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News article created on 1 June 2015

Volunteers discover therapeutic benefits of East Lancashire's canals

The first of a series of canal clean ups has taken place under a project set up in East Lancashire to reach out to people who have yet to discover the therapeutic benefits of the region’s canal system.

The Brightwork Project is funded by the BIG Lottery Fund – Reaching Communities programme and seeks to connect as many people as possible to the varied opportunities along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in Blackburn, Burnley, Colne and Hyndburn.

Brightwork Project Officer Emma Fielding organised the clean up along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in Mill Hill, Blackburn and with the help of local volunteers including local councillor Carol Walsh they collected three van loads of rubbish including an old fridge!

The project is aimed at:

  • Volunteers, who want to help maintain the canal network, relax and reconnect with themselves and the environment.
  • Volunteers seeking a training opportunity which may improve their job prospects.
  • People in recovery from mental ill health, substance misuse issues or just struggling to cope with the stresses and strains of everyday life and who are seeking the restorative benefits of outdoor spaces.

Groups that Emma is working with include: The Prince’s Trust, Guides and Rainbows, Scouts and Cubs, Challenge Network, Nightsafe, local community groups, adoption and business groups, Red Rose Recovery (an addiction group), Rockmount (a residential home), WEA, Blackburn College and the probation service.

Emma Fielding, said: “Not only will we be helping people to discover the wide range of ways that they can volunteer, but we will also be focussing on helping volunteers into training, gaining qualifications and will work with them to add their volunteering to their cv to increase their chance of gaining employment.

“It is not just about employment though – we want to find rewarding ways for local people to contribute to their community and to make friends and enjoy the social benefits of volunteering.”

A steering group of representatives of local organisations has been set up to drive the project forward.

This was the first of a series of ‘grot-spot’ clean ups under the ‘Brightwork’ banner for volunteers where they will be involved in activities such as keeping the towpath and surrounding area clean, cutting back overgrowth and carrying out general maintenance. A series of ‘Ebb and flow’ events will also be held to promote the work of the Canal & River Trust and encourage people to get involved.

If you want to find out more about the project, please contact Emma Fielding, Brightwork Project Officer on 07717 480777 or email emma.fielding@canalrivertrust.org.uk