Special Episode 7: Coalition & Collaboration Leaders

Episode 13 December 20, 2021 00:29:08
Special Episode 7: Coalition & Collaboration Leaders
The Water Safety Podcast
Special Episode 7: Coalition & Collaboration Leaders
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Show Notes

Join special guest hosts Will Koon & Tizzy Bennett for episode 7 of a special podcast series as they interview coalition and collaboration leaders in drowning prevention. In this interview they chat with David Walker of the United Kingdom.

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:01 Hi. Speaker 1 00:00:01 Well, I cannot wait for our conversation today with David Walker. Can you give us a little bit of background? Speaker 0 00:00:09 Absolutely. So David Walker is from the United Kingdom and, uh, he chairs the UK water safety forum. So again, this interview, we're stepping out of our us state, um, mode and we're going across the pond to learn from our friends and colleagues in the UK. A couple of things, um, for background, as you prepare for this interview, rospa is the Royal society for the prevention of accidents. So you might hear David say rospa a couple of times, that's what he's talking about. Um, you're also going to hear a term Wade. When we, when we hear Wade, they're referring to the water incident database, uh, and as a data nerd, they've got some really, really cool stuff happening in the UK around data, which we get to talk to David about. So Wade is the water incident database. The only other thing that I think would be important for our listeners is just to know that an NP is a member of parliament, um, an elected person in, in a legislative capacity. So with that, here is our interview with David Walker, from the UK water safety forum. I want to start with the UK water safety forum. And so I'm hoping you can provide a bit of context, but first would love for you to introduce yourself. Um, it's so good to talk to you. Can you just tell us a little bit about who you are, how you got into water safety and what your role is in the UK water safety sector? Speaker 2 00:01:41 Sure. Okay. Uh, Dave Walker, head of road, unless you safety for roster, which is the Royal society for the prevention of accidents we host and look after the secretary out for the national water safety forum, which is a collaboration of around about a hundred national level organizations in the UK, um, strategic organizations. You can, you know, we believe can make a change on what safety in UK and that's been in existence for, well, since around about 2006 seven in its current iteration. Um, th the reason, um, why rostrum, why, why myself is that rusty used to have a national boss safety committee, which frankly was lots of people who used to sit in a room, talk about the problem, do nothing about it. And everybody used to look to the person in my role previously to do something about it and go away and feel good about themselves. Speaker 2 00:02:44 Whereas the government looks at the problem. We lots of the problem, and they decided to shake things up around about 2004 to 2006. And the outcome of that was the UK is national loss safety for it. So my role within that is I had the programs I had the executive, um, I'm the, you know, the legal owner and the budget holder. Um, and I work with an independent chairperson and an independent group of experts is that as kind of the principal advisory committee. But I also look after the program, basically with it's staff team that will execute that in partnership with key people are deliberate that directly liaise with government and so forth. So where they kind of the hope for the, for the UK network, although there were half a dozen really very big and really very strong organizations that sit alongside us and will lead completely on parts of that problem as well. Speaker 1 00:03:35 David, I'm wondering if I can ask a follow-up question and if you could talk a little bit more about strategic organizations and how you came to, uh, decide and what kind of criteria used for who's involved. Speaker 2 00:03:50 So we aligned our networks around three broad categories of organizations, groups of people, or risk creator. So sports governing body so forth, or a, you know, an activity provider, a regulator. So somebody who owns or manages that risk from a, from a government or a legal point of view, and then a, I think I'll call it a risk influencer. So other people such as landowners and people who can affect the reality on the ground and that that's a stretch strategic choice for who comes into the network. And then there are other kinds of variables, you know, how well aligned they asked who was what essentially is those three criteria that we look for in members of the network? Speaker 0 00:04:33 Can you describe what the water safety forum does in terms of activities? So on a yearly basis, what are some of the outputs that the group has? Speaker 2 00:04:46 So th there are, there were a number of pillars. So, so our activities, and, and first and foremost, the course of that is the