Since April 2021, the Canal & River Trust and the IWA Restoration Hub have been working closely with the Young Trustees Movement to gain insight into the world of canal restoration.
A need for Board and volunteer diversification was identified across this important sector and so together we organised a series of workshops and webinars.
Diversifying restoration groups
Restoration groups work tirelessly across our waterways network to bring back stretches of canal that have fallen into disrepair since the industrial revolution. Made up of volunteers, and many working under charity status, the groups have been active since the 1960s.
Often working on canals that run through and connect diverse communities across England and Wales, restoration groups need to ensure that this diversity is reflected within their organisation to ensure that the work they're doing has the community and its needs at its core.
With much of the work focused on preserving our waterways for future generations to enjoy, it's vital that young people are also represented, so they can help shape the future of our canals and rivers in relevant ways.
The training opportunities we're arranging with the Young Trustees Movement are helping these restoration groups evaluate their current culture around governance, youth inclusion and diversity and make positive changes in reflecting local communities.
Shaping our future through young people
Currently, less than 3% of charity Trustees in the UK are under the age of 30.
In 2021, we launched our first Youth Fellowship programme, which provides opportunities for young people to get involved with the Trust at a decision-making level and help shape our future. The programme also enables participants to develop their knowledge and skillsets to enhance their future career prospects.
In the Spring of 2022, we held our waterway restoration conference, in partnership with the IWA, at the Subscription Rooms in Stroud. Here we were joined by the Young Trustees Movement for a breakout session where they gave an insightful presentation on the barriers to inclusion, why diversity and inclusion are a necessity and shared real life case studies.
Restoration volunteers were then guided through a tool that helped identify areas where work is required and the support that is needed, helping them to create a practical next step to move forward.
We are looking forward to continuing our work with the Young Trustees Movement and offering various training opportunities for restoration groups around this important topic.
We ran a Q&A session with the Young Trustees Movement in October 2022, which you can view below.