Every year RSC support the Hindu community to celebrate the Ganesh Chaturthi – a Hindu festival in honour of god Ganesha, remover of obstacles, god of beginnings and wisdom. The festival is observed in the Hindu calendar month September culminating in the immersion of the idol in the River Don at Salmon Pastures in Sheffield.
The festival is celebrated by setting public pandals (temporary shrines) of Lord Ganesha, which are worshipped for ten days with different variety of herbal leaves, plants. These are immersed at the end of festival in lake, rivers or sea along with Ganesha’s Idol.
The RSC provides the technical support for representatives from the Hindu community who wish to enter the Don and carry out the immersion. By liaising with the Environment Agency and the local police force we are able to ensure the festival is a success and doesn’t cause any issues in the river.
This year over 200 people attended the event which was followed by a celebration back at the Samaj in Burngreave.
Over the summer, four practical conservation days were held at Don Valley Moorings as a result of a team effort from Friends of the Blue Loop, Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park (OLP), Canal and River Trust and Henry Boot Construction.
This project is part of a long-term waterway-improvement scheme coordinated by The River Stewardship Company (RSC) looking at improving the area behind the new Sheffield OLP site with the aim of encouraging more people to make use of the Sheffield and Tinsley Canal. The RSC offers a maintenance and management service for the waterways around the Yorkshire area and environmental education in schools and on our rivers and canals.
A fantastic group of volunteers came out in force to improve their local area. Tasks on the day included bench and step repairs, vegetation management, litter picking and painting. So far, the Blue Loop have 80 individuals involved, equating to 45 days’ worth of time and £2,250 of kind contributions to the canal in Darnall.
We also had 60 year-five pupils from Phillimore Junior School down to help with the clean-up task. They carried out a litter survey and used our tools to help get rid of the unsightly rubbish and do a bit of vegetation clearance at the same time.
The programme is calling for fresh faces to join in and help make a difference. Whether you’re handy with a pair of loppers, have a keen eye for litter or just a passion for the environment, there are spaces accessible for all.
Throughout the clean-up sessions, the volunteers come across some very bizarre objects which you would not expect to find in a canal. So far, we’ve found a fridge freezer, an industrial size wheelie bin and WW1 rifle mounted grenade found in the River Don in Attercliffe! People fly tip down there but it is so difficult to recover big items from the canal safely.
On September 23-24, Sheffield hosted the inaugural Waterfront Festival to celebrate the waterways in the city. Across the two days, there was an art exhibition featuring Norah Rogerson, Sheila Bury and Joe Scarborough, free boat trips, fishing and canoeing alongside guided walks, food and craft stalls.
It was a tremendous success, with more than 5,000 people visiting Victoria Quays and Kelham Island that weekend. We also had 20 adults and six young people who volunteered over the weekend to support the festival.
We are hoping to secure more funding for next year to enable us to continue working with the community at Don Valley, and ensuring that we can continue to host more events like the Waterfront Festival.
If you’d like to get involved, we’d love to hear from you – contact us on Twitter @RiverStewards or find us on Facebook or give us a ring on 0114 3540012!
A recent study by The Wildlife Trusts and the University of Essex reveals the ways in which a person’s health and wellbeing can improve significantly from volunteering in nature. To understand this, the study tracked the journeys of those partaking in conservation projects around England. It was found that those who were initially referred to the Trusts with ‘low wellbeing’ benefited hugely from practical conservation volunteering opportunities.
Volunteers for organisations such as the Wildlife Trusts and ourselves come from a variety of backgrounds and have a desire to donate their time in such a way for many reasons including furthering their career or reconnecting with nature. Positive health impacts are a happy coincidence for many volunteers, but now that more hard evidence is strengthening the claim that nature is therapeutic and healing, is it time for the NHS to utilise conservation groups as an official form of therapy? It is suggested that in doing so, the costly strain of mental health support on the NHS could be loosened, and the positive impact that conservation volunteers have on the environment could soar.
■ 95% of participants with low wellbeing at the start of the project reported an improvement in 6 weeks, which increased further over the following 6 weeks.
■ The participants reported significant increases in their sense of connection to nature.
■ Participants reported significantly enhanced feelings of positivity, increased general health and pro-environmental behaviour, higher levels of physical activity and more contact with greenspace.
Volunteer sessions at the RSC focus on improving natural riparian spaces in urban areas and beyond for both people and wildlife. They present an opportunity for individuals to become actively involved in the community, providing social benefits, improved work prospects and a healthier lifestyle.
If you would like to learn more about volunteering with us, please contact Community Team Manager Hellen Hornby at firstname.lastname@example.org, by messaging us on Facebook or calling on 0114 354 0012. We’d love to hear from you.
River Stewardship Company is a company limited by guarantee and registered in England.
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