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The charity making life better by water

How we engage

Find out about some of our past youth engagement projects, including partnerships, and the positive impact they had.

1st Billesley Scout group waving at the camera on the North Stratford Canal

Young Rangers

Our six week programme encouraged intrepid young people to undertake a number of ecological and habitat studies around the Anderton Boat Lift in Cheshire. These tasks included planting a new wildflower meadow, studying flora and fauna in an existing meadow, creating ‘bug hotels' and ‘frog and toad abodes' habitat spaces, and building a pond.

The group of 12-16 year olds were made up of home-educated children and those who have just finished their GCSEs. Those who were home educating spoke about the lack of activities for young teens and how appreciative they were for high quality, free opportunities.

Our Young Rangers scheme formed part of our ongoing commitment to #iwill's POWER of Youth charter.

Urban Wilderness

In 2019, in partnership with Urban Wilderness, we spent a week in Tinsley Marina, Sheffield, working alongside several groups of young people that we met through local youth charity Endeavour.

Together we engaged the young people in three activities. They created a mural inspired by boat art and nature, cleared and sign-posted a pathway through an area of shrub, and built greenwood benches to create a meeting point that facilitates connection and conversation.

Not only did the project benefit the physical canal environment, picking litter, clearing vegetation and creating wildlife friendly logpiles, it also had a positive impact on the young people involved. The Endeavour support staff noted the young people learnt practical skills, like woodworking and vegetation clearance, as well as developing their communication, teamwork, problem solving and confidence, helping them connect to nature and create havens for their peers.

Woman smiles as she canoes

The Desmond Family Canoe Trail

The Desmond Family Canoe Trail covers 162 miles coast-to-coast, and was launched in August 2019.

Our ambition with this project was to provide a variety of new and exciting ways for 16-25 year olds to connect with their local waterways. In turn we hope they continue to protect and care for the waterways in the future.

Find out more about The Desmond Family Canoe Trail and have a go at some or all of it.

Group of scouts sit on lock beam with buckets

A Million Hands

In autumn 2015 we launched a national partnership project led by the Scouts called ‘A Million Hands'. The aim was to engage half a million young people in social action projects across the country.

Scout groups helped to improve the lives of communities living near our canals and rivers in a range of different ways. During 2019 the project focused on fighting plastic pollution and Scouts were out and about on the towpaths collecting litter.

Construction Youth Trust - Budding Brunels

Budding Brunels is an Open College Network London accredited course that gives young people from a diverse range of disadvantaged backgrounds an insight into the built environment. It consists of a three-day STEM programme run jointly with Construction Youth.

Our first project was in November 2015 and a second project took place in July 2016. This was based around the Carpenters Lock redevelopment at Loughborough University's London campus on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Fifteen young people (16-18 years old) from six schools in surrounding boroughs attended. Delivery of the project was supported by 16 of our volunteers.

A group of children strike silly poses

Stratford 2 Stratford

Stratford 2 Stratford was an exciting new youth arts project in 2015. We took 30 teenagers from Stratford east London to Stratford upon Avon by narrowboat. Along the way they learnt all about the wonders of the canals together with the wonders of Shakespeare, and once they arrived they performed 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' at the Dell and as part of the Stratford River Festival.

We know that sometimes, even when people live close to our canals and rivers, they may not appreciate all that they have to offer. Children growing up in urban areas might go for long stretches without the chance to get close to nature. That's why we were thrilled to have the chance to introduce an entirely new audience to the beauty of the canals through the Stratford 2 Stratford project.

Dissertations for Good

A National Union of Students initiative, students are connected with organisations to complete research projects together that look into social, economic and environmental sustainability. The students' work contributes in a tangible way, by producing a report that's useful for their partnered organisation.

Last Edited: 18 October 2021

photo of a location on the canals
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