The RNLI is the charity that saves lives at sea. Powered primarily by kind donations, our search and rescue service has been saving lives for nearly 200 years. Here you can find out more about who we are, what we do and how with your support, we can move closer to a world where no one drowns.


Who are the RNLI?

We are a charity founded upon and driven by our values of selflessness, courage, dependability and trustworthiness, with volunteers at our heart. Values shared by generations of supporters like you who have powered our lifesaving work through your kindness and generosity for almost 200 years.

Volunteers make up 95% of our organisation – ordinary people doing extraordinary things – supported by expert staff, all working together to help communities at home and abroad save lives.

What is the RNLI?

With our wealth of experience and expertise, we are proud to be a world-leading modern emergency service, separate from the coastguard and independent from government.

What does the RNLI do?

Every day of every year, people of all backgrounds get into danger in the water. It’s a problem that we’re here to tackle.

Today, with your support, we are working harder than ever to end preventable drowning. In addition to our 24/7 search and rescue lifeboat service, we operate a seasonal lifeguard service. Every year, our volunteer lifeboat crews and lifeguards help and rescue thousands of people and have saved over 143,000 lives since 1824. Countless more lives are saved through our youth education and water safety work.

In an ideal world, no one would suffer the devastating loss of a loved one to drowning. We’d reach everyone with our water safety advice. If anyone got into trouble, they’d know what to do until help arrived. And our lifesavers would always have everything they need to reach them in time and save lives.

With you by our side, we can move closer to this world.


Equality, diversity and inclusion

Whoever we are and wherever we’re from, we stand together as one crew.

How we’re working to better serve our people 

Everyone is welcome at the RNLI. We believe that our volunteers and staff should be empowered to thrive in their roles and give back to their communities without experiencing exclusion, disadvantage or discrimination.

These are some of the ways we’re working to ensure equality, diversity and inclusion at the RNLI:

  • Our pledge: We are one crew. We work and volunteer together with passion, talent and kindness – whoever we are and wherever we’re from. Our one crew pledge (PDF 1.6MB) underpins how we work together with our communities. This statement outlines the spirit in which the RNLI, our volunteers and staff will act to achieve our lifesaving goals.
  • Volunteer Commitment: Our charity is made up of 95% volunteers – ordinary people, doing extraordinary things! At the heart of our volunteer ethos is the Volunteer Commitment, which is a statement of the hopes and expectations between the RNLI and volunteers.
  • People networks: People networks are groups from across the RNLI who are committed to diversity, equality and inclusion. We have four active people networks here – the Disability Network, Race Equality Network, Harbour Network (LGBT+ network – lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans) and the Young Professional Network. They help us to identify what we already do well and influence our charity to act when change is needed. Staff and volunteers can find out more and connect with the networks through our intranet.
  • Harbour accreditations: Brighton Lifeboat Station became the first Harbour-accredited station within the RNLI in 2019. To achieve a Harbour accreditation, our lifeboat stations must meet criteria that demonstrate they provide a welcoming and supportive environment for all volunteers, staff, visitors and casualties – one that is fully inclusive of LGBT+ people.
  • Action and leadership groups: Action and leadership groups exist to drive change across our charity. They are made up of volunteers, staff, trustees and members of our Executive Team, and represent the voices of volunteers and staff to our chair, council and trustees. We currently have two groups, the I&D Leadership Group and the Racism, Discrimination & Diversity Action Team.
  • Flexible working: Our flexible working and volunteering options help everyone to fulfil their role at the RNLI, wherever they’re based and whatever responsibilities they need to work around. Flexible working options can also help parents return to work or volunteering, help people with variable health conditions stay in work and help carers balance their responsibilities.
  • Gender pay gap reporting: As an organisation that employs over 250 people in Great Britain, the RNLI is legally required to publish its gender pay gap figures. You can view our Gender Pay Gap reports from 2017 onwards on our website.

We also work with existing charities and organisations to help us improve equality, inclusion and diversity at the RNLI.

We are recognised as a Stonewall Diversity Champion and are also part of the UK Government’s Disability Confident Scheme.

This is our watch

Our Watch is the RNLI’s strategic intent for 2020–2024. Within it, there are six outcomes that we’re working towards to ensure our charity can continue saving lives for another 200 years, and help achieve our vision to save every one in the UK, Ireland and internationally.

We want to retain and recruit the best people who’ll be able to bring a diverse range of perspectives and skills to their roles, and truly represent our communities.

As part of the strategy outlined in Our Watch, we will:

  • Attract more volunteers and staff from a variety of backgrounds.
  • Engage with new audiences and inspire our existing supporters to raise awareness of water safety in the UK, Ireland and internationally.
  • Work with partners to understand and prepare for the lifesaving challenges of the future.
  • Reach out to younger generations to ensure our future is sustainable and secure.
How do we measure our progress? 

The RNLI measures progress against our outcomes in our Annual Reports and Accounts, which are published on our website

Our policies

We respect people’s views, interests and uniqueness. We do not tolerate disrespectful behaviour towards each other, our supporters, or members of the public.

Our lifesaving work is underpinned by equality legislation and RNLI policy. We take pride in our values, and will continue working to make our charity a place that every RNLI volunteer, staff member and supporter can take pride in.


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