Welcome to the crew volunteering section of our website. Here you’ll find information that we hope will help you make an informed decision about whether you want to apply to join the crew.
Watch a short documentary Time with the Crew that examines the thoughts and motivations behind six volunteer crew members.
About being a crew member
It takes a special kind of person to cope with the risks. Currently there are over 25 volunteer crew members (including trainees), one full-time mechanic and one night watchman – our handsome gnome that keeps an eye on both lifeboats in all weathers. The volunteers come from all walks of life: many of the crew have connections with the sea through their regular jobs but it’s not a prerequisite. All of them are, however, committed to providing the local community with a high quality rescue service on the water – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
The station also has a volunteer lifeboat operations manager (LOM), who is in charge of deciding whether to launch the lifeboats, and there are four volunteer deputy launching authorities (DLAs). There is also a volunteer lifeboat press officer and lifeboat visits officer.
Everybody involved at the station has an important part to play. You need to have a real commitment to the job and you also have to be prepared for a lot of training and unsociable hours, so your family needs to be very understanding. It also takes an understanding employer to let you leave your job at a moment’s notice so you will need to make sure your employer is happy for to drop everything as soon as the pager goes off.All the lifeboat crew and LOM and DLAs carry a pager but you never know when the pager is going to go off and interrupt your everyday life.
- be over 17 (with the permission of your parents) or over 18 years old
- be under 45 years old (for the inshore lifeboat) or 55 (for the all-weather lifeboat)
- pass a medical and eyesight test
- be physically fit
- live and/or work close to a lifeboat station
- pass a probationary period that usually lasts for 1 year
- be a team player and be accepted by the rest of the crew
- enjoy hard physical work.
Crew members also need good personal skills. This means you need to:
- get on well with other people
- communicate easily – that means talking and listening!
- obey orders when required to.
‘Just by being on the boat you get an idea of the team spirit and camaraderie the crews build up. There’s also the exhilaration of being out at sea and the incalculable feeling of helping to save lives.’
Being part of Poole lifeboat crew is a major commitment, which could ultimately include risking your life. Your commitment involves attending weekly meetings, undertaking regular training programmes as well as being involved with the rescues. Alongside this you may also be asked to help show visitors around the station, help with local fundraising, organise and help run the station’s open day, and you may even be involved in some filming and other media requests (although there are usually other crew members who are first in the queue to be famous!).
Crew training at Poole
Initially there is a 4-month shorebased training period as part of a 12-month probationary period when regular training programmes account for much of the time. This training includes boathandling, radio communications, casualty care, navigation, radar training and getting to know and work with the crew.
‘It’s good to have a trial period. You can review your commitment to the station and we’ll know by then whether you’ll stick to the job.’
When you go out on the lifeboats you will work with the coxswain or helmsman and carry out duties to operate the lifeboat during rescues and also ensure the safety of the people that have been rescued.
The RNLI and Poole Lifeboat Station provide first-class training and equipment, guidance and support. For you it’s an opportunity to achieve, to save lives, and a chance to be part of our world-class rescue service locally at Poole. We can offer you one of the most exciting and fulfilling voluntary jobs available but in return we will expect you to commit to the necessary training and give us your time.
You will also get:
- woken from a deep sleep in the middle of a cold night and sent out in an open lifeboat for 3 hours
- put through a rigorous training regime
- Summer barbecues
- Christmas dinner (well it’s usually after Christmas by the time we organise it!)
- the chance to use your skills to really help people, and maybe save someone’s life.
So is it worth it? Definitely!
If you are still interested in becoming a crew member at Poole Lifeboat Station please take a little more time to look through the following list of questions to see if you have what it takes:
- What do you know about the RNLI and Poole Lifeboat Station?
- Do you live and/or work close to Poole Lifeboat Station?
- Are you prepared to interrupt or even give up some of your social life and drop everything when the pager goes off?
- Do you have your own transport to get to and from the station at a moment’s notice?
- Can you be available for call outs at a moment’s notice:
- during the daytime?
- during the evenings?
- at least two weekends each month?
- Have you spoken to your employer to check that they are happy for you to leave your job when the pager goes off?
- Are you able to train for at least two sessions each month (one on the inshore lifeboat and one on the all-weather lifeboat), and attend weekly meetings (Thursdays)?
- What is your personal motivation for becoming a crew member at Poole Lifeboat Station?
- What experience do you have/can you offer Poole Lifeboat Station?
- As well as the training and call outs, what other activities would you be prepared to help with at the station?
- What do your family and friends think about you wanting to join the lifeboat crew?
- Do you like making tea and coffee and doing the washing up for over 20 crew members?!
‘When you join the lifeboat service, you join because you want to. Once you are a lifeboat crew member, you are a lifeboat crew member 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. That’s part of the service and this is what we do. When it’s called for, we do it.’
Ready to apply?
If you think you have what it takes to be a crew member at Poole Lifeboat Station, then please write to the Lifeboat Operations Manager, Rod Brown, to let him know why you are interested and provide the following information:
- your age
- your address
- your place of work and work commitments
- what your availability will be – daytime, evenings and weekends
- any experience you have.
You can either email us, push the letter through the letterbox at Poole Lifeboat Station or post it to:
Poole Lifeboat Station
Telephone: 01202 665607
‘How many other people, when asked what they did at work that day, can say: “I saved a life”? It’s the ultimate in job satisfaction.’