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Young volunteers needed to keep important heritage alive

Young people living in North Staffordshire and East Cheshire are being encouraged to get involved with a project that aims to teach a new generation important skills to protect the area’s heritage and keep traditional rural skills alive.

A team of young volunteers has already started work in the valley, as part of the vInspired Talent programme, working on the historic Caldon Canal, improving paths, carrying out surveys and getting stuck in to important work to tackle overgrowing greenery. Now the Churnet Valley Living Landscape Partnership (CVLLP) is calling for more young people in the area to get involved, help protect their local area and develop skills which may be of use in later life.

The volunteering is open to 16-25 year olds looking to gain experience of practical conservation work and make a difference to their local area. The Canal & River Trust, the charity that cares for the Caldon Canal and a member of the CVLLP has recently appointed a Youth Volunteer Coordinator who will work with the volunteers, planning a schedule of work and helping them to develop a range of new skills as part of an accredited training scheme.

As part of the project taster sessions are being run every Tuesday and Thursday to enable new volunteers to try their hands at tasks such as repairing and improving towpaths, creating wildlife habitats, painting locks, and removing invasive species.

The project forms part of the CVLLPs work to protect, enhance and celebrate the special landscapes of the Churnet Valley. Funding for the vInspired Talent programme has been received from the Cabinet Office and the CVLLP has secured funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Green & Blue Futures, a European-wide project focussed on managing nature sites, parks, open space, woodlands and waterways, to get even more young people involved. 

Keith Tomkins, CVLLP project manager said; “These are important skills that can play a part in ensuring this spectacular corner of Staffordshire remains amongst the Midlands most important rural areas.

“It’s a great opportunity for young people to reconnect with their surroundings, to get a greater appreciation of where they’re from and play their part in keeping it special.  It also gives them the chance to develop new skills, try something different and hopefully help them in whatever they go on to do next.”

The partnership is also on the lookout for more experienced people to act as ‘lead volunteers’ who will support the younger volunteers and give them guidance on a day-to-day basis.
Charlotte Atkins, chair of the Canal & River Trust’s Central Shires waterway partnership, said; “The Caldon Canal and the wider Churnet Valley are an important part of the area’s history and it’s important that we protect them for future generations. That’s why it’s fantastic to see a new generation of people getting involved in preserving the natural environment, built heritage and traditional skills that give the area such a wonderful character. I know that those taking part will also gain a tremendous amount as individuals and I hope that their involvement in the scheme will help them on their future paths.”

Anyone interested in the free taster sessions or to act as a ‘lead volunteer’ can do so by contacting Glyn Parkes at or 07920 765 590.