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Equality Diversity and Inclusion

British Canoeing is committed to ensuring everyone is able to access and enjoy paddlesports, regardless of their identity, background or circumstances, whether they wish to paddle recreationally, represent their Country on the world stage, or give back to the community through coaching or volunteering. 

We are a stronger paddlesport community when #WePaddleTogether, which is why, as an organisation, we are committed to ongoing work to create equal access to paddlesport, championing diversity in all paddling spheres, and creating inclusive paddling settings for all. 

British Canoeing is delighted to publish #WePaddleTogether - a Strategy for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion that outlines the actions we will be taking to drive forward our inclusion agenda across the organisation, and how we will take steps to embed good practice across all of our delivery. It will sit alongside Stronger Together 2022-26 where equality, diversity and inclusion is a cross-cutting theme. To read the full strategy, visit the Stronger Together webpage.

You can read a summary of the strategy here.

If you require an accessible version of the full strategy please download it here.

Equality involves changing the culture and structure of sport to ensure it becomes equally accessible to all members of society as well as ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to realise their talent and full potential. We recognise that this has not always been the case in paddling, and we are committed to working to change this through the delivery of this strategy. 

Helping to build a more equal, diverse and inclusive sport is everyone’s responsibility, and that includes British Canoeing. We also recognise that our work is ongoing and ever-changing, and we will review our work and commitments on a regular basis, and share them with our members and wider community.

Are your details up to date on the JustGo Membership portal?

Did you know that you can update the information on your online membership profile? This includes questions about whether you have disability, your age, and ethnic background, and it enables us to better understand the demographics of our membership, provide services that are fit for purpose, and help to improve the delivery of our programmes and initiatives as an organisation to ensure our sport is open and accessible for all. 

If you are a member of British Canoeing, you can update the equality monitoring data you provide to us by logging in to your account on JustGO Membership, visiting the 'My Profile' section and completing the ‘about you’ information. Any data you provide is stored in line with current GDPR regulations, and is only used for monitoring purposes.

Contact us

Helena Russo is British Canoeing's equality, diversity and inclusion lead to contact Helena regarding any equality, diversity or inclusion queries, please email [email protected]

If you would like to report an incident or safeguarding concern, please get in touch with us via the Report a Concern section on the website.

Expand Inclusion Advisory Group

Inclusion Advisory Group

The Inclusion Advisory Group (IAG) first launched in 2021, and is an important element of our organisation’s commitment to work within equality, diversity and inclusion. The IAG is an advisory function, made up of a Chair and up to eight members. Members can be independent (not involved in paddling, but have experience and knowledge around equality, diversity and inclusion) or non-independent (from the paddling community, and have an interest in driving equality, diversity and inclusion). 

This mix of members means that we can bring in external expertise on wider equality, diversity and inclusion issues, and also ensure that representative groups and communities amongst our paddling membership have their voices heard.

The IAG reports to the British Canoeing Board, and has some of the following functions:

  • To provide advice, guidance, and make recommendations on equality, diversity and inclusion matters or programmes.

  • Provide lived experience recommendations to strengthen the equality framework of the organisations, and make suggestions for improvements to organisational delivery.

  • Hold British Canoeing accountable on the delivery of #WePaddleTogether - A Strategy for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion;

Scroll down to read the profiles of the current Inclusion Advisory Group members. Any enquiries regarding the IAG can be sent to [email protected]

John Mc Calla Leacy

John McCalla-Leacy - Chair

John is Global & UK Head of Environment Social & Governance (ESG) at KPMG. He sits on a number of leadership committees within the firm and is a global leader in his area of specialism. As co-sponsor of KPMG’s African Caribbean Network and sole sponsor of national partnerships with the Princes’ Trust and the institute of chartered accountants, John is a strong advocate for Inclusion, Diversity and Social Mobility. He is also a former GB slalom kayak junior team member and former GB junior team slalom coach.

Anna Stishova

Anna Stishova - Non-independent Member

Anna, also known as KayakingHijabi on social media, is a full-time mother, fitness instructor and an occasional copywriter. She loves arts, cycling and taking part in charity fundraising sports events. Anna has been paddling in the UK since 2011, concentrating on marathon kayak racing by finishing the DW Race in 2019 as a female JV K2 team. Anna has joined IAG because as a Muslim woman and a stepmom to a girl with ADHD, she would love to make paddlesports more accessible and inclusive to BAME girls and women and people with invisible health conditions.