collective injury data we build. So the Creps that collective injury surveillance, which is to a weight system, which is the water incident database. Um, and that's, that's a system again, legally owned by the hospital, but in effect, jointly held by, um, the members of the forum of which there's about 12 that are very key, uh, data providers within that. So that's one pillar. And we obviously, that is something that's going on every single day. Do you know, sort of staff in my office from Ireland I's office, which is the lightbulbs office from the coast guard office, from police and fire off fire rescue services are talking every single day, this event happened, let's refine it. Where did they go to the hospital? Speaker 2 00:05:36 Let's find out which color is it going to so-forth, what's the causative, you know, what's the chain of events, what's the cost of insights, et cetera, et cetera, you know, so just building up that picture, Googling that. And we, we only really release the fatalities once a year. So often people just see it pop up once a year, but actually within the network, there's a constant feed of data and doing, we've actually commissioned quite a big project to, to overhaul it. And, and how does that system and, uh, to do some really very smart stuff with the new version that's coming out in, in probably six months time. So that's one key tranche that we do. The other key trends that I would say, uh, which people often overlook is actually just maintain the network and maintain, maintain the capacity. And this is something that I say this to Justin sometimes when it bumped into the sky and say, you know, you stood up in Vietnam and said, let's build a platform for drowning prevention. Speaker 2 00:06:29 And I kind of came back with Steve wills and others from the south and said, okay, we've, we've got, we've got kind of a, you know, we've got a wonky raft here, but let's build, let's build a real solid platform. So we really consistently looked at how do we build capacity to address this? And it isn't just, you know, I could run around and I've got 220 days a year, I've got a numbers of staff to do that. I could never hit a problem on my own. So we build capacity building model. How do we may below this to do that? So there's two things to that is just knowing who's there, who owns the land, who can do it. So that sort of intelligence there, get them into the networks and get them talking and seeing our shared will view. And then at the same time, starting to pop some discreet products or services into that advice, information, those sorts of things like that, uh, identifying problems, you know, we worked, we, we wrote part of the government's response for COVID-19 through the network. Speaker 2 00:07:20 So we wrote the response for beach safety in the UK. And the network wrote that with those funds for, um, the network contributed very heavily to the response for our swimming pool opening, um, response. And we were very quick and agile and we could just literally pull people together a couple of days notice and say, there's a task and finish group go off and do that. There's the resources to do that so far. So building that capacity to respond is the second traunch that we do the third tranche, which we haven't been that good traditionally, but we're getting much better at is communications both within that network corporately and then externally to the, to the public. And then the fourth strand is guidance outputs from the working groups. So that could be government consultations. That could be specific risk assessment advice that could be, you know, all manner of things. Speaker 2 00:08:09 You know, how, what, what's the audit status of, you know, how many local authorities, which are the councils? How many of them have a plan, you know, have the core pillars that we see to be an excellent, uh, so all of those sorts of things there again be kind of external influence pieces and so forth. And then I guess the Fitbit, which is, is communications, but we think of it explicitly, slightly differently advocacy. I don't know, you've probably seen a couple of months ago, but there was a petition in the UK about, um, from Becky Ramsey about, uh, life rings, which garnered a hundred, couple hundred thousand signatures, which triggers an event in parliament where they need to talk about it. So that's a window of opportunity. So we were with key landowners, we were with the actual petitioner and we were with the civil servants who will receive, receive in that petition. Speaker 2 00:08:55 And then we also will work with people who are affected by that. And when we had a conversation to, to agree core messages and say, well, actually this group of MPS or this MP is probably here, you know, fairly agnostic and neutral on the situation. And we are going, who wants to move in there? So how collectively do we want to move them there? So we will work together to feed in and coordinate those messages to move them from this point to that point. Um, and we'll do that on several issues. We do that