Volunteers to unlock the potential of Scotland’s canals

A high-profile campaign to recruit over 100 volunteers each year who will help safeguard the future of Scotland’s canals got underway in Glasgow today.

More than 30 volunteers turned out to repair mortar and operate locks on the Forth & Clyde Canal at Maryhill Locks during Volunteer Week 2016 as part of the ‘Canal Volunteers’ project. People with spare time are being encouraged to make friends, learn new skills and help ensure the nation’s biggest linear park continues to welcome millions of cyclists, walkers, boaters, kayakers and anglers each year.

Volunteers from Dell joined pupils from Kelvindale and St Mary’s Primary Schools to call for engineers, stone masons and joiners as well as lock keepers, archivists, marketing specialists and environmental experts to step forward and offer a few hours, evenings or weekends to help preserve the nation’s 250-year-old heritage assets.

A partnership between Scottish Canals, the Scottish Waterways Trust and the Lowland Canals Volunteer Group, ‘Canal Volunteers’ will build on many years of volunteering success by putting volunteers at the heart of Scottish Canals’ repair and maintenance programme for many years to come.

Steve Dunlop, CEO of Scottish Canals, said: “Volunteering has played a special role in the restoration and renaissance of Scotland’s canals, particularly in the Lowlands, but this is our commitment to ensuring local people get involved in managing and looking after their canals in a sustainable and productive way which helps everyone.

“Scotland’s canals contribute hugely to the nation’s economic, social and environmental prosperity. They also run through some of the country’s most densely populated communities. As such, it’s only right that local people are involved in safeguarding them for future generations to enjoy whilst learning new skills, getting outdoors and meeting new people.”

Scottish Canals currently works a handful of volunteers a year who do litter picking, lock keeping and citizen science, while The Scottish Waterways Trust, a charity that aims to create brighter futures for people and places across Scotland’s canals, works with 800 volunteers delivering 14,000 volunteer hours per year.

Tracey Peedle, Development Director of The Scottish Waterways Trust, said: “Volunteers are hugely important to helping us protect Scotland’s canals. The canal network extends to 137 miles across Scotland and there are always jobs to be done to help protect the canal heritage and make sure everybody can enjoy being on and around the canal.

“Through volunteering, people can really make a difference to the environment and heritage of their local canal. But it’s not all about the canal, it’s about people as well and providing a rewarding experience for all our volunteers. Whether it’s about learning new skills, getting outdoors and meeting new people or becoming more physically active and healthy, volunteering on the canals is great for people too. We always aim to make our canal volunteering fun and rewarding days out.”

The Lowland Canals Volunteer Group, which has been running since 2010 and was set up to harness the power of volunteering, has a history of contributing to the long-term sustainability of Scotland’s canals.

“Volunteers have played a vital role in the regeneration of the Lowland canals in the 40 years prior to the Millennium Link. The needs of the canals are varied and ever changing and we need a steady stream of volunteers who can safeguard one of our nation’s greatest assets.

“Our volunteers are passionate about the canals and they also have fun, meet new people, improve the local environment and learn new skills which have helped some on the first step to employment. So please get in touch if you would like to help, there is always a job to be done!”

Ronnie Rusack, Chair of the Lowland Canals Volunteer Group and one of the people credited with helping to re-open the Lowland canals in 2002

Anyone interested in volunteering along Scotland’s canals can register here.

Notes to Editors

Scottish Canals

Scottish Canals is responsible to the Scottish Government for the management and development of the Union, Monkland, Forth & Clyde, Crinan and Caledonian Canals. As well as the waterways themselves, Scottish Canals care for 251 bridges, 212 buildings, 256 locks, The Falkirk Wheel, The Kelpies and 19 water supply reservoirs in locations across Scotland. The reservoirs cover an area equivalent to 7,494 football pitches and supply the canals with the 332 million litres of water which flow through them each day. The Forth & Clyde, Union and Monkland canals in the Lowlands, the Crinan Canal in Argyll and the Caledonian Canal in the Highlands together extend over 137 miles from coast to coast, across country and into the cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness.

Built 200 years ago to fire the Industrial Revolution, today the canals contribute to the Scottish Government agenda of developing a Greener; Healthier; Smarter; Safer and Stronger; Wealthier and Fairer Scotland by acting as a catalyst for sustainable economic development, regeneration and tourism; contributing to education, biodiversity, heritage and promoting active living and healthier lifestyles. The Forth & Clyde, Union, Monkland, Caledonian and Crinan canals are recognised as Scheduled Monuments and attract 22million visits per year. For more information, visit www.scottishcanals.co.uk or follow @ScottishCanals on Twitter.

Scottish Waterways Trust (SWT)

Scottish Waterways Trust is Scotland’s only national waterways charity, creating brighter futures for people, wildlife and communities along Scotland’s canals.

By connecting people with the heritage, wildlife and green open spaces of the Scottish canals, SWT inspires people to get active, improve their health and mental well-being, employment prospects and community life.

Find out more at scottishwaterwaystrust.org.uk or at @ScotlandsCanals.

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