The projects, both funded by the Cabinet Office, will help meet the commitment the Trust made at the end of 2013 to inspire and get young people involved in social action on the waterways.
The first initiative, funded through the Cabinet Office's Youth Social Action Journey Fund, and led by the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services (NCVYS) gets under way this spring and will be delivered by the Trust in partnership with the RSPB and the National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs.
The project will see four full-time facilitators employed to work on canal-focussed local ‘Action Squads'. Themselves young people, the facilitators will work alongside the Trust's volunteering teams and will recruit and support young people to set up their own waterways focused Action Squads. Responding to local needs, the social action could be anything from vegetation clearance, graffiti removal, litter picking, improving interpretation or creating new wildlife habitat.
Lucie Unsworth, national youth engagement manager at the Canal & River Trust, comments: "The Trust's aim is to increase the number of young people engaging with the waterways. It's very exciting to be working so closely with partners including the RSPB and National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs – each of which already have successful programmes which attract and engage with lots of young people. We will be able to learn so much from the work and experience they already have.”
Enthusiasm and new ideas
The second Cabinet Office funded project (from its Vulnerable & Disengaged Young People's Fund) is also a year-long partnership project. Led by vInspired, the initiative will run until March 2015.
Two consecutive groups of young people will work with the Trust four days a week for six months –30 people over the year. Working across the Trust's Central Shires waterway, the young people will again lead social action activities that will count towards a ‘Level 2' accredited City & Guilds qualification in conservation.
Lucie continues: “It is really great to be delivering towards our Step Up To Serve Pledge which recognises that the waterways need to attract and engage with more young people. Together the projects will attract many scores of young people to join us over the next year and hopefully beyond. We'll very much benefit from their enthusiasm and new ideas. In return I hope we can give them new skills and the start of a life-long appreciation for the waterways.”