Our 2017/18 Annual Report & Accounts chart a further year of progress. In particular it has been a record year for volunteering with active volunteers now significantly exceeding the number of employees as they help deliver our charitable objectives as a Trust for the waterways and wellbeing.
In addition to volunteers clocking-up more than 600,000 hours, with a remarkable 96% satisfaction rate, the overall condition of our waterways continued to improve year-on-year with core spending on waterway infrastructure, maintenance and repairs rising to almost £132m.
Richard Parry, chief executive, comments: "We have seen another strong year as the Trust works towards its vision of transforming places and enriching lives. Our continued growth in volunteering complements and enhances the vital work that our experienced and skilled colleagues deliver.
"Our work across the network has been underpinned by an increase in the number of boats together with strong investment and income performance which now sees the Trust generate more than £150m each year in addition to our £50m government grant. This means we can continue the underlying increase in spend on the care and repair of our waterways."
The success in volunteering is in addition to community ‘adoptions’, and this year the Trust reports 225 community groups working alongside the charity with local people participating in the care of their local stretch, introducing their creative ideas and taking pride in where they live.
This year’s report also details the work underway by the Trust to rigorously evidence the wider benefits of waterways to society, including their benefits for wellbeing which will be critical for the organisation’s approach in the years ahead.
Chairman Allan Leighton said: "Our waterways have a very special place in the public’s affection, but we need to instil a greater belief in their value to us all today, to reach out and connect with a wider range of people, to convince them of the need to extend their support to the Trust, so that the waterways will be cared for in perpetuity.
"As the Trust adapts its structure and aligns itself better to deliver more effectively at a local level, I’d like to thank our outgoing founding trustees and the original partnership chairs who step down this year, as well as all our partners, supporters, volunteers and employees as we continue on this exciting journey."