with an open hand as well. So this is an underhand lobby and we do it quiet by ultimately, and we did it quite transparently as well, but we will, we will consciously act to move somebody collectively from there to there NPS and others are very, very smart people and very, very well-connected people. Speaker 2 00:09:39 But how do we, if they hear it from me as a charity? Well, if anything, for me, plus the fire service, plus the coal guard, plus the government agency plus plus plus, they'll go, okay, I'm going to walk through that door. We'll use the pulse fatalities as windows of opportunity. Again, I think somebody sort of world into prevention conference and frame them that way. And it's really good way to think about it is they will use those windows of loss as opportunities to make positive change. And we're quite conscious about, about doing that. You can't do that with everyone and you shouldn't because we just burn people out or we'll choose, you know, key events to say this, you know, we've framed this and this needs to move. So kind of four pillars within there really, and then other outputs rasper roster itself. And we want it as roster just because, just because of a schism without the way our events team works and so forth. Speaker 2 00:10:26 We want a national health safety conference, which is November the 18th. If somebody wants an online one, if somebody wants to save what we'll get, we can get you a video clip from that. Uh, and then there'll be series of events in networks and so forth get togethers. Um, and then just on a practical level, what are the things to do, which actually really, really greases the wheels is we'll bring them together at nice places or spend a nice day and a nice place switch. Actually, if you're a civil servant, you don't always get to do well. If you're somebody who sits behind a desk and say, okay, we'll have a meeting there, we'll have a nice day, we'll do some learning and we'll get some shared values and we can use the network that way as well. Which, you know, sounds, sounds quite clear, but actually goes a long way to Goodwill, which a lot of this network runs on is Goodwill, Goodwill, sticky notes, and T it runs on as well. That's the, that's the other, Speaker 1 00:11:15 I think, um, I think we'll, and I've got to put that conference on our list. I'm going to ask you how you use a, um, drowning that's occurred as you, you stated it as a window of opportunity to raise awareness or to generate action. If you can. Um, if you can share with us how, how you do that, Speaker 2 00:11:42 Why don't try and event happens, you can view it as it's happened. We leave it alone and we come back to it or you can view it as a window of opportunity. And we view it as the latter. Speaker 2 00:11:54 And what we try to do with that is very quickly take the learnings from that, with the people who are either effective or could see that again in their, in their space. And then again, we'll say, well, what's the learning from that? What do we need to do from that? Is it a strategic repeated issue? And again, we'll apply that learning either through the network, as in, you know, there was a failure X, Y, and Z, I'll actually politically and structurally, or from a systems point of view, this is a repeated indicative of fats and therefore we'll, we'll move it out. So, uh, we very much consciously view drownings as a window of opportunity. There is grief and individual support that we need to do for families and communities, but equally we reframe that as much as we possibly can to say, this is an opportunity. And, and ethically I'm quite okay with that. Because again, if we just accept the fact that they'll die, then the next person will die and so on and so forth. So again, sometimes people have to get the head around the concept of it's a window of opportunity, but again, that's what we're there for is to advocate to stop the next drug, Speaker 0 00:12:57 Uh, conversation. I think in any coalition is very important to have early as well. Right? So you can be well-positioned. Um, if the organization decides that responding to tragedy in that way as something they want to do, um, that's not something that happens on a whim after the event, right? That's something that, um, your group is, is prepared for and planning for. So, Speaker 1 00:13:20 Um, the things that I was just going to share, one of the things that we began to do with the Washington drowning prevention network was to annually have, um, like a faith person come in and just acknowledge the loss of people in our state and how many people are affected. And just to take that moment. And the other thing, um, that we have tried to do is bring families in to talk a little bit about it. So then we hear about it from the family perspective, and they're ready to also hear what does Marine patrol have to say, how do we move it from that grief to action. Um, but I, I appreciate how you're incorporating thinking about that. Thanks. Speaker 2 00:14:08 Yeah, definitely. And we, um, I mean, we look to the U S we have a