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Volunteer Code of Conduct Policy

Lifeboats News Release

Copy of RNLI code of conduct policy

1. Purpose

To provide a Code of Conduct which must be followed wherever possible by the RNLI and its volunteers.  It is not an exhaustive list, but is aimed at providing a statement of hopes and expectations from both volunteers and the RNLI.

2. Scope

2.1 Who does this policy apply to?

All persons engaged in volunteering for the RNLI.

2.2. Who uses this policy?

Any staff or volunteers who manage other volunteers. 

2.3 Policies linked to this policy

Whilst the principles of this policy apply to all RNLI volunteers, a more detailed version applies to all operational volunteers at lifeboat stations (Volunteer Code of Conduct for Operational Volunteers at Lifeboat Stations).

This policy should be read in conjunction with the Regulations of the RNLI and other supplementary publications.

3. Code of Conduct

At the heart of our policies is the ‘Volunteer Commitment’, which is a statement of hopes and expectations owed both ways.  This statement outlines the spirit in which the RNLI and volunteers will act together to achieve the RNLI’s objectives.

This commitment applies equally to our lifeboat crews, volunteer lifeguards, fundraising and communication volunteers and Sea Safety volunteers.

The Volunteer Commitment can be found in Appendix 1

Staff have their own detailed and separate Code of Conduct Policy.

Volunteers must

• Have read and be familiar with the content of the Volunteer Welcome leaflet and be aware of the Volunteer Commitment.

• Carry out their volunteer role activities with due care and diligence.

• Follow all reasonable requests by staff who support and manage their volunteer role activities.

• Act within the law.

• Maintain the trust and confidence and uphold the reputation of the RNLI at all times.

• Be aware of health and safety notices and their meaning, seeking clarification if necessary.

• Immediately report all injuries and accidents occurring whilst volunteering for the RNLI.

• Report any loss or damage to personal or RNLI property to their supporting staff.

• Wear any protective clothing/equipment provided to them for their volunteer role and comply with any health and safety rules in force.

• Respect, maintain and care for any property belonging to or paid for by the RNLI.

• Return all property belonging to the RNLI on or before the last date of their volunteering.

• Comply with the RNLI’s no smoking policy when on RNLI owned property.

• Only bring pets or children to the volunteer activities when specifically authorised by the support member of staff.

• Be courteous towards others.

Volunteers must not

• Act outside the spirit of the Volunteer Commitment.

• Participate in any form of inappropriate behaviour or activity when volunteering or act in a any way that brings the RNLI into disrepute.

• Bully, harass or unlawfully discriminate against anyone.

• Falsify records, expenses or defraud or attempt to defraud the RNLI in any manner.

• Carry out volunteer duties when in an unfit state due to the influence of alcohol, or other drugs or substances.

• Be in possession of firearms or any offensive weapon whilst undertaking volunteer activities.

• Carry out private trading on RNLI premises or use the RNLI ‘brand’ or equipment to promote private trading.

4. Serious Breach

Serious breaches of the Code of Conduct and the Volunteer Commitment will be handled using the Volunteer Problem Solving policy.

5. Responsibility

All staff and volunteers referred to within the scope of this policy are required to be familiar with the terms of this policy.

Individual volunteers, staff members and managers are required to keep within the spirit and intent of the policy, as far as possible in their own area.  Any queries on the application or interpretation of this policy must be discussed first with the supporting staff member or the senior responsible manager in the area concerned. 

5.1 Who can change or adapt this policy?

The HR department has the responsibility for ensuring the maintenance, regular review and updating of this policy.  Revisions, amendments or alterations to the policy and supporting appendices can only be implemented following consideration and approval by the HR management team.

Signed _____________________________________

Name (Print) ________________________________


Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 or by email.


The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland