The Blue Loop Community Project received funding from Natural England (Access to Nature) to engage local stakeholders in their local waterway. Coined ‘The Blue Loop’, this comprised the River Don (from Ladys Bridge to Meadowhall) and the Sheffield and Tinsley Canal, taking in the Burngreave, Attercliffe, Darnall and Tinsley areas of multiple deprivation.
The project’s vision was to take the Blue Loop into the local community and to bring the local community to the Blue Loop. A number of local schools, community groups, businesses and individuals were engaged during a 2-year programme.
- This included over 4800 engagements through educational visits and included the successful ‘Trout in the classroom’ project
- Over 10000 people engaged through guided walks, events, festivals, and volunteer days.
- Over 100 local people volunteered on the project, gaining generic, transferable skills and experience, as well as specific skills, experience and knowledge in health and safety, machinery use and practical waterway/landscape conservation and ecology.
After the initial 2-year project finished, additional ‘legacy’ funding was received to build on the initial project and to push sustainability beyond the legacy funding. A key output was the creation of the ‘Friends of the Blue Loop’. Set up in 2013, with the continued support of the RSC and Canal and River Trust, the group host volunteer days on the River Don and Sheffield and Tinsley Canal every Wednesday, and have successfully secured a number of grants to enable them to deliver additional projects. Another output was the creation of an education pack for schools, which allows them to carry out activities around the Blue Loop without the need for an RSC project officer.
River Stewardship Company has provided a suite of training, document templates, and brokered insurance and provides ongoing access to vehicles, tools, equipment and consultancy; all of which are vital to the continuation of Friends of the Blue Loop.