Castle Point Leisure has launched a series of community workshops after discovering a worrying lack of CPR and first aid awareness among local people.

Operated by Castle Point Borough Council, the organisation is responsible for Waterside Farm Leisure Centre and Runnymede Swimming Pool in Essex.

After watching a news item about the public’s lack of knowledge about CPR, Dean Bolton, duty manager and training and development coordinator at Castle Point Leisure, decided to conduct his own research among the centres’ users.

He said: “We issued surveys and spoke to customers at the reception. We were shocked by the feedback. Hundreds of customers come through our doors every day, but very few of them knew how to perform CPR and basic first aid skills. Parents and carers also said they wouldn’t know how to help a choking child.”

The findings prompted Castle Leisure to launch an RLSS UK Save a Baby’s Life workshop. Free to attend, the two and a half hour session gave local parents and carers basic emergency skills and was so well received by the community that Castle Leisure followed it up with a second Save a Baby’s Life workshop.

“The workshops have proved incredibly popular and the feedback we’ve received from parents, grandparents and expectant mothers has been phenomenal. Local people really want to know how to perform CPR and give basic first aid. Our last course had almost 40 attendees,” said Dean.

The workshops are delivered at Waterside Farm Leisure Centre by Castle Point Leisure’s four in-house training assessors who specialise in their unique training area. The organisation will run another three RLSS UK workshops this year – Save a Child’s Life in May, Save an Adults Life in August and the entire Save a Life Series (baby, child and adult) in December, and plans to run four courses each year thereafter.

The Save a Baby’s Life workshops will remain free of charge, while a £10 fee will be applied to other sessions to cover the basic costs of educational materials and refreshments.

The new workshops expand Castle Point Leisure’s training and development offer, which ranges from first aid and pool plant operation to COSHH control and food hygiene courses.

“We’re really proud to add these community outreach workshops to our training programme. There’s a gap in the local market for quality, yet affordable training. As a local authority-run operation with the training skills in-house, we can plug this gap while offering a valuable service for local people.”

Martin Symcox, director of IQL UK and Water Safety Management at RLSS UK, says: “At RLSS UK, we passionately believe that every parent or carer of a child should have training in CPR and First Aid skills. You never know when you may need them. Our Save A Series courses provide people with the basic skills which last a lifetime and really can mean the difference between life and death. We are thrilled that staff at Castle Point Leisure also value the importance of these skills and are holding Save A Baby’s Life workshops for their customers and the wider community.”