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News article created on 21 March 2014

Canal adoption shows the way for Leeds waterways

Canal Connections, a not for profit organisation aimed at harnessing the potential of Yorkshire’s waterways, have seized an opportunity to improve them by becoming the first group in Leeds to join our ‘adopt a canal’ initiative launched last year.

this growing support is invaluable to us as a new charity and we hope this will encourage others to get involved Claire McDonald, volunteer co-ordinator

Communities across England & Wales were invited to adopt mile-long lengths of canal or river and help transform some of the Trust’s 2,000 miles of waterways. The group have adopted the section between Skelton Road Bridge and Knostrop Lock which also takes in the popular family attraction Thwaites Mill Museum. The group will now embark on making improvements along this popular stretch.

Whilst the Trust still owns the canal and carries out essential year-round maintenance, including around £45 million of expenditure across the country on caring for and restoring waterways this winter, adoption groups are helping bring important added benefits to the waterways by carrying out towpath improvements and improving the overall appearance of the canal.

Claire McDonald, volunteer coordinator for the Canal & River Trust said: “The canals have had an incredible history over the last 200 years and this growing support is invaluable to us as a new charity and we hope this will encourage others to get involved. Our time and money is spent on major priority repairs and keeping the waterways in good condition, but the work of our volunteer groups brings those added benefits which we’re not able to do.

“I can’t stress enough how important local communities are to the canals’ future – whether they join as an adoption group, a volunteer or as a Friend of the Trust, it is this support that will help us improve the canals and put them at the heart of the community. Thousands of people use the canals each year so it’s great that the Canal Connections group are giving something back for the benefit of other people.”

Canal Connection Director, Trevor Roberts, explains the motivations for joining the adoption scheme: “For a long time I have recognized the potential of the waterways to enable and support people to realize and achieve their own potential. I set up this social enterprise to develop Social Action programs and collaboration with the Canal & River Trust and other stakeholders is paramount to its success. I have a great belief that the waterways offer us all something quite unique and can really help people in many different ways.

"Many people already use the waterways for different purposes but we’re keen to work with those communities who are disconnected from them. We’ve identified a series of projects with the Trust’s experts such as creating some circular heritage and environment walks, creating some wildflower meadows and improving access, particularly for those with limited mobility. We’re confident we can make a difference and play our part in helping the Trust reach out to new groups of people.”

You can find out more about waterway adoptions or email volunteer@canalrivertrust.org.uk / 0303 040 4040. At a hands-on level the Trust will work with the group to understand what work needs to be done, whether it’s to record and improve wildlife habitats, maintain towpaths, help fundraise, run educational events or help combat anti-social behaviour.