In case you see an emergency on the coast or at sea and you don't have a radio, ring 999 and ask for the Coastguard.
Lifeboats have been around for many hundreds of years, being first run by local maritime village communities who would go out to save people in trouble at a time when shipwrecks were common. Rowing vessels were first used and many brave lifeboat crews perished, including the majority of one Fateful Caister lifeboat in horrendous seas whilst attempting to get to a vessel (This event led to the Caister Lifeboat motto, “Caister men never turn back”).
As more and more units began to arise and after some time the well known RNLI was established.
Lifeboats were and still are a major part of the maritime community around the UK as by their nature they are mainly operated by people from the local geographical area. Families and crews would and still do provide the vital support for both large and small organisations.
Lifeboats within the UK are not part of any governmental department and run as free standing charitable organisations, raising their own funds to go out into harms way so others may live.