proximal network, uh, families against routing in the UK. So we have a series of parents who will come to the members and we've, we've started to point them. So this, again, families against drowning network, which again is, um, from a strategic point of view, it's really very useful, I would say. Um, because quite often they will take an absolutist position, um, and quite, uh, an effective position. You know, I think one of the, one of the scariest sites for a senior civil servant and a political holder is a group of angry, motivated mothers stood outside saying why my son daughter gone and why is this a repeated event? That's a very, very sobering thought, even for some of our more hard-nosed politicians. So that's that, you know, that's effective there. Speaker 2 00:15:01 Um, but again, yes, we, we do that. And then we do some more systematic things like we have, um, investigation reviews. And actually the, the projects I mentioned before with who is, um, you know, we're formalizing some of our Delphi processes for structured review and learning. So we have, we have a couple of key processes, you know, about life jackets and stuff. Would, would this be amenable to prevention? So we started to follow them, and then we're going to look to scale and probably over the next few years, cause that's, that's one of the areas where we feel we need some more, uh, evidential base, but again, that's effectively looking at these learns quickly and systematically, and then scaling that, learning the cost. So this comes like a rapid alert system when it two in the three in the network, well, rapid under thoughtful alert system, Speaker 0 00:15:46 I want to move us on. But one thing that just is continuously shining through our conversation here is how your group relies on data. Um, right when we asked a little bit about structure, the first thing you said was data and repeatedly the use of evidence in the use of information, um, is, is coming up as, as very informative and foundational for your activities, which is really good to hear. And I think important for people who, who are looking to do some coalition work in the water safety space, uh, to, to learn from. So I wanted to move us onto facilitators and barriers. So would you share with us a couple of facilitators that you, um, have experienced a couple of the successes of the water safety forum, and then we'll move on and chat a little bit about challenges. So first, yeah. What are some of the big successes that you've seen in, in your years, uh, working with the water safety forum? Speaker 2 00:16:43 I think, well, let's touch upon the data one. Well, I think that that's, that is quite clearly a first one. The, the part of this current iteration of the forum was bought out. And the fact that we, as a country couldn't really count the numbers. You know, we didn't have one agreed figure. We didn't have one agreed with you invest. It was all a little bit a mess. So one of the early things we did was to build weight. We commission pilots and builds Wade organizations, such as wildlife saving society, ROS for ourselves. Our and I, we used to have these other Aesop, these kind of, um, semi joined pilots, you know, that semi joined schemes that wouldn't always conflict. And we just went, okay, we're going to put them to one side, which was a brave decision for us to get rid of them. Speaker 2 00:17:27 Cause there was, you know, those pay a lot in terms of PR and, and so forth those, those windows for them and say, okay, we're going to have one system which gets us to one figure which grows there. So that's a big, big success for us. I think the other one, which is a bit less concrete or every, every bit is in course and each trust. So early on, maybe, maybe about 2010s or something like that, we had a series of high profile fatalities. They could have resulted in corporate bonus salsa cases, which is the highest, you know, the highest kind of punishment you can have for a company in this contract. And we, you know, we worked in that network to deal with some of the fallout is some of the issues that we didn't the network in its whole dissertation or the members and the oldest stations with just the gone head-to-head and had this massive fight in the press about these words, we sat down and said, okay, you could do that. Speaker 2 00:18:21 Or you could sit down collectively in this room and this space of trust and work through why and work through what needs to happen. And then sit down and turn that into a program, which is what we did. We taught that option B so that those kind of having them in the room and facilitating that trust and then them collectively saying, okay, we're not going to make a public bonfire out of this. We're going to deal with that. That's a really key one for us. And I think the third one, which is probably what, where people pick up from us is the formulation of the UKs drunk and struts. Yeah. I think that's, that's, you know, our public document. Um, we spent a long time, maybe two years thinking about that. The first iteration of that