Canal charity launches partnership with West Midlands Police Cadets

The Canal & River Trust has joined forces with the West Midlands Police Cadets to help care for and maintain the canals across the West Midlands.

The partnership was launched in Wolverhampton with the cadets focusing their volunteer efforts along the Wolverhampton Locks Flight.

Consisting of 21 locks the flight carries the Old Main Line Canal from Broad Street to Aldersley Junction – a distance of two miles. The Mayor of Wolverhampton, Greg Brackenridge and colleagues from Wolverhampton Council, alongside senior representatives from the community engagement team at West Midlands Police came along to find out more about this initiative and how it can be expanded and developed in the future.

The cadets who are all aged between 13 – 18 years will work with colleagues from the Trust to help improve the canals for the thousands of people and boaters who visit every year. The cadets will be supervised and will carry out a wide variety of general maintenance tasks along the canal such as litter picking, painting, cutting back overgrown trees and bushes and removing graffiti.

Although crime on our canals is actually quite low, the team will also help develop a ‘Canal Watch’ scheme, a crime busting initiative which focuses on tackling the issues of petty crime along urban stretches of the region’s canals and help make people feel safer.

Once established in Wolverhampton the cadets are planning on branching out the partnership along the canals within Birmingham and the Black Country.

As part of the partnership colleagues from Canal & River Trust will deliver workshops to the cadets and help educate them on how to be safe when next to water, explain how they can help eradicate plastic pollution along the canal and how to cycle safely along the towpath. Aaron Atwal, area operations manager at Canal & River Trust, said:

“It’s wonderful to have the West Midlands Police Cadets on board helping us care for our regional canals and towpaths.

“At the moment we’re busy working to get our canals ready for the thousands of people who will use these green routes as part of the Commonwealth Games and with the cadets help, we should have our canals looking tip top for the start of the Games in 2022.

“The cadets will be out a few days a month helping with general maintenance and being our eyes and ears along the canals reporting any problems to us and West Midlands Police.

“This partnership will hopefully encourage young people to learn about the history of our canals and why, 200 years after they were built, they are still important places to visit and provide much needed benefits to our physical and mental health.”

Helen Fenton, cadet youth engagement officer for Wolverhampton, added:

“We’re delighted to join forces with the Canal and River Trust and are excited about the opportunities the partnership will give our cadets. It’s a chance for our young people to collaborate with the community, to really make a difference and demonstrate how they’re a vital part of our police family.

“The partnership will give our cadets unique experiences and the chance to learn all about the trust’s work. In return, they’ll be giving something back by helping to look after some of the beautiful spaces that can be found along the canal networks within our communities.”


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