Eilidh Gibson

Eilidh Gibson (she/her)

Eilidh is a canoe slalom athlete from Scotland and she trains with the British Canoeing Programme in Lee Valley. Eilidh's passion for equality led her to create Slalom Inspires in 2018, an organisation to empower women and girls through canoeing. Eilidh believes in the power sport has to shape lives and she is committed to creating opportunities for more people to experience this life-changing magic. In her free time, Eilidh enjoys being creative and crafty.

Rachel Hudspith

Rachel Hudspith (she/her)

Rachel has been involved in Paddlesport for over 48 years, having coached and led for 36 years, and competed in many disciplines in both men's and women's divisions. Through her coaching experience, Rachel understands the importance of being inclusive, accepting and treating people equally. In 2010, with support from many including her immediate family, she made a decision to start her transition and start living my life as Rachel, followed by Gender Reassignment surgery and being awarded a Gender Recognition Certificate. This journey has given Rachel the confidence, experiences and knowledge where she can support and help others from the LGBT+ community to be themselves. Rachel is well-placed to advise on the content in policies, documents and support material that will help others in our sport to participate or compete and enjoy our great sport.

Dave Hunt

Dave Hunt - Non-independent Member

Dave has worked in the outdoors for over 20 years across a range of disciplines and settings. He currently works for Carnegie Great Outdoors at Leeds Beckett University instructing on Outdoor Education, PE and Sport Degree and Masters courses. He is a provider of a number of British Canoeing courses including Paddlesport Instructor and Leader awards, Safety Training, Disability Awareness and Mentoring. Inclusion and the importance of each individual is at the very forefront of his practice.

Benji Evans

Benji Evans - Independent Member

Benji has a wealth of experience of promoting equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in sport. Benji has held various sport development and coaching roles with an EDI remit within NGBs and across the public, education, community and voluntary sectors. A qualified lecturer, Benji has previously taught in both Further and Higher Education settings and he has also contributed to various publications and insight papers related to EDI in sport and leisure.

Julie Robbins Portraitside

Julie Robbins (she/her) - Vice Chair

Julie is the Head of Inclusion at the National Charity Youth Sport Trust, lives in the North West of England and is mum to two secondary age children. Over the last 25 years Julie has had various management positions in sport and community development and is passionate about ensuring everyone has the opportunity to enjoy the life-changing benefits that come from play and sport. Julie has a wealth of experience supporting vulnerable children and young people and working within disadvantaged communities and is “looking forward to working alongside staff, board members and the wider community of British Canoeing to ensure that Paddlesport is a sport that people are inspired to try, able to easily access, and retains everyone’s continued interest and enjoyment.

Alex Laybourne

Alex Laybourne - Independent Member

Alex is Deputy CEO for Power2Inspire, a charity which champions inclusion through sport and has a vision of “nobody left on the bench”. He is also the Head Coach for the Swedish men’s rugby National team, having previously coached Scotland Women’s U20s. Alex enjoys spending time with his young family and has a passion for sport, taking the opportunity to participate in (or watch) as much as possible.

Georgie Cubins

Georgie Cubin (they/them) - Non-independent Member

Georgie is a freelance Outdoors Educator and Climbing Instructor working with adults and young people of all abilities and needs. They’re a keen advocate for Diversity and Inclusion at Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre (LOPC) and The Outdoor Education Company, spearheading initiatives to make the outdoors accessible and welcoming to everyone. They’re the founder of the Queer Outdoors Club based at LOPC, providing a safe space for LGBTQIA+ folks to gather in an inclusive space. They’re passionate about filmmaking and have made several short films focusing on social issues and disability.

Amanda Cadden

Amanda Cadden (she/her) - Non-independent Member

Amanda has been a lifelong passionate advocate for inclusion and diversity, stemming from insight gained through lived experiences. Her personal values are around social justice; integrity; value; respect; being authentic; caring for others and making a difference for everyone. Amanda has held job roles in public and voluntary services for over 25 years, which have aligned with this area of work. Amanda works for a local authority as an Inclusion and Wellbeing Specialist and an Associate Inclusion Consultant for an Inclusion business.

