This week sees the start of volunteer training sessions for our new recruits at St Ives/Houghton and Northampton. On Monday the EA and Cambridgeshire ACRE staff met with 4 new volunteers and took them through the classroom element of their training in the morning – the basics of how the scheme works, health and safety and so on. After lunch we went down to Brampton lock – the weather was fabulous and the boating public obliged. A narrow boat and a cruiser went through the lock giving our volunteers the opportunity to assist both types of vessels and observe how they react in a locking chamber. Northampton on Thursday..
Environment Agency – Anglian Waterways Volunteer Scheme: by Roger Green, Volunteer
The EA volunteer scheme has really developed momentum this year, thanks to the co-ordination, management and support by Cambs ACRE.
16 volunteer lock keepers have been trained in 2018. This included classroom training on health and safety, operational procedures and how to deal with difficult customers! I am pleased to say that the later has been unnecessary!
Following this we had practical training at various lock sites, led by the River Inspector team. This ensured that those with no, or little, boating experience could quickly become confident and benefit from others with more experience.
My volunteering days have been spent mainly at either St Ives or Houghton locks. We work in pairs and tend to be available from Friday through to Monday. The Houghton and St Ives team consists of only 4 active volunteers, this means that coverage is not as extensive as we would like. Despite this we have helped 283 boats to lock though on our patch.Other volunteers operate during the season at the Denver complex and Northampton marina.
In addition to lock keeping we have been involved in ground clearance at Northampton lock island, helped to staff the EA stands Bedford and St Neots River Festivals. We proved useful by providing help and advice about licensing, facilities and boat ownership and assisting passages through St Neots lock before and after the festival.
We will be back in action at the locks in April 2019 and during the winter will be helping with several practical projects and joint training with EA staff.
This has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience, “working” outdoors, helping other people, (including the very needy stag and hen party day boats) and last but not least being thanked by the skippers and crew on every boat passing through “our” locks – truly wonderful!
At the thank you event held on 1 November volunteers were treated to a very hard quizz, a cake, a speech from the Waterways Manager, knot tying and making origami paper boats. An eclectic mix of activities but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and it was an opportunity for the Environment Agency to thank all their wonderful volunteers who give up their spare time to help them out. Roll on the 2019 boating season!
Yesterday (Wed 8 Aug) 6 volunteers and 4 Environment Agency staff took on the “island ” at Northampton marina – and won! This piece of land is a peninsula jutting out into the Nene just as boats approach the Marina and Northampton lock. It was overgrown and littered and needed a good clear up. It also needed opening up to view to try and discourage anti-social behavior.
Five Environment Agency Waterways Volunteers (plus their Cambridgeshire ACRE co-ordinator) met at Brampton EA office and car shared to Northampton where they met with a Northampton Volunteer and EA staff. After the essential safety briefing they headed out to clip back shrubs, chop down tree branches, hack at brambles and tussle with ivy. Large sections of bank were cleared and opened up and an enormous pile of cleared vegetation was created (to be chipped at a later date). It was enjoyable work and the cooler weather helped. There are plans to return…
As part of National Volunteer Week the Environment Agency have written a feature on the Anglian Waterways Volunteer scheme which you can read here.
Since January two new locations – St Ives and Houghton Locks – have joined the programme. The lock volunteering is kindly supported by Jones Boatyard at St Ives and the National Trust Houghton Mill by providing volunteer welfare facilities.
In February the recruitment programme commenced with 16 new recruits for St Ives and Houghton. (Eight new volunteers for Denver and two for Northampton have also been recruited.)
All the new recruits have completed their classroom training and are now undertaking their ‘on site’ training.
For a more readable version (!) click here: Newsletter Issue 2