We are giving students skills that will help them achieve their dreams, by encouraging colleges to bring them to our canals.
A group of 20 students from Bath College, all aged between 16 to 22, have just completed a year of monthly visits to the Kennet & Avon Canal, where they have been painting locks, clearing vegetation, conducting towpath surveys and more.
Canal & River Trust Volunteer Supervisor Max Ward is pleased with their work. “The students got stuck in with gusto and as the academic year winds down, we’d like to say a big thank you for all their efforts.
“It’s been fun watching them learn about the canal’s history while picking up practical skills that will help them find employment. At the same time, they are helping us improve the Kennet & Avon for our visitors and boaters.”
Danielle Lally, lecturer at Bath College, says: “This is the third year we have worked with th Trust and we’ll be back with a group of new students next year. Why the Trust? It’s local, practical and doing something good for the community. It’s also great for the students’ own wellbeing.”
She adds: “These students are on our Step Up Progression Diploma and this outdoor learning experience surrounded by nature and beauty has been fantastic for them. Many of them were new to outdoor work and were surprised by how much they’ve got out of it.”
Liam, 16, said: “At first I was reluctant to join in. My feeling was that I didn’t come to college to do this kind of work – but I’ve really enjoyed it.”
Lee Brain, Canal & River Trusts customer operative, helps Max run the tasks with the students and says: “It’s one of the most rewarding parts of my job. I love it – although I’m pretty tired when I get home.”
“The importance of being punctual, working as a team, building confidence, meeting new people, working with a trusted adult. These are all important skills for the workplace,” says Danielle. “Some of the students wouldn’t speak to a person they didn’t know, but Max and Lee have drawn them out. They have come a long way in their personal development.”
Alicia adds: “It’s been fun, and I’ve enjoyed the variety. At Sidney Gardens in Bath we removed plant roots and did some gardening. At Avoncliff we dug foundations for raised beds, at Deep Lock in Bath we restored the bollards and in Devizes we painted Lock 48. I’ve been watching the canal in action and learnt how locks work.
“One very important thing it’s taught me, is to be resilient – to stay focussed on the job instead of giving up.”