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Our 2015 WatersideCare Volunteer Network Event took place Wednesday 13 May 2015, at The Black Country Living Museum in Dudley (near Birmingham) www.bclm.com.
The day was a way of saying a big thank you to the volunteers who look after their local waterway so effectively.
The event was attended by 55 people from WatersideCare groups across the Midlands, together with support from the Environment Agency, Severn Trent, Keep Britain Tidy and the Canal & River Trust, the organisations who help to fund the project.
WatersideCare Project Officer, Les Warren, provided a look back at 2014, highlighting the achievements of the project in the past year and over the life of the project.
This was followed by presentations from the Friends of Bilbrook in Birmingham and the Maun Conservation Group from Mansfield. Both presenters stressed the importance of the support they receive from the project officers and the need to work with local partners.
Since the project began in 2011, the groups have collected over 4300 bags of rubbish, accrued over 17,400 hours of volunteering, worth over £150,000 and arranged over 900 activities on their local waterway.
There are now 50 WatersideCare groups in the Midlands, an increase of 15 in the last twelve months.
The Environment Agency provided details of the new campaign “Check-Clean-Dry” which helped to show volunteers the dangers of unintentionally spreading non-native species from one waterway to another. They also brought along with them the Fluvial Table to illustrate how engineering can alter the way rivers and streams flow and how this can affect wildlife
The group was divided into four sub groups to discuss how WatersideCare can continue to develop and take on the challenges set by volunteers as part of the recent market research carried out into the impacts of the project and the groups.
The afternoon was spent exploring the Black Country Living Museum, including a canal trip through the mine tunnels courtesy of the Dudley Canal Trust.
Della Hemming from the Friends of Bilbrook said “Today has been a huge success and I know I am not alone in feeling inspired and encouraged by meeting with like-minded people.”
Graham Andrews, representing the Friends of Ley Hill Park also thought the event was inspiring, “It was a very interesting and stimulating morning and in the afternoon the tour and food at the museum was brilliant.
“I made loads of notes on ideas suggested by the meeting. Now I have to sit down and ponder which ideas to use and how to carry them forward.”
The Project Officers will now take the ideas forward and discuss how a plan can be developed to better support WatersideCare groups and encourage more people to form groups to help to look after their local waterway.
Keep Britain Tidy is a registered Charity No. 1071737. Registered as a Company limited by guarantee in England & Wales No. 3496361. Registered office at Elizabeth House, The Pier, Wigan, WN3 4EX.
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