Read the story of how the Canal & River Trust came to be
Work for us
We have vacancies across all of our waterways and in the offices, museums and attractions that support them. We're one of the UK's biggest charities and we take pride in everything we do
If you're thinking of getting in touch then please take a moment to look through these pages as we probably have the answer on our website
Planning & design
All you need to know about planning and design on our canals and rivers
Find a winter mooring
Find a cosy section of canal to hunker down in this winter
10 reasons to take up canoeing
It's a great way to get fit and explore our waterways at the same time
Share the Space
Take a look at our common sense guide to sharing the towpath
Find a place to fish
From reservoirs to club-managed canals and river stretches - find your nearest place to fish
Get your free guide
Download your free guide today and start exploring the waterway nature near you
Download your free guides
You've nine free days out guides to choose from - where will you go first?
Find a walk near you
Are you ready to ramble? Find a waterside stroll or a satisfying hike along our beautiful canals and rivers
Take a look at our upcoming events here.
Find your favourite waterway
With over 95 canals, rivers, reservoirs, docks and navigations, find out more about your favourite waterway
Something for everyone
Help us make a difference and have fun along the way. Find your perfect volunteer role today
Join our team
Could you join your local Towpath Taskforce team and help us to keep our canals looking lovely?
Desmond Family Canoe Trail
If you're aged 16-25 and would like to get involved with this exciting project, please get in touch
Could you be a volunteer lock keeper?
Find out what's involved with this popular volunteering opportunity
We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape.
Jake volunteers regularly along the Grantham Canal. His involvement with the waterways and his experience of working in a volunteer team has literally turned his life around. Read Jake’s inspirational story.
"I’ve gained experience, real training, a feeling of acceptance and self-worth."
Volunteering can change lives, and being near water is proven to aid well-being. You can find a volunteer opportunity on a canal near you on our volunteer pages.
As a child Jake was diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum, but very mildly. He benefitted from fantastic support at school, but after leaving school found himself in a difficult situation. His academic difficulties made finding a path tricky – yet the mild nature of his diagnosis conversely meant that he didn’t fit in at college with young adults who had more serious needs.
Then Jake moved with his Mum (Mo) from Nottingham to a village near Melton Mowbray. Although this was a nicer environment for him, the move actually made things more difficult for Jake as he felt like a fish out of water in unfamiliar surroundings.
At 20 years old Jake was adrift. As well as suffering from low mood and anxiety, Jake also got into an unhealthy cycle of not eating well, not sleeping well, going to bed late and getting up late. He spent a lot of time on his own and, despite their best efforts, his family could not help him break out of this circle.
One day Jake picked up a leaflet for the Grantham Canal Restoration Society (GCRS). It caught his interest and he told his Mum that he would like to go and help out. Mo made a phone call and then took Jake along the very next weekend. This was the start of Jake’s upward journey. He loved volunteering with the GCRS right from the very start. The people were kind, helpful and welcoming. Jake felt as if he fitted in.
After Jake’s first weekend volunteering, the GCRS got in touch and told Jake that if he would like to get more involved he could also volunteer at Lock 15 with the Grantham Canal Society. Jake met Mark Owen, the site manager, did a safety induction and has never looked back.
Jake says: “I’ve gained experience, real training, a feeling of acceptance and self-worth. Most importantly, I’ve gained confidence. I’ve found a real place within the team, both with the restoration society and at Lock 15.”
"It's literally a miracle. If I’d tried to manufacture a situation I could not have imagined anything better."
On site at Lock 15 Jake now gets involved with mixing cement and concrete, brick-laying, site-clearance and security. He goes in five days a week, whatever the weather, often cycling there and back nearly 20 miles a day.
Jake adds: “In the past I had difficulty finding a place and accessing a real lifestyle with realistic goals. This has provided fulfilment.”
Mo says that her son is a ‘different man’. His anxiety has gone, his low mood has gone. He benefits from a healthy routine, getting up early, eating regularly and spending lots of time in the great outdoors.
At the weekends Jake also volunteers for the Grantham Canal Restoration Society, driving the boat, helping to fundraise, maintaining the boats and getting involved with clearance. He’s also worked at Open Days selling tickets.
“It’s literally a miracle,” says Mo. “If I’d tried to manufacture a situation I could not have imagined anything better.”
She describes the volunteer team as being like a second family for Jake, all very supportive and inclusive.
And most importantly of all, Jake is now happy.
Our thanks to Jake, Mo, Ian Wakefield, Mark Owen and everyone at both the Grantham Canal Society and the Grantham Canal Restoration Society for their part in this story.
Turn your life around by volunteering
Make new friends, learn new skills and see where volunteering can take you. Find an opportunity today
Last date edited: 24 February 2017