Isolation to Inclusion partners pay a visit to The Canal & River Trust in Leeds and Nottingham.

In September, partners in the From Isolation to Inclusion (I2I) project visited Leeds and Nottingham to learn more about the work of Canal & River Trust; the project’s UK partner that works with volunteers and communities across England and Wales to transform canals and rivers into spaces where local people want to spend time and feel better.

 

Better connections in blue spaces

Nottingham is ranked the 11th most deprived district in the UK and has worse outcomes than the national average for deprivation and older people living alone. It is known that deprivation and poor health outcomes are closely interlinked. More than 9 million people in the UK say they often or always feel lonely. Those with poorer health are also more likely to experience loneliness.

Councillor Nicola Heaton, the Sheriff of Nottingham, welcomed project partners on day 1. “Research shows that the positive effects of meaningful connections are even greater in green and blue spaces. Our canals run through some of our most afflicted areas. The Canal & River Trust is ideally placed to help, and From Isolation to Inclusion form a crucial part of this journey, making a difference for those in our communities that are most isolated and lonely”

“Research shows that the positive effects of meaningful connections are even greater in green and blue spaces. Our canals run through some of our most afflicted areas. The Canal & River Trust is ideally placed to help, and From Isolation to Inclusion form a crucial part of this journey, making a difference for those in our communities that are most isolated and lonely”

Double service

Many of the former industrial centres in the UK are situated along the country’s waterways. As the industry took on other forms, many of these areas sank into poverty. More than half of England and Wales’ network of canals and waterways rivers run through urban areas, in both small towns and larger cities. Many of these places are afflicted with higher-than-average deprivation.

Canal & River Trust works with volunteers and communities – creating social cohesion and meeting places and helping the Trust to transform canals and rivers into spaces where people want to spend time. I2I provides an excellent opportunity to reach out and connect, to demonstrate the benefits of waterways.

Packed programme

I2I partners spent one day in Nottingham and one day in Leeds. On the agenda was both workshop and discussions, as well as several presentations from, among others, The Campaign to End Loneliness, https://www.campaigntoendloneliness.org/ the Nottingham City Council, the Wolfpack project https://thewolfpackproject.org.uk/, the Nottingham Social Prescriber & Community Connector, the art therapist www.inspirativearts.co.uk​ facilitating the I2I Arts & Craft sessions.

In Leeds on Day 2 visitors travelled to Kirkstall Forge New Homes in Leeds, Different by Design – Kirkstall Forgeby the River Aire and met the local arts and crafts ‘community knitting’ group “Hookers and clickers” who I2I has previously worked with as part of a winter walk. yarnbombing a part of the canal The group also heard about the work being done in partnership with the rail operator Northern to encourage people to get out and about to pleasant places like this. The I2I group indeed saw this for themselves on a walk along the river – where by chance they encountered a member of the Leeds Canal Crew (set up through I2I) who said what a hugely positive effect getting involved with this group had had on him.