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The charity making life better by water

Volunteer numbers soar in the North West

The number of volunteers who help keep the canal system in good shape in the North West is rising…

For the number of volunteer hours has increased by 13.75 per cent over the past 12 months to a staggering 70,777 hours – or 10,111 days - in the Canal & River Trust's North West and Manchester & Pennine Waterway areas.

This includes the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Lancaster Canal, Rochdale Canal, Ashton Canal, Macclesfield Canal and Peak Forest Canal.

Canals and rivers offer a unique opportunity for local people to get involved to help create a real community asset and to make their waterway a great place to take time out away from the hustle and bustle of every day life and enjoy the rich flora and fauna.

Huge range of tasks

Volunteers take on a huge range of tasks that are integral to the upkeep of the canal system, including helping to keep towpaths clean and tidy, cutting back the vegetation that grows along the canal and river banks, being volunteer lock keepers and looking after people visiting the North West on boating holidays.

Groups of volunteers, organisations and local businesses are also helping out by adopting sections of the canal, with 33 sections of canal in the region now being formally adopted and making a positive difference.

Over 75 different groups of all ages and interests ranging from Leeds & Liverpool Canal Society, Crooke Village Residents Association, Victoria Anglers, local businesses to ‘Can we Dig it' a local hospital group whose patients volunteer as part of their recovery programme, are now working with the Trust, ensuring that the region's historic canal system is maintained for future generations to enjoy.

A friendly face

Canal & River Trust waterway manager Chantelle Seaborn said: “We are very grateful to everyone who volunteers with the Canal & River Trust. They make the waterways a nicer place to visit, including providing a welcome friendly face for everyone using our wonderful waterways.

“Volunteers help with a wide range of tasks, from painting fences and clearing rubbish, assisting boaters through locks to collecting data that helps us look after many much loved and endangered wildlife.

“There are all sorts of opportunities to get involved, including some office-based roles. I know volunteers enjoy the social side of the role and the chance to get outdoors and meet people. It's a lovely way to spend your spare time.

“Many years ago volunteers saved much of the canal network from closure and have underpinned its survival in recent decades by continuing to support them. In recent years there has been an explosion of new people coming to volunteer on the waterways and this is a fantastic springboard to securing the canals' future.”

Young volunteers

One of volunteering successes is Amy Irvin who lives opposite the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in Netherton on Merseyside and was the driving force behind the community adoption of a section of the canal when she was 18 – making her the youngest person to ever adopt a canal.

In March Dylan Manning from Burnley Towpath Task Force won the Canal & River Trust's Young Volunteer Award to recognise the growing contribution and commitment of younger volunteers.

Last Edited: 17 June 2015

photo of a location on the canals
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