Group of young people on the canal planting trees Students from Newfriars College help the Trust plant trees at Harecastle Tunnel on the Trent and Mersey Canal

A partnership with Project Search of Newfriars College in the West Midlands has enabled SEN students to develop the soft skills they need for future employment, by creating a beautiful wildlife corridor along the Trent & Mersey Canal.

A positive impact

This partnership came to fruition during the pandemic, at a time when Newfriars SEN College students were facing challenges transitioning from education to NHS employment, due to lack of available internships.

Offering a stretch of our towpath as a blank canvas for the Project Search team, a team of eight students came up with the idea to create a wildlife corridor brimming with biodiversity in an area that needed attention. 

The pupils worked to clear the site, plant native plants, and create bug houses and hotels. Together, they turned a 70-80m area into a space where nature can thrive, and where people can sit and enjoy nature. All the while, they developed confidence and key soft skills, which successfully helped them gain employment in the NHS.

Group of young people on the canal planting trees Students from Newfriars College help the Trust plant trees at Harecastle Tunnel on the Trent and Mersey Canal

After the success of the first cohort, we're utilising this as an ongoing opportunity on a regular basis to support and empower Newfriars College students.

Needless to say, canal users are delighted with the new scenic area, and we are too!