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River Thames Boat Project – June update

We hope that you and your families are all staying well and managing in these challenging times.
A lot has changed in the last few months.  Here is the June update to keep you informed on where things stand with the River Thames Boat Project.

The staff team returned from a period of furlough on the 1st June for a 2 week handover with Peter and the opportunity to regroup, review plans and reconnect with clients. This included time for Sophie on both boats and she is now a proficient skipper for Thames Discoverer. Sophie and Peter also reviewed the status of our volunteer group and plans for volunteering going forward. This will include crew training in the autumn for both cruises and education days, provided we are able to recommence our activities.

There was a Trustee and full staff team meeting on the 8th June via Zoom to discuss plans for the next few months. This was followed by a meeting, also on Zoom, to share these plans with volunteers.

Feedback from our client groups and other organisations that we partner with, confirmed that they are cautious but many are keen to be back on the river with us, as soon as government guidelines allow and it is safe for them. The situation remains fluid and we will keep connected and adjust our plans accordingly. We know that the benefits of time on the river on our boats will be very much appreciated after so much time in isolation.

We were sad to say goodbye to Peter after his fantastic contribution to the charity for the last 13 years. We wish him well in his new role. We are happy to welcome Captain Gunnar Christensen to the team as Interim Boat Manager. Gunnar’s key responsibilities over the coming months will be the management, safety, upkeep and maintenance of our boats as well as being on-call resource in the event of any emergencies. He is a Teddington local and volunteers for the RNLI as a senior lifeboat crew member at Teddington.

We are cautiously optimistic that it will be possible to resume some activities from late September, particularly educational activities. With that in mind, the plan for the next 2 months, is for a further period of furlough for Pippa, Kate and Sophie over the summer. Kate and Pippa are likely to return in August and Sophie at the beginning of September. This will allow us to be fully prepared for resuming some level of activities. By August, we expect to have a much clearer view on further changes to government guidelines and how the return to school will be managed.

The next Trustees’ meeting is on the 13th July following which there will be a further update via email and a Zoom call for Volunteers on the 17th July.

It is a constantly changing landscape, and we will continue to review our strategy and our plans as things develop nationally, and adjust and modify them accordingly.
Special time on the river will be possible again and we all look forward to it very much.
Until then, stay safe,
All the best from the RTBP team

River Thames Boat Project – a message from the Chair of Trustees

Message from Jon Chapman, Chair of Trustees

Dear volunteers, Friends and supporters,

I hope you and your families are safe and well in these very strange and challenging times. Rather than writing to you about what we have planned on the river as the cruising season begins, and all the education activities and initiatives kicking off now that spring is here, I’m sadly having to write about the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic, as you will be unsurprised to hear, has had a very significant negative impact on our operations. Bookings for cruises and educational activities have been cancelled for the next 3 months. In the light of this, the directors, in consultation with our staff, are planning to cease temporarily all operations until further notice.

As part of this decision, the directors have agreed that it would be prudent and sensible to seek the agreement of Kate, Peter and Pippa to certain changes to their terms of employment, the effect of which will be to place them on furlough leave for an initial period until 31 May. As you may know, on 20 March 2020, the government announced the Coronavirus Retention Scheme (CJRS) as part of its response to the pandemic. Under the scheme, any employer can obtain a grant to cover 80% of the salary of employees, up to a total of £2,500 per month for each retained employee.

We have now agreed with Kate, Peter and Pippa that they will go on temporary furlough leave this month until 31 May.

Due to their varying residual responsibilities, there will be different furlough start times, with Peter and Kate starting on 10 April and Pippa on 1 May (as she will be preparing our year-end accounts). There will be no change at all to their remuneration, and they will be paid as normal, but furlough leave will allow the charity to recoup some of those employment costs, an opportunity which the directors feel cannot be ignored in these uncertain times.

Our new Education Coordinator, Sophie, was hired too late for us to be able to ask her to agree to be furloughed, so her position will not change.

During their furlough leave, and as a term of the CJRS, Kate, Peter and Pippa are not permitted to carry out any work at all for the charity, even on a voluntary basis. For that reason, they cannot be contacted when on furlough for any work-related matter and I would ask, please, that you note this. I will keep you informed as to where we are on the furlough arrangements and when we intend to resume operation (we can end any period of furlough, if needed, by one week’s notice).

