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The charity making life better by water

Isolation to Inclusion

Groups in Leeds are being offered a range of waterway activities as part of a social prescribing project funded by Interreg to reduce isolation among vulnerable groups.

A woman paddles a canoe in the sun on the canal

Since 2021, this social prescribing project, based in the Leeds areas of Armley and Bramley, has used the latest research on the benefits of blue and green spaces on wellbeing to tackle social isolation and loneliness.

This is part of a wider project across Europe (read more here I2I, Interreg VB North Sea Region Programme)

What is social prescribing?

Social prescribing aims to connect people to community services and group activities to help improve their health and wellbeing. Our teams are working to get people out on their local waterways, often for the first time, to create community groups and share the joy of being in nature.

The project which runs until May 2023 is open to Leeds residents looking for help with isolation and wellbeing. People looking to join are either referred by social prescription teams or can join one of the local groups supported by the Canal and River Trust.

How are we making a difference?

Thanks to funding from Interreg, we're hosting regular groups for over 60s groups and men's groups as part of an effort to make the waterways people's first call when facing mental health issues because of loneliness and isolation.

Repeatability and affordability are key goals for the project which also hosts walking groups, poetry nights and the chance to learn new skills such as bushcraft and pond dipping. We also run events such as boat and train trips to help locals rediscover what's on their doorstep.

Feeling happier and supported

In Armley, the Trust has supported community groups for the over 60's to get out along the waterways and connect with the area. Sampling a range of new experiences from a Jubilee cruise to writing poetry at the Royal Armouries, members have enjoyed learning new skills and finding ways to relax.

A group of elderly people on a boat

Tackling isolation

A pop-up yarn bombing in Kirkstall helped tackle winter time isolation by motivating residents to join together on a local canalside walk. Organised by Sharron Bright, our community engagement officer, the Woolly Winter Walk brought colour and smiles to the canal with the community pulling together to knit 500 Christmas decorations as gifts for those completing the walk.

A group of women in winter clothing posing for camera

Get involved

For more information about project 121 visit their official website here.

We accept volunteers on this project. If you are interested in getting involved read on here.


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Last Edited: 21 December 2022

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