A PROGRAMME to help young people be safe while swimming has been granted funding for this summer.

Harwich Haven Authority is partnering with Swim England and the RNLI to fund the delivery of a swim safety programme to the children of Harwich and Dovercourt during July and August.

The free sessions will be focused on teaching school-aged children how to stay safe and what to do if they get into difficulties in, on, and around open water.

Young people between the ages of seven and 14, who can swim 25 metres unaided, are encouraged to take part.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: Picture: Harwich Haven AuthorityPicture: Harwich Haven Authority

The authority, which is a member of Tendring Water Safety Forum, is supporting the programme to ensure more than 500 children in the towns will have access to the free sessions.

Tendring Council is also funding a Swim Safe programme in Clacton, which will start on August 16.

“We funded the Swim Safe programme in Dovercourt Bay in 2019 and it was a huge success,” said Neil Glendinning, chief executive of Harwich Haven Authority.

He said: “With overseas travel restrictions still in place we are expecting the beaches to be busier than ever this year, so it’s even more important that families take advantage of these free sessions.

“I am convinced the work Swim England and the RNLI are doing to educate young people through this programme is vitally important and will ultimately save lives.”

Following the disruption of the pandemic over the past 14 months, concerns have now been raised over the safety of young people near water after vital lessons have been missed.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: Picture: Harwich Haven AuthorityPicture: Harwich Haven Authority

Ashley Jones, Swim England’s water safety and drowning prevention manager, said: “New research has really highlighted the impact of Covid and how many children have missed out on swimming lessons during the pandemic.

“Figures suggest by the end of the 2020-21 academic year, 240,000 fewer children will be able to swim 25 metres compared to the previous academic year.

“With many choosing to stay local for summer breaks this year, it is even more important for youngsters to attend Swim Safe sessions, which provide crucial water safety advice.”

To find out more about the scheme, which is available to book in July, go to swimsafe.org.uk.