Youth engagement advisory group

We're busy providing young people with exciting opportunities across England and Wales.

Lead volunteer with the Canal & River Trust Lead volunteer with the Canal & River Trust

Since becoming a charity in 2012, the Trust has seen a significant increase in our youth engagement enjoying growth in the quality, quantity and diversity of opportunities. We have also seen a significant increase in the number of young people getting involved and notably from an increasingly diverse range of backgrounds.

Our youth engagement framework, launched in 2017, sets out: social action; skills development & employability; and active participation as the areas where we can have the greatest reach and impact on young people’s lives.

Under these three themes, we have delivered a range of regional and national projects and activities including: the Desmond Family Canoe Trail, the Leicester Young Ecologists Programme, the hugely successful Let’s Fish Campaign and our ‘A Million Hands’ partnership with the Scouts Association. We have also welcomed our first national youth panel, have piloted a new approach to Work Experience, and are making changes to our volunteering programme including the introduction of micro-volunteering, digital volunteering and mass participation events to appeal to younger audiences.

We appreciate the valuable role young people have to play in the waterways both now and in the future and have a number of strategic ambitions related to this area of our work:

  • 1 million children and young people engaging with the Trust and our waterways per year by 2025
  • ½ million children and young people developing skills through their involvement with us per year by 2025
  • 500,000 youth social action hours per year by 2025

The youth engagement advisory group understands more fully the wider context of engaging young people, so that we can plan and deliver effective, innovative programmes. 

The members of the group represent organisations from across the youth and wider charity sector and bring valuable experience and expertise from a range of specialist areas including: youth social action, student engagement and higher education, sustainability, youth policy, youth voice and leadership, sports, mental health and social entrepreneurialism.

The group provides insight, advice and guidance and also helps with issues of significance relating to engaging young people, especially those that may be innovative or controversial.

Meet the chair - Louis Howell

Louis is a dynamic and rounded professional with experience that spans the voluntary youth sector, education sector and the world of small business.

Today, he runs a marketing transformation company, co-runs an educational social enterprise and is a trustee and volunteer at two small London-based charities.

His work with the Canal & River Trust began when he worked on the Action Squads Programme, headed up by NCVYS, which engaged and supported young people in social action across the canal network. This partnership, combined with the fantastic relationship maintained with the team since then, has seen Louis come back regularly to train the Trust’s staff and volunteers on the most effective ways of engaging and working with young people.

Since joining the youth engagement advisory group, Louis has also become a member of the Trust's council and the regional advisory board for London and the South East.


Last date edited: 29 July 2020