we failed, we completely failed or that we missed the mark by a long way. Speaker 2 00:19:05 We were just, you know, not ambitious or radical enough. Um, you know, that was it 2016 and that should have been out 2014. And we were, we were a long way away from it. I'd spent 30 years, 2014. Um, but that, that really was a conversation involving the whole network and really was the point where people outside of the network went, oh, hang on. There's something, there's something interesting going on here. You know, th th we're doing something smart. And if you look at the way that we frame the targets, if you look at the way we frame the goals, you look at that we've got over 60 organizations to say, we're going to commit to a 50% reduction and do something about it. That's a big, that's a big leap because we have a group of CEOs that turned around and said, okay, I'm going to commit to that, which has board level implications for some of that as well. Speaker 2 00:19:51 So, so that's a really big one to get from where, you know, four or five years before we went nowhere near that. Whereas actually to publish that. And for that to me, then sponsored and owned by government is it was a real big indicator. So from that point on that strategic framework really guides everything we do. And again, there's probably a fourth one, which I don't know if you went and asked somebody else in the network, is it that important? I wouldn't say you necessarily would be able to articulate it, but for me, it is, we have a, we have a document called a guiding principles, which kind of encapsulate some formalizes, some of the things. So an example would be that we agree that no activity can be made completely risk-free. Now that doesn't, you know, that may not be, you know, that doesn't always, if you don't think about it properly, some people say, well, that's not a zero harm. Speaker 2 00:20:42 Do you have a vision or strategy to say, well, actually we can not kill people, but we can actually still keep some risk in there. So if you go surfing, well, there's some risk in that. There's sort of risk inherent in that, but we equally can do things so that there are not lots of people killed with that. So there's the, you know, there's some kind of quite core principles and we'll views in there. And we develop that from things like, uh, our views on nuclear risks and our views on managing public risks and, and other things like that. Would the members be able to say that no, but actually it permeates through what they do and the decisions that they make. Absolutely. Because, and again, because any member of staff comes on, he's trained in them and understands them and actually gets them. Now from your point of view, as a, you know, I think you're a trained epidemiologist and others bear kind of fairly obvious to you, but they're not necessarily obvious to a practitioner. And it just makes them reframe some of their decisions, uh, in the way that they tackle things. They think of it as systems and tolerance to risk rather than absolutism. And, um, that was most, we just reframed the conversation. Hmm. Speaker 0 00:21:47 I want to go back and an ask a follow-up on trust. So in the UK, and I think in most geographies, there are complex stakeholder landscapes that require really careful navigation. And you have arrived if you're describing a situation now, which I think is a very positive environment where you have big organizations with big responsibilities, all working together towards the same thing. Um, how do you do that? What recommendations would you have for folks who are working in stakeholder landscapes, where there are big egos and people who have been working in this area for a long time and institutions that have been working in this for a long time, what sort of recommendations would you have, um, to help people try and facilitate a healthy and collaborative environment like that? Speaker 2 00:22:55 Trust is one of the absolutes that we have. I don't have many absolutes, you know, rules the way we work here. But I think trust is one of, one of the absolutes. It's an ongoing process. There's going to be challenging. You know, you start, you start the ball rolling on this network, and there's always going to be bumpy bits and challenges. And there are a couple of things that I say to all, all our kind of team members. And we have this kind of, when we meet, well, we used to meet quite regularly and talk this through. But when we meet you kind of say, you're going to have these bumpy moments in terms of trust and challenge. The key thing for us is to be clear both individually and organizationally, whether you want your name to be no, or you want to not make a difference, because that often boils down to the, you know, the trust equation for me is, do, do you want to be known as the person who saves this or do you want to actually make a difference? Speaker 2 00:23:52 And, uh, without we've got a network with enough of a car from memory where they can see both outcomes and both types of people within the network and