 Amanda started paddling in 2021. Paddling opened a whole new world and frequently challenged her to overcome fears and break down mental and physical barriers. Amanda would like to see the sport becoming more inclusive and accessible to everyone so that everyone can experience the physical, mental, developmental and social benefits of paddling without physical and societal barriers. Since starting paddling Amanda has undertaken British Canoeing Paddle Awards (Start, Discover and Explore, Paddle Sport Safety and Rescue) and aquatic first aid. She aspires to become a paddle sports coach and leader, to be able to support people to enjoy paddling as an activity. She is an active member of two paddle sports clubs and the Women’s Paddling Community on Facebook.

Andy Brittles

Andy Brittles - Independent Member

Andy was born with spina bifida, which led to an amputation in 1983. Several years later he changed career and went to university as a mature student to study for a sports science qualification. On leaving university he went on to work in sports development working for a number of organisations, designing and developing products and programmes to increase activity amongst disabled people. Andy is a real advocate for change and is an Ambassador for the Spina Bifida Association and loves the great outdoors.

Clare Peterson

Clare Peterson (she/her) - Independent Member

Clare is currently head of Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion at the University of Gloucestershire. An experienced practitioner, she has been challenging inequality and working to remove barriers for almost three decades. During her career she has supported the cultural transformation of a range of public and private sector organisations to be more inclusive. Passionate about inclusion and accessibility, Clare constantly seeks imaginative approaches to embed inclusive practice. In 2021, she won a Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence for the University’s Reciprocal Mentoring Scheme. She enjoys keeping active and has recently taken up recreational paddle boarding.

Expand British Canoeing Policies and Partnerships

British Canoeing Policies and Partnerships

As we continue to expand our equality, diversity and inclusion work, we will update and release policies which are relevant to the paddling community. 

You will also find information here about any initiatives or schemes we have joined or any partnerships that we have formed that are helping us drive the inclusion agenda, and which you may be able to get involved with. 

The Equality Policy has been reviewed and revised in 2022 and will be renewed biennially. You can access the Equality Policy here.

We also regularly review and update our guidance to clubs, coaches and volunteers on equality. Club documents can be found on our club resources page. You can find out more about the work we are doing in order to make paddlesports more equal, diverse and inclusive below.

If you would like to request any of the documents in this section in an alternative format please contact us by emailing [email protected]

Transgender and Transsexual Competition Policy 

Our Transgender and Transsexual Competition Policy was updated in April 2019 and is currently under review. A copy of the full policy can be found here.

British Canoeing’s statement on its Transgender and Transsexual Competition Policy can be found here.

The Equality Standard for Sport

The Equality Standard is a framework which provides guidance to sports and community organisations about how they can widen access and reduce inequalities within their sport. This includes encouraging participation from under-represented individuals, groups and communities. 

British Canoeing achieved the Intermediate Standard and has been working towards the Advanced Standard. The Equality Standard is currently under review, and British Canoeing will engage with the new process and set compliance targets once published.

Code for Sports Governance

British Canoeing is a national governing body for sport which is awarded public funding. The organisation is required to comply with the Code for Sports Governance, launched in 2016 and updated in 2021. 

The Code sets out requirements for transparency, diversity and inclusion, integrity and accountability. Tier 3 organisations, like British Canoeing, must have a detailed and ambitious plan to increase the level of diversity and inclusion on its Board and Senior Leadership Team and across the whole organisation and structures within it. We are required to agree this plan with Sport England and UK Sport and publish and report publicly on an annual basis. The Code also has diversity and inclusion reinforced as a major thread across all requirements.

Expand Resources


There are many resources available, both from British Canoeing and elsewhere, that can help you to understand more about equality, diversity and inclusion. 

British Canoeing resources

  • Introduction to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion eLearning - a free to access resource, and a great introductory resource for everyone which should only take around half an hour to complete. 

  • Introduction to Disability eLearning module - a free to access resource, which covers an introduction to: Paddle-Ability; Defining disability; Terminology; Types of disability and key facts around disability. 

  • Introduction to Paddle Ability module - this module will help you to develop an understanding around the challenges people with a disability might face; consider how different craft, paddles and equipment can be used to make paddling more accessible, and how to plan sessions for people with a disability, among other topics.

  • Quality Club - the Quality Club process now includes criteria for equality, diversity and inclusion, supporting your club to identify opportunities to create more inclusive club settings. To find out more about Quality Club, contact our Club Support Officer, Phil Scowcroft at [email protected]

  • Engaging Women in Paddlesport document - This document was produced to provide guidance to clubs, centres and other organisations who want to gain and retain more female members/participants.

