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