actually in the net, the network's quite good at chewing out the latter personally, either get ironed out or they're ironed out and organizations, I think in reflection, you know, trust the central, it is an absolutely central thing. And whoever you choose to lead or facilitate, this has to understand that the challenge moments, you know, when there's a crisis, either, you know, for whatever reason, you know, there's often a key question that it's whether that person or organization wants to be known or have the press or PR the prestige of being seen about this, or they want to, to make a difference because when we're attacking drowning, you need to attack it from multiple points. It's a complex event. Speaker 2 00:24:42 And therefore it needs multiple complex things that it's rare that there's one organization that can do that. We can teach children to swim. We can change environments, we can increase sound and a work, but what it's very hard for one person to do to do all those things. We've got to work together. And by definition, that means you sometimes have to subjugate your own needs. And sometimes your organizational leads to this collective approach because it's a systems challenge. So that's where the trust challenge comes in. I think the second part of trust, this is something that you have every single day. You know, it's a bit like the personal brand reputation question. You know, you can spend years building up in seconds to, to knock you down. I think it's the same thing. It's those key decisions you have to, you have to view it through that is what is better. What's the best thing for the strategy. What's the best thing for the outcome? I think the other, you know, the other tools we use quite a lot to build trust staff facilitation. So we'll bring in neutral facilitators and we'll use things like logic models as well. So we'll take people through logit models and again, it gets them away from, I can do X versus what is the outcome, which actually is quite helpful from a trust part of it. Speaker 1 00:25:55 This has been such a rich conversation. And, uh, we just are so grateful for you your time and this expertise that you're sharing is absolutely phenomenal. You, we have a lot, uh, to take away and to think about and consider for the California coalition. Is there anything else that you would like to share with us today? Speaker 2 00:26:25 Um, I guess just coming back to your question on facilitators, I think when we rolled the strategy, we explicitly Mason choice choices to frame it in a number of ways. We frame it through a political lens, through a technical lens, through a societal lens and so forth, which again, sounds bites and classic, but when you actually do it, it means I can talk, we can talk to a mother, we can talk to a politician, we can talk to the public. And we're quite conscious about how we're framing those windows and, and, and within those windows, what we want to do. So all of our conversations have their kind of offer ask framework in which you would have heard, you know, this, this is, this is who we are. This is our offer. This is what we ask of you. And we're very, very conscious about how we communicate now in, in, in that regard. Speaker 2 00:27:10 So that's quite core. And then I think the other one is just be brave, get out there and make it an issue for a politician. So, you know, make it an issue, but give them a solution as well. You know, this thing needs a million quid, and if you do this, then it will make a difference. You know, be brave. Our current chair, Darren Whitaker, who's chief executive of a fire authority. And she wasn't advisors for five minutes before hadn't been in a previous life. It was really very much, you know, really very much will put it onto our politicians and our leaders told us, so we're very much, you know, we would consciously pick and work with people who can do those things. So be brave as well as the other thing, you know, Speaker 0 00:27:51 Uh, David, thank you so much there. This conversation has been so informative and, and so good. I, um, I so appreciate your careful and thoughtful ethos with this work. Um, you know, it, it's, it's apparent that you are a deep thinker in that your, the actions of the UK water safety forum are, um, deeply rooted in, in, in belief. Right. Um, which I think is so, so key. So thanks again for, Speaker 2 00:28:28 We're not, we're not afraid to have a scrap as well. Don't, don't, don't, we're not, we're not playing fast. We will, we will have a scrap of <inaudible> again, tactics, we will use tactics, you know, but that there is the other side of it as well, which often does it air, but we are, you know, we will have a scrap to if need be, and that's not a bad thing in itself, if you, if you can still, you know, still talk about to people at the end of that. So, yeah. Speaker 0 00:28:56 Okay, Speaker 2 00:28:57 Great. Speaker 0 00:28:59 Yeah. Thanks, David. Really appreciate your time. We'll stay in touch. Bye Speaker 2 00:29:07 Bye.

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