Our award-winning training scheme is creating the next generation of river stewards! We celebrated its achievements with an awards event marking the graduation of the first group of trainee stewards having completed the pioneering scheme, right here in Sheffield, the City of Rivers.
The River Stewardship Skills Scheme, delivered by Riverlution, is a unique educational initiative attracting a wide-ranging group of people from across the city, all looking to take part in a programme of river-based learning and practical work, to gain the relevant skills and qualifications that will enable them to move forward into careers in the environment sector.
The Riverlution team are proud to announce this ground-breaking scheme has been awarded the ‘Education Initiative of the Year Award’ at the South Yorkshire Sustainability Awards 2023.
The celebration event took place on Wednesday 27 September at Glide House, Sheffield and saw the first 16 graduates from the Sheffield-based schemes 2022-23, each receiving a certificate for completion of the 6-month programme from the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Cllr Colin Ross and RSC Managing Director, Brendon Wittram.
Two special awards were also presented to outstanding graduates on the night. ‘The Gripple Ripple’ award, sponsored by Gripple Ltd, for the person ‘Most likely to have a positive environmental impact in the future’, was awarded to skills scheme graduate, Suzanne Berry.
The ‘Not getting your feet wet’ award, sponsored by Ollyskins, was awarded to graduates Matthew Crawford and Kevin Leah for being named as the most ‘stuck in’ participants and the most likely to be found in a river!
Graduates Simon and La, who have both taken up new roles at the RSC and Riverlution, also took to the stage to talk about their journey from participant to employee.
Guest speaker on the night was Simon Ogden, Chair of the Sheffield Waterways Strategy Group, who talked about the history of Sheffield’s rivers, the progress made in their restoration and hopes for the future for Sheffield’s rivers and riparian areas.
The hands-on training scheme sees the trainee river stewards take part in a vast range of activities relating to river ecosystems whilst supporting the work of local community groups including - Friends of the Blue Loop, Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust, Don Catchment Rivers Trust, KINCA, Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, Tin Mill Fishery, Tyers Hall Farm and Friends of the Dearne. A similar programme of work has begun in Leeds in partnership with Canal Connections.
Along with the river community groups, the celebration event also saw representatives from Sheffield Forgemasters, Efficiency North, EN:Able Futures and Sheffield Chamber of Commerce as well as Cllr Ben Miskell, Chair of the Transport, Regeneration and Climate Policy Committee, in attendance. River themed music and entertainment was provided by Monkey's Fist - Maritime and Folk Band.
The first Sheffield-based ‘skills scheme’ was sponsored by Gripple Ltd, with subsequent schemes now being supported by the ‘Sheffield Stewardship Partnership’- a new River Stewardship Company and Riverlution initiative that aims to connect businesses with the local community and rivers - which is backed by founding partners Gripple Ltd, Sheffield Forgemasters and the Environment Agency.
Tasha Lyth, Sustainability Manager at Gripple Ltd, states why they have given their support to the scheme:
“It has been fantastic to see the participants do so well on the scheme and develop key skills that will support them in the next step of their career. Supporting schemes like Riverlution and the Stewardship Skills Scheme is an important part of our sustainability strategy which focuses on not just reducing our impact but ensuring we are contributing to our local communities around our factories. The long-lasting contribution participants can make now that they have completed the scheme will have a long-lasting impact on Sheffield and our waterways, the outcome of this scheme and all their skills will cause a positive ripple effect for now and future generations.”
Geoffrey Guy, Riverlution Manager is keen to share the success of the first skills schemes in the city:
"Celebrating the success of our trainee stewards was a really important conclusion to the latest river stewardship skills scheme. It gives us a chance to recognise the achievements of those who have taken part and celebrate their progression to work within the environmental industry. As well as a chance to celebrate this success, we also hope that the celebration raised awareness of the scheme so that more people can get involved and start off their careers in river stewardship with us.”
The River Stewardship Skills Scheme is a free training programme, taking place 1 day a week over a 6 month period, suitable for anyone wishing to gain practical experience in river management and work towards a qualification in environmental sustainability.
Since 2022, it's 16 participants to date have completed 2426 volunteer hours, with 3 graduates gaining employment with RSC/Riverlution, 2 now employed in a relevant environmental sector, 1 has progressed to relevant Higher Education and 13 graduates are continuing with various environmental volunteering opportunities.
Find out more about the River Stewardship Skills Scheme.