Riverlution Sheffield Stewardship Partnership

Sep 21, 2023

Who cares about our rivers and waterways? We do, and we’re inviting you to join us!

The River Stewardship Company’s (RSC) Community Interest Company, Riverlution by RSC is calling for local businesses to support a ‘riverlutionary’ new ‘Sheffield Stewardship Partnership Scheme’ that seeks to develop a unique connection between Sheffield businesses and communities.

There is a wonderful ecosystem running through the city and this pioneering project will provide local businesses with the opportunity to give back to our rivers by maintaining and enhancing them for generations to come. Its innovative programme of work aspires to help build a sustainable future for all and will give much to the people, rivers and wildlife of the region.

The scheme’s ‘membership-style’ concept will draw funding from local businesses to enable Riverlution to deliver a long-term, sustainable programme of channel maintenance and river restoration for the city. The funding will allow for the creation of a dedicated team to undertake ‘little and often’ maintenance works across all five rivers of Sheffield and its supporting watercourses.

The work will deliver the required maintenance to support the flood defence programme already in place, and keep our city’s watercourses in a position to ensure that the issues from high water events are not accentuated by accumulations of litter and debris or unmanaged vegetation. Thus, helping to protect the livelihoods of the riparian industries and SME’s that call the riverside home.

This unique partnership aspires to create a programme that riparian businesses of all shapes and sizes can be involved in whilst providing a wide range of benefits to stakeholders. From delivering environmental improvements, such as habitat restoration and removing invasive species, to creating local social impact through the training and development of river steward trainees and apprentices, the benefits of this collaboration of work will be seen across all the rivers of Sheffield.  The team will work every day to make the waterways litter-free, improving the habitat along the watercourses to encourage more wildlife and make the waterways a more enticing place for people to enjoy.

Supporting the River Stewardship Company and Riverlution to put in place an ambitious partnership working scheme on the rivers in Sheffield to tackle environmental issues, flooding, habitat improvement and issues of local significance is a key part of our objective - Tash Lyth, Sustainability Manager - Gripple Ltd.

Gripple Ltd River Clean Up Day supported by Riverlution Sheffield Stewardship Partnership - connecting Sheffield businesses and communities with it's rivers.

The RSC strives to make our rivers and waterways better for people, places and wildlife, and this partnership will empower the Riverlution team to support and give back to the many ‘Friends of’ and community groups who work tirelessly to improve their local river corridor and reach out to local communities to connect people with their local patch of waterway. Its intention is to continue to improve a connection with local community groups and offer support and assistance to help them improve their own river.  Riverlution will act as a co-ordinator for these different groups and ensure work reaches the whole of the river network. The rivers flow through Sheffield like a spider web, and so any approach to management should be city-wide and ideally catchment scale.

The scheme welcomes funding partners from both larger business and SME’s based along the city’s river corridor and beyond. Businesses on board can steer their involvement through a tiered range of practical benefits, from maintenance works plan for their local patch of waterway to corporate volunteer river days and in-house environmental talks to support and training for sustainability planning and more. But most of all it’s the opportunity to be a guardian of our rivers and take pride in our waterways and work together to make our city’s unique location and industrial history, a thing to be proud of again.

The Sheffield Stewardship Partnership is currently supported by core sponsors - Environment Agency, Gripple Ltd and Sheffield Forgemasters as well as other smaller supporters and partners such as the Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust.

Brendon Wittram, RSC managing director describes the justification for the scheme:  

During the last couple of years there has not been funding for routine river maintenance work on the Lower Don Valley section, resulting in the vegetation growing and businesses contacting us directly to undertake work on the riverside land.  By collaborating as a Sheffield wide partnership, we can fund a dedicated team to work on the rivers. We will be able to provide a wide variety of different works that will help reduce flood risk, maintain the various flood assets and help keep each river in good condition through INNS management and litter and debris removal.
Our management plans, created using a wide range of advice from local wildlife experts and river specialists, will allow us to identify opportunities where we can make real ecological improvements within the river corridor whilst also delivering flood risk reduction measures. This programme will aim to create a citywide demonstration of where flood risk reduction measures can be delivered whilst creating a river corridor full of life!

Geoffrey Guy, Riverlution Manager explains why the scheme is a pioneering model for public engagement:  

The Riverlution programme is totally unique featuring a groundbreaking blend of community, education and environmental outcomes. It’s city-wide and beyond forming a landscape scale approach to management of the rivers and riparian habitats, an approach that will maximise the benefits of the project for wildlife, flood prevention and communities. As well as delivering the basic channel maintenance works and ecological improvements, our Riverlution programme will encourage local businesses and communities to re-engage with their local waterway. We want to create a positive message about rivers and the benefits they have brought Sheffield.
We are delighted to have had a team of part-time operatives, both graduates of our river stewardship skills scheme, start working with us over the summer months to kickstart the partnership’s work and take on practical work across Sheffield including assisting the Don Catchment River Trust with habitat creation at Salmon Pastures, working on the pond and sluice gates at Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet, assisting with work at Kelham Island and other riverside work across the city.
Furthermore, we are looking forward to creating a new full-time team funded by the partnership starting in the coming weeks which means our ability to make an impact multiplies drastically. The additional benefit of this new team is the members of the team itself, some of them will be apprentices just starting their careers in river and waterway management who will gain a great deal from being embedded within the organisation and will gain a huge variety of skills throughout their participation in the partnership. The employment of apprentices and trainees, the running of volunteer days and the support of other riparian volunteer and community groups will deliver real social impact for the project.

Tasha Lyth, Sustainability Manager at Gripple Ltd expresses why they gave the scheme their support:

At Gripple Ltd as an employee-owned business, we recognise we have a responsibility to make a positive contribution to our local community and environment. Our objective to be a climate positive business includes supporting and delivering environmental benefits to the local communities of our Gripple sites worldwide. Supporting the River Stewardship Company and Riverlution to put in place an ambitious partnership working scheme on the rivers in Sheffield to tackle environmental issues, flooding, habitat improvement and issues of local significance is a key part of our objective. The partnership also provides training and progression opportunities for young people working towards careers in the environmental sector. The development of young people creates a ‘ripple’ effect of our future contribution as they go on to have a positive impact and influence of the environmental in the future. These positive outcomes are something we are very proud to support.

Join the Movement. Join the Riverlution. Why not get in touch to find out more about how your business can get involved in this pioneering programme.

Contact Geoffrey Guy, Riverlution Manager at | 0114 3540012 | 0775 7911814

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Employee checking the river