One of the ways to facilitate river stewardship is to work with and involve local people in the management of the waterways near to where they live or work. We currently host weekly volunteer days every Tuesday and Wednesday and a session every second Saturday of the month, as well as hosting short and long-term volunteer programmes for other projects. After delivering the Blue Loop Community Project, we helped to set up and continue to support the Friends Of The Blue Loop, carrying out practical conservation work on the River Don and the Sheffield and Tinsley Canal in Sheffield.
We understand the importance of education for protecting our rivers in the future, and as such we organise and deliver regular interactive workshops to involve the local community in fun activities and educational sessions about the waterways in Sheffield; both on the river and within a classroom environment. Ranging from canoeing taster days and graffiti workshops on the canal for for youth groups, to raising brown trout in schools and releasing them into the river, through to minibeasting and guided walks for families, our workshops are fun, engaging and highlight the value of our waterways as an important wildlife habitat. Bringing the river into the classroom and taking the class to the river.
Our vision is to involve local people in their waterways to help care for them. In order to build communities which can successfully conduct riparian management tasks, we realise that specialist training and expertise is required; and we offer vocational training and work placements in order to develop individuals to meet these requirements.
Working with a local college, we offer a limited number of NVQ Apprenticeships in Environmental Conservation. The qualification includes specialist units requiring students to create structural habitat features and conduct vegetation management tasks, as well as developing soft and transferable skills in team working and communication. Students completing the qualification have successfully progressed into employment within the industry; including Kyle, who works as on of our Site Operatives.
For skilled and enthusiastic people trying to secure a job in the environment sector we are able to provide short work placement programmes. Individuals are able to shadow our operatives, gaining valuable knowledge and experience as well as witnessing first-hand the industry standards required to be successful in gaining employment within the land-based sector.
By delivering tailored training to allow local people to assist with managing our waterways we are supporting local communities to be able to report problems on their river effectively. We are also helping people living and working close to the river to prepare for the worst case scenario, protecting themselves and their property in the event of a flood.
As part of our “three-point” approach to river management, we are keen to involve local land owners and businesses in our work; contributing financially to looking after their own stretch or a wider stretch of waterway or in kind by way of providing volunteers, expertise and other resources . Our team building days provide an opportunity for businesses to build and maintain good team relations whilst giving staff a memorable day out, getting their hands mucky on their local patch of waterway. We work with a range of clients including Environment Agency, Sheffield City Council, Groundwork Sheffield and Sheffield Homes.
In March 2012 nine volunteers from Meadowhall Shopping Centre in Sheffield joined a teambuilding clean-up exercise. Alongside six members of the River Stewardship Company and a number of other local volunteers, they cleared and planted a large area on the banks of the River Don.
Altogether the team planted 450 trees and other shrubs, enhancing the area’s appearance and improving its biodiversity. Their work also involved extracting a bike and shopping trolleys from the river.
The project was one of several biodiversity initiatives worth £12,000 in total, jointly funded by British Land and Meadowhall.
River Stewardship Company is a company limited by guarantee and registered in England.
Company registration number: 6759419. VAT registration number: 975669843