We have a full handover plan in place for this furlough period and will ensure that any responsibilities of Kate, Peter and Pippa are taken on by directors. Pippa will be monitoring all communications to the charity until 30 April and passing them on to an appropriate trustee, and Sophie will take this role over until 31 May.

I would like to thank Kate, Peter, Pippa and Sophie on behalf of all the directors for all their positivity, great input and help during what has been a very testing few weeks. Really looking forward to seeing them all back to full duties as and when we resume operations, which I sincerely hope will not be too long!

With best wishes,

Jon Chapman

Welcome to Sophie, our new Education Coordinator

We’re delighted to welcome Sophie Owsianka to the RTBP team as the new Education Coordinator. Sophie has a degree in Marine Biology and Coastal Ecology from Plymouth University, giving her relevant background knowledge of the river environment. She has previously worked as an assistant in a primary school and is an active RYA Senior Instructor, teaching windsurfing and dinghy sailing for over 10 years, which involves running Kids club activities, boat driving and plenty of time out on the water!

In her first couple of weeks, Sophie is focusing on learning about the charity, and familiarising herself with the content of the education programmes in order to deliver these to visiting schools at all the RTBP education sites. Key priorities for her over the next few months include getting hands on experience delivering School on the River and Eco-Venturers, working with and developing our growing team of education volunteers and updating elements of Eco-Venturers to reflect recent changes in the national curriculum.

Sophie has already alitter pick cropttended the Volunteer Training Day in February, joined in with Skipper Training on Thames Discoverer and will be getting straight into observing and teaching school days throughout March.  Sophie lives in Chessington and knows the local area and community.

 

 

Linking People Afloat Cruise dates for 2020

11 July 18 in lock (2)

We have 7 dates for our Linking People Afloat days over the next few months.  Join our skipper and volunteer crew for the chance to be on the river on board our community boat Thames Discoverer.  These day cruises are for individuals who are not supported by a group, to come by themselves or with a carer or companion. It’s a safe and caring environment with just 12 passengers and a chance to meet new people and share experiences. The day runs from 10am. to 4.30pm. We include a social 2 course lunch in the saloon and the cost per person for the day is £40.

Dates:  Wednesday 20th May (S),  Tuesday 2nd June (K),  Thursday 9th July (S),  Friday 14th August (K), Monday 14th September (K),  Friday 18th September (S), Tuesday 13th October (K)
(S) denotes upstream towards Shepperton   (K) denotes downstream towards Kew

Please contact Pippa to check availability and to book on 020 8940 3509 or email info@thamesboatproject.org

Job vacancy Education Manager

Are you passionate about outdoor learning, with a personal commitment to environmental sustainability? Do you have the ability to inspire and engage others to understand and respect their environment?

We are looking for an experienced and motivated Education Manager to lead our very successful environmental education programmes, based on our converted Dutch barge Thames Venturer.
The main focus of the role is to deliver our current school programmes: School on the River and Eco-Venturers. You will be joining our small staff team of 3 people, supported by about 70 volunteers. Our volunteers are key to delivering our activities. The successful candidate will need to work collaboratively with our volunteers and with the staff team.
The position is 30 hours per week, term time only, working flexible hours, at riverside locations in Teddington, Kingston and occasionally Tower Bridge and from our office in Teddington.

For full details please click here

Closing date for applications: Friday 24th January 2020

This post is subject to DBS clearance at enhanced level

Best wishes for a happy festive break!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all at the River Thames Boat Project.

The staff team are on their Christmas break from Monday 23rd December to Friday 3rd January inclusive.

The office will reopen on Monday 6th January.

We’re looking forward to 2020 and more special days on the river!

 

Christmas Cheer Afloat onboard Thames Venturer

We eChristmas Cheer 5njoyed a warm and cosy evening on Thames Venturer yesterday. Christmas Cheer Afloat, with carols, mulled wine, mince pies, Santa hats and Christmas jumpers! Thank you to David, on guitar and Chris, on the accordion, for providing the festive musical accompaniment.  We have some great singing voices amongst our friends, family and crew.  Jane Newman with impressive descant,Christmas Cheer 2 Pippa and Val with some German lyrics added into Silent Night and some booming baritones from Mike, Peter O and Matt.

We had traditional carols, Jingle Bells and lots of Figgy Pudding references.   It was a lovely chance to get together just before the Christmas break. IMG_0949

 

Happy Christmas from the River Thames Boat Project! We look forward to a new season of special days on the river in 2020!