The Conservation Volunteers has used funding from United Utilities to improve the River Mersey and the land around it in Trafford for the benefit of local communities.  

TCV’s project, Connecting with Nature, is focused on engaging people who would not typically visit these environments, including disabled people, young people, people from ethnic minorities and older people. Being outdoors and connecting with nature is great for improving health and wellbeing. 

Thanks to a United Utilities CaST account grant, TCV have been able to engage a wide audience of people in their local natural and water environments along the River Mersey.

So far, Connecting with Nature has enabled groups from Trafford One2One and Brentwood School to take part in a range of different environmental activities. Educational sessions included water quality surveying and visiting Sale Water Park’s flood defence system, as well as learning about biodiversity, the water cycle, and plastic pollution. Putting this new knowledge into practice, groups chose to improve the park’s biodiversity and cleanliness for the public to enjoy. This included activities such as litter picking, tree planting for flood prevention, and willow tit habitat improvement.

In collaboration with local artist Caroline Daly, participants chose to create a mural that reflected the biodiversity and wildlife found along the River Mersey. They painted a vibrant kingfisher mural on a rundown shipping container located in the car park at Sale Water Park. The eye-catching mural has transformed the entrance to Sale Water Park. The public continuously compliment the mural, which often sparks further conversation about the kingfisher and other wildlife present there, as well as their appreciation for this site of natural beauty. 

Ruth Crawford, Senior Project Officer for TCV, comments on the valuable impact this funding has had on the participants: 

‘It has been lovely to see participants connecting with nature. Disabled young people have really enjoyed making a difference to Sale Water Park, for example by planting their own trees and painting the container mural to share their love of nature with the wider community.’

James Airton, Natural Capital Strategy and Planning Manager for United Utilities, said: “It’s fantastic to see the difference the grant is making for TCV.  They’re a great organisation and really making a difference to how people engage with the River Mersey and its environment.”  

The United Utilities CaST Account encourages partnership working, bringing different people, ideas and actions together to improve more than just water quality.  Having trialled the approach with organisations in Lancashire and Cumbria, the water company rolled the project out across the North West and allowed organisations to bid for up to £50,000.  


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