Numerical waterways

An exciting new Canal & River Trust project is starting this spring. The coast-to-coast canal trail is recruiting young volunteers from communities with high unemployment to help create a groundbreaking route across the country.

2 canals, the Leeds & Liverpool Canal and the Aire & Alder Navigation, will be transformed into England's first coast-to-coast canoe trail, connecting some of England's poorest and most deprived communities along the route.

10 key locations, including Liverpool, Blackburn, Wigan, Skipton and Leeds will be connected by the trail.

10,000 young volunteers from communities with high rates of child obesity and youth unemployment are being recruited by the Canal & River Trust to help design and create the trail. They’ll also be helping to run a year-round programme of community activities.

5 years is the estimated length of time it will take for the project to fulfil its aims, commencing in April this year and completing in 2020.

£1.3m is the amount donated by the Desmond Foundation to fund the project.

17 young volunteers will be recruited per team – or Action Squad as they'll be known – set up at the 10 key locations. They’ll be learning new life skills, including how to paddle a canoe, and will help the wider community by making the waterways a better place to be.

150 miles of canal will be spruced up by the volunteers, which will include planting gardens and habitats for wildlife to thrive.

16-25 year olds are being sought to join the Trust's youth management board. The board will be involved with all aspects of the project, from events to community consultation and canoeing. You need to live in the North West to apply for this role.

37% of young people aged 11-18 are overweight or obese, something the coast-to-coast canoe trail aims to tackle. It’ll also provide participants with life skills, and hopefully, greater employability.

If you are interested in volunteering or applying to be part of the youth management board, or if you just want more information about the project, email

Words: Abigail Whyte

Last date edited: 11 March 2015

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