Tommy, volunteering by water Tommy, volunteering by water

“Volunteering for the Trust really does help me feel much healthier and more confident around others. My sleeping is also much better." 

Tommy began volunteering in September 2021 as part of our Green Recovery Challenge Fund project in Rochdale. He tells us how it has boosted his mental and physical wellbeing.

In Tommy's words

Don’t give up, get outside

If you are facing mental health battles, I would say, don't give up. There is help out there and the canal is a great place to start by volunteering and practising mindfulness techniques with nature around you.

I decided to volunteer with the Canal & River Trust because being by the canal, close to water and nature, seemed the best option for my wellbeing. I wanted to get outdoors more, and keep myself active and my mind busy with outdoor tasks.

I take on activities like litter picking, and plant different things including bulbs, hedges, and trees. I also assist my task manager Gary at events.

For me, the best part is being out in nature and seeing all the different wildlife along the canal. I have lots of fun creating new habitats for the wildlife and meeting new people.

Tommy, litter picking by the canal Tommy, litter picking by the canal

Feeling the benefits

If I didn't volunteer with the Canal & River Trust my mental health would've got a lot worse. I would’ve been in my house a lot, not getting any fresh air or socialising with anyone. I would’ve felt trapped. It's good to get out and about in nature rather than being stuck indoors looking at the same four walls.

It only took a couple of weeks for me to feel benefits. Volunteering for the Trust really does help me feel much healthier and more confident around others. My sleeping is also much better. 

Tommy, volunteer Tommy, volunteer

A new perception

My experiences as a volunteer have changed my perception about canals. I didn’t realise how important they are for our wellbeing or how much being by them would benefit me. And the great thing is that they’re free for us all to use.