Refugees volunteer to help with Kennet & Avon Canal makeover

Published: Thursday, 13 October 2022

A group of refugees from Afghanistan, Syria, Iran and El Salvador have been working with Canal & River Trust to transform the appearances of a bridge and lock on the Kennet & Avon Canal.

Bulls Swing Bridge volunteering 5Set to move

Having made excellent progress painting Bull's Swing Bridge and Bull's Lock between Newbury and Thatcham the group are now set to move onto revamping a nearby footbridge.

The opportunity for the refugees to join the network of the trust's volunteers, came from a suggestion from volunteer Karen Reeve who is also a lead coordinator with the West Berkshire Action for Refugees—a group in the local area who are providing support for the refugees who first moved to the UK at the start of 2022.

Not only are their voluntary efforts helping to improve this part of the Kennet & Avon Canal, but volunteering with the trust is providing the group with an opportunity to get active in the local community while learning new skills and developing their use of the English language.

Volunteering contributions

Caroline Kendall, Community Engagement Manager for the Wales & South West region explained:

“It's fantastic to have our towpath taskforce on the canal boosted by the brilliant volunteering contributions from some of the group from West Berkshire Action for Refugees.

“Keeping the canal in an excellent condition is an important part of our work, and to have this group of participants being keen to help in the local community, build their confidence in a new environment, and learn new skills along the way is wonderful to see.”

Rob Coles, Area Operations Manager for the east section of the Kennet & Avon Canal added:

“Working alongside our existing towpath taskforce volunteers, the group has done a fantastic job of refreshing Bull's Swing Bridge and Bull's Lock on a lovely section of the Kennet & Avon Canal.

“It is fantastic to have them working with us and we are looking forward to them continuing to contribute to some other exciting improvement works along the waterway."