External resources

  • Anti-Bullying Alliance - What is Banter - A resource looking at banter and bullying, when to recognise when banter has gone too far, and how to address it. 

  • Sport England Club Matters - Club Matters is a Sport England platform which supports clubs on a range of topics, and it has many resources available that touch on equality, diversity and inclusion in a club context. Check out the links below for more information.

- Engaging with Current Members

- Understanding your Members

- Understanding your Volunteers

- Reaching Different Audiences

- Marketing Resources

- Recruiting Volunteers

- Exploring Your Online Presence

  • UK Coaching - Inclusion Resources - UK Coaching is an organisation which supports sports coaches and coach development, and they have a whole host of resources for coaches looking for more knowledge and information on a range of topics.

  • Sport England - Local Area Insights - The Local Area Insights tool lets you view and explore key statistics for an area of your choice on themes such as population, deprivation and health, which can support your understanding of your local community. 

  • Belong Network - Power of Sport Toolkit - this toolkit explores the vital role that sports and physical activity programmes can play in supporting better social cohesion and integration in local communities and local places.

  • Sport England - Demographic Research - Research from Sport England about how active different communities are, and what the major barriers for people getting active is, which could be helpful to support improving the diversity of your club, session or local paddling community. 

  • Activity Alliance - Access for All - A guide from Activity Alliance to support your sports club to improve physical access for disabled people.

  • Activity Alliance - Inclusive Communications Guide - a guide on how to make your communications and marketing as accessible to as wide a range of people as possible. 

British Canoeing Programmes

  • Paddle Ability - our inclusive programme that focuses on increasing regular participation for disabled people in paddling. The programme is currently undergoing a review and update, and further details of the programme and how to get involved will be released in due course. 

  • Paracanoe - Paracanoe is a paddling discipline for athletes with physical impairments, raced over 200m. Athletes can compete in two types of boat, depending on their classification. The Paracanoe programme supports individuals who aspire to compete at the Paralympics.

#ShePaddles - our initiative designed to encourage more women and girls to participate in paddlesports. #ShePaddles includes #ShePaddles Ambassadors, the Women's Paddling Facebook Community, and the #ShePaddles Club Champions programme. For any enquiries contact [email protected]

Expand Diversity in Our Organisation

Diversity in Our Organisation

Organisational Diversity

British Canoeing is committed to ensuring that as an employer, we create a culture whereby inclusion is embedded in all we do, and recognise that diversity is essential to our success as an organisation.

British Canoeing undertakes Equality Monitoring of our staff annually, as well as conducting a staff survey. Equality Monitoring allows British Canoeing to understand where we have under-representation of any demographics, and monitor how changes to policy and delivery has impacted on the make-up of our staff body. The staff survey collects information from staff on their thoughts about our equality, diversity and inclusion work, both as an employer and our delivery to the paddlesport community.

We discuss the diversity of our organisation in the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy.

Board Diversity

British Canoeing supports and recognises the importance of diversity in its broadest sense throughout its organisation, including on its Board. The Board undergoes Equality training in order to ensure that the organisation's approach to diversity and inclusion is up to date and in keeping with best practice. This will next be delivered in 2023.

A diverse organisation will value and benefit from differences in paddling and sports skills, regional and industry experience, background, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, belief and age, as well as culture and personality. Currently, in accordance with the mandatory requirements of the Code for Sports Governance, 33% of the British Canoeing Board is represented by women. British Canoeing will continue to proactively encourage diverse candidates for Board roles and improve gender equality.

In order to drive greater diversity, the Board has agreed an action plan which will be reviewed annually. During this review, the Board will monitor progress against the actions below and discuss updates required for the next year. The Board is firmly committed to progressing towards achieving gender parity and achieving greater diversity on its Board, including, but not limited to, ethnic diversity, LGBTQ+ representation and disability representation. Our objectives for board diversity are:

  • Focus on encouraging diverse high calibre candidates for Board level roles. 

  • Consider candidates for Board appointments from a wide pool. 

  • Ensure Board appointment ‘long lists’ include diverse candidates. 

  • Report against these objectives and other initiatives to promote diversity annually. 

  • Report annually on the outcome of the Board evaluation including progress on achieving gender parity and greater diversity on the Board.

Useful downloads – Board Diversity Statement and Action Plan