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What is Scottish Rowing doing to promote diversity and inclusion?

Posted: 11 June 2020

Following recent anti-racist campaigns online and protests across the UK we have been asked by some of our clubs what Scottish Rowing is doing to promote diversity and inclusion in our sport and felt it was important to answer this question and share the response with all our members.

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Rowing as a sport is often seen as exclusive or elitist and Scottish Rowing is working in a number of ways to promote inclusion and diversity in the sport.  We have made progress in some areas, including increasing female representation on our Board and on our Committees but there is still a lot more to do.  We will continue to challenge ourselves to ensure that diversity remains a key element within our overall strategy to increase participation. Our last survey conducted earlier this year highlighted the under-representation of people with disabilities, from lower income groups and from the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities: for example, BAME communities make up 4% of the Scottish population but only 1.7% of rowing club membership. We are committed to continuing to remove barriers to access and to encourage wide-spread participation in the sport that we love.

As an organisation, Scottish Rowing does not tolerate racism or other forms of discrimination as set out in the Scottish Rowing equality policy.  It is a condition of membership that all clubs adopt and abide by this policy. 

We are currently working towards the intermediate level of the Equality Standard for Sport and have an Equality Action Plan to support this work.  Included in this action plan are the programmes that we invest in and run which are aimed at removing barriers to rowing and making the sport more accessible.

The Scottish Rowing Schools Indoor League provides a great way to take rowing into all schools across Scotland.   It provides opportunities for young people from all backgrounds and abilities to experience the sport, removing many of the barriers to participation such as the need to travel, distance from a club and cost. The league is free for schools to enter.  In 2019 over 2000 young people from across the country took part. 

The Firhill Youth Project and Community Sports Hub (Glasgow) project is jointly funded by Scottish Rowing and Glasgow Sport with the aim of introducing young people who would not typically access the sport to rowing, other water sports and lifestyle activities and opportunities.  The project’s vision is “…to positively impact the lives of the local North Glasgow community. Based at the Firhill Basin, next to the Partick Thistle Football Club Stadium, we will provide sustainable, affordable and accessible opportunities for young people P7+ to participate in a wide range of sport and educational activities (including rowing and kayaking)”.

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Using the Firhill model as a template, we are also working with a number of partners in Edinburgh to set up a similar project based at the Bridge8 Hub in Wester Hailes in Edinburgh.

In 2019, Scottish Rowing set up a programme based at the Scottish Rowing Centre at Strathclyde Park to provide opportunities for pupils with additional support needs at five local ASN schools to take part on indoor and on water rowing activities.

Finally, we recognise the importance of hearing from and consulting with under-represented voices in our sport to help us identify and remove the barriers they face.  In 2019 we held the first development forum bringing together rowing clubs and bodies which promote inclusion across a number of under-represented sections of the community.  We will be holding another development forum meeting in the second half of July (date to follow) and would encourage clubs to get involved.

As the governing body for rowing we take responsibility for our role in promoting, supporting and facilitating inclusion and diversity.  However countering racism and other forms of discrimination isn’t something that can be done solely at a national level.  To make a real difference needs everyone to take a degree of ownership, to look around and see what can be done and to take action locally. We have been incredibly heartened by stories of anti-discrimination activity in our clubs and by members.  At this time when discrimination and the need for inclusion is very much in the spotlight we invite you to share your thoughts with us on what you are doing, or planning to do, as a club, rower, coach or volunteer to promote equality and inclusion within your club and to make rowing a genuine sport for all.

We would love to share your stories. Please contact erin.wyness@scottish-rowing.org.uk