We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape.

Health, social inclusion and accessibility

It should be recognised that underperforming waterways and areas of market failure and high deprivation quite often go hand in hand.

The National Planning Policy Framework in promoting healthy communities makes clear the importance of planning for shared space and community facilities. Our network provides opportunities to improve social interaction and access to both formal and informal recreation along or beside our waterways.

Busy towpaths in Birmingham

Social inclusion and accessibility

Over the last 20 years, waterways have been both the catalyst and the focus for an immense amount of regeneration and development activity which has acted to build developer and investor confidence, particularly in disadvantaged areas and contributed to social inclusion. Waterways and towpaths provide a range of outdoor space for cultural, civic, learning and community activity and local heritage.

With waterways on many disadvantaged local communities’ doorsteps, they have an important role to play in skills development and youth social action. Learning outside the classroom is proven to tackle social mobility and be of particular help to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, increasing self-esteem, raising levels of attainment and improving mental health and wellbeing.

Health, wellbeing and happiness

Economic prosperity depends on having a healthy and active workforce. Waterways have a significant role to play, particularly in tackling physical inactivity, obesity and reducing stress, especially in the many disadvantaged communities with waterways on their doorstep.

We are working with Canoe England, local partners, schools, universities, canoeing and football clubs, disability organisations and community groups along the route to develop England’s first Coast to Coast canoe trail from Liverpool to Goole by 2020.

The Desmond Family Canoe trail project runs through Wigan and Burnley where youth unemployment (44%) and child obesity (32%) are well above the national average. Over five years, the project aims to directly engage with 10,000+ 15-24-year-olds and their families through Canoe Action Squads and recruit nearly 2,000 volunteers aged 15-25. Getting young people into canoes and onto our waterways will introduce them to healthy lifestyles, build confidence and new skills in communication, project management, leadership, and develop a sense of belonging to place and community.

Last date edited: 18 August 2017