|A message from our CEO Fergus Feeney to our Swim Wales membership community Re 2021/22 membership renewal and income.|
15 February 2021
Dear member clubs, club members and individual members of Swim Wales,
Membership fees and renewals are always a key focus for us at this time of year. This year in particular, there is a strong recognition by everyone at Swim Wales that people have had a very difficult year and many members may find themselves in a very challenging position as a result of the pandemic’s impact on the economy.
By the time Wales comes out of lockdown and our pools re-open in the spring (current estimate is April) our member clubs and individual club members will have seen approx. 37 weeks (70%) of the membership year out of water. I understand that many of our members feel that they have not had value for money in 2020 as due to government restrictions pool training has been sporadic (or in a few cases non-existent) and events have not been able to take place.
I have had several questions about this over the last few weeks from member clubs and individual club members. The main ones are;Why should I pay my fees this year?Why is Swim Wales not deferring its membership fees in 2021?Can member clubs and their club members have a fee/payment holiday until swimming competitions return?Importance of Membership Fees
As a not-for-profit organisation, Swim Wales is heavily reliant on the income it receives from membership fees to help fund our work. Membership income has been, and will remain, critical to enable your National Governing Body to continue to support all aquatic sports in Wales.
I believe that together we have done an outstanding job this year engaging with our clubs, their club members and supporting club committee members and volunteers. 2020 membership fees have helped Swim Wales to fund the support work we have given to clubs throughout this pandemic. This includes providing 12 months of training material, online training support, technical advice, safe protocols and guidance and 100+ Zoom engagement calls.
Membership fees also fund the critical work that our development teams do across Wales with industry partners such as Local Authorities, Sport Wales and Welsh Government. This sometimes unseen work includes science support, safeguarding support, collecting data and insight and highlighting wider issues that our aquatic activities and sports face. Most notably, the detailed guidance that we produced for 11 user groups which supported the reopening of swimming pools following the first lockdown.
This revenue has also enabled myself and the team to successfully push for a significant part of the £260 million allocated to Local Authorities in Wales to go towards leisure centres. Keeping these facilities in existence will ultimately help safeguard the future of pools up and down the country used by our affiliated clubs. In addition to this it has made sure that NGB staff were fully operational to support our 81 affiliated member clubs in applying for grant funding, including Sport Wales and Swimathon, resulting in over £200,000 going directly to our clubs in grant funding last year.
More importantly, it also funds insurance. This has remained in place throughout this period for all registered clubs and their members and covers virtual and land training sessions as well as in-pool activities (when water based activity has been permitted). We are required to pay the insurance premium in April to ensure all our clubs and members remain covered and this is a very substantial item of expenditure.
I am delighted to see the vaccination programme across Wales going very well. We have light at the end of the tunnel and we can see a return to training and competitive events in the spring. In between lockdowns, our Super Series virtual events proved to be a huge success. Your membership fees helped fund the cost of planning, resourcing and staging these events as well as planning for pilot regional and national events in 2021. Our new programme of events, which will be launched on our February club Zoom call, is better than ever before. Super Series II will return this spring when pools are allowed to reopen.
As I write, we find ourselves focussed once again on pushing for pools to be reopened as soon as it is safe to do so and for the resumption of club activities for all members. We are incredibly mindful of the impact Covid-19 continues to have on many people up and down the country.
As the National Governing Body for swimming, diving, artistic swimming and water polo, we have not been immune from the financial pressures of this pandemic. Swim Wales have not increased their membership fees for 5 years. Despite increasing costs and a significant reduction in our other revenue streams we have taken the decision not to increase membership fees again in 2021 and in addition to this will invest significant finance into our member clubs to support them through this period. To put this into context, a category 2 membership, which all club members who wish to take part in Super Series and our national competitions, costs only £34.00 a year, the equivalent of around 65p a week.
We want nothing more than to see you all in the pool, competing in galas and competitions and enjoying the sports you love so much, and I know we have your continued support in the weeks ahead.
CEO Swim Wales