisis the other day when the ivy on half the north wall fell off leaving ugly dirty cladding on display. The small mountain of ivy has been cleared by volunteers and the area tidied up. We now need to decide how best to improve the appearance especially as a good look is essential to persuade those wishing to hire the facilities to have their special event at the Base.
While closed we are deprived of our income from event hire and from paid for courses. We have expenses and no income. As a result, we have mounted a major fund raising effort. To date we have had a successful “Save the Base” crowd fund that raised £20,000. Thank you very much if you contributed. There have been individual efforts ranging from sponsored haircuts, sponsored birthdays, participation in the “2.6 Challenge” alternative to the London marathon, and planned sponsored runs. All brilliant.
An appeal leaflet was produced and Upperdecker volunteers distributed 2,500 of them to letter boxes in streets near the Base and to riverside properties over the water. We have had a positive response and seen how supportive our local community has been at our time of crisis. We have been delighted by the generosity of a few people who have made substantial individual donations.
We need to raise a total of £200,000 to see us through to the end of the financial year. We are well on our way thanks to government grants and philanthropic organisations quickly providing emergency funding for distressed charities and communities. We have completed many applications and been largely successful for funds to cover the furlough period. The big challenge is to cover the cost of re-opening and of salaries when the staff return and before we can get revenue from event hire and paid for courses. If you are feeling generous please don’t hesitate to visit our website and press the “Donate” button. (Please complete the Gift Aid form too.)
We are longing to see the schools, children, adults and Upperdeckers back at the Base and on the water. We will make that happen as soon as we possibly can. When we do, it will be as a result of all the help that we have had from volunteers, the community and donors. We are enormously grateful.
4 August 2020