Help and guidance for RNLI volunteers and staff during this time of high media and public interest

As you know, this week the RNLI has featured heavily in national newspapers such as the Sun and the Daily Mail. The articles are mainly focusing on the outcome of the appeal of two crew members at Whitby Lifeboat Station.
Help, support, advice and guidance signpost

Photo: 3D-creation/Shutterstock_404833252

We know that most of you are very used to dealing with members of the public, but over the coming weeks supporters and members of the public may want to talk to you about this and you may encounter more emotion in others than normal, especially if you’re out and about representing the RNLI.

In both of these situations, we stand by our decision and know that we have done the right thing no matter how this is reported in the media. As far as Whitby is concerned, the facts remain the same so there isn’t any new news to share with you following Tuesday’s announcement

However, as this is hot in the media right now some supporters are feeling emotional about the stories that they have read. With this in mind, we want to make sure you feel equipped and supported in case members of the public want to stop and talk to you over the coming days. Here is some additional guidance to help you during this time.

Thank you for your commitment and hard work over these last few weeks. Please continue to support each other over the coming weeks. We are all in this together.


If you want to answer questions from family and friends: You can find the RNLI volunteer and staff Q&A here, most easily accessed on the Volunteer Zone

If you are talking to a member of the public and it gets emotional: Do not feel you have to enter into a conversation with them. If you feel at all uncomfortable, you can always just politely walk away and explain that you don’t want to have a conversation with them. Please do let your volunteer or line manager know if you are worried in any way or if you need any further support.

If you get approached by a journalist or receive a request for an interview: You should always direct them to the RNLI Press Office (phone number: 01202 336789). Please DO NOT talk to them yourself. Be polite but firmly suggest that they should call the Press Office

If you experience people trying to draw you into public discussion on your social media channels: Here is some social media guidance that could help. Please click here to read the guidance

If you are worried or upset by an experience with a member of the public: Please tell your volunteer or line manager. We need to know about any incident with an RNLI volunteer or employee so we can log them and also make sure you are properly supported. Then your manager can work with your HR Advisor to access the wide range of services that we have available for staff and volunteers who need a bit of additional help at times.

If you see a group of people coming together to protest: Remember that people have every right to protest about something if they chose to but a protest needs to be held on public land and should be peaceful. If you see a protest and are concerned about your safety, the safety of others or RNLI property, then you should immediately call the police.

Additional guidance for those responsible for RNLI sites (e.g. shops, museums, lifeboat stations):

  • Please review your risk assessments and building security in the light of the current media interest as soon as possible.
  • When possible, keep protesters or groups of people in public places and outside of RNLI buildings. If you cannot or are concerned for yours or others safety then call the police. 
  • Be respectful of people’s right to protest.
  • You should expect all your actions/conversations in and around any protest to be filmed/recorded by demonstrators and members of the public/media so always be polite and calm. Do not enter into any physical or verbal altercation. 
  • Do not feel like you must defend the RNLI. If you feel uncomfortable then you can always choose to walk away.
  • Branded clothing may attract increased public interest, so if this is not essential for your role then you may consider wearing non-branded clothing over the coming weeks.

Contact numbers: 

During office hours (9-5pm Monday to Friday):

  • Report any concerns or incidents to your line manager
  • Line managers should report any issues to your HR People Advisor
  • All safeguarding concerns must be reported out of hours to the Duty Officer

Out of hours, at weekend or in an emergency:

  • Inform duty officer (DO) on 01202 663166 (x3166)
  • Duty officer will triage and escalate to relevant people.