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Including adopting a section of the canal, community safety, volunteering, and community leadership.

The waterways support communities by:

  • Raising aspiration and achievement in local communities and encouraging people to be more active.
  • Presenting communities with the opportunity to take pride and ownership through volunteering and learning.
  • Raising the profile of volunteers who can assist in making places more attractive.
  • Giving opportunities for individuals and volunteers to develop leadership qualities.

The argument

The communities that waterways pass through benefit by valuing and taking pride in their section of canal.

“Most people like living, working and spending leisure time close to water. Inland waterways, with their banks and paths, give quiet permanence to Britain’s landscape as well as providing green infrastructure, which the Government believes is essential for attractive, environmentally sustainable communities.” 1. Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire communities are encouraged to adopt their section of canal, as has recently been done by Barlaston Parish Council. The Staffordshire Waterways Group has produced a spreadsheet giving details of all the parishes through which canals pass to help CRT Public Engagement Officers to develop this.


It is important to encourage people to use the canal towpaths safely, and to be aware of hazards associated with water. By restoring canal sections through towns and villages and maintaining them in good order we encourage people to visit more often, feel safer and stay for longer. If an accident does occur, a well-used towpath increases the likelihood of rapid assistance.


Inland Waterways Association (IWA) branch volunteers nationally carry out canal-related practical work party activities. There has been a steady increase in numbers locally over recent years with 390 volunteer days in 2011, 804 in 2012 and 1619 in 2013. By the end of 2014, the number of volunteer days in Staffordshire, according to at CRT’s recorded volunteer days, was 2396. This includes IWA volunteers as well as other society’s members working on CRT waterways. It does not include volunteers working on restoration projects which would add considerably to this total. Volunteers are capable of a range of activities, from rubbish and vegetation clearance through bricklaying and pointing to operating sophisticated plant such as dumpers and excavators. This website was produced by fifteen volunteers and took approximately 52 hours spread over 18 months.

1: Waterways for Everyone, 2009
Work party at CheddletonWork party at Cheddleton, Caldon Canal. Photo courtesy Waterway Images Ltd.