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Canal and Rivers Trust

Worcester and Birmingham Canal
Worcester and Birmingham Canal

In partnership with the Canal and River Trust the Sustainable Places Research Institute is investigating the public benefits of inland waterways in England and Wales.

Just one output of our partnership with the Canal and Rivers Trust was the development of a pilot programme aimed at getting young people from Leicester’s Somali community involved in learning about and caring for Britain’s waterways.

Research, led by Sustainable Places, found that Leicester’s ethnically diverse population is not reflected amongst those currently visiting waterways. Further investigation, focused on the Somali community, found low levels of awareness and understanding of how they can access and enjoy local waterways.

The project ‘Leicester Young Ecology Adventurers, was conceived and managed by the Somali Community Parents Association (SOCOPA),  and was formed to give young people aged between 11-14 years an opportunity to explore the natural heritage of their local canals, whilst gaining skills and experience in outdoor pursuits and conservation. The project focuses on the natural and cultural heritage of canals and the River Soar in Leicester, and aims to foster young people’s understanding of and care for it.

Further research will consider the programme’s wider impact, including changing perceptions of waterways amongst the local community.