The RRC is based at Cranfield University in Bedfordshire, within the Upper and Bedford Ouse Catchment, but as our information and advice efforts are spread across the UK, we often find that we don’t get to work in our own backyard as much as our staff would like to! Therefore earlier this year we were glad to be approached by the Catchment Partnership hosts, who were seeking to run capacity building training courses for their community volunteers and partners. The RRC provided technical support for five sessions:
- One indoor and one outdoor course for local community members in both Biggleswade and Leighton-Linslade, so they could assist in the work of the partnership locally; and
- A half-day outdoor training and planning session for partnership member organisations.
We were able to assist in the running of the courses through our work supporting UK trusts, partnerships and community groups, funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. Find out more here >>
Community training sessions
After meeting with partnership members to formulate plans and visiting the river reaches in Biggleswade and Leighton-Linslade, we began with the indoor volunteer sessions. Participants included local residents, anglers, volunteers and representatives of small community groups, all with an interest in the health of their local rivers. RRC gave presentations introducing river restoration techniques and case studies to show what could be possible in the local area. There were also presentations on the work of the partnership and the characteristics of the respective parts of the wider catchment.
A couple of weeks later, we then headed outdoors to lead riverside walks along the Ivel on Biggleswade Common, and the Ouzel in Leighton-Linslade. Walking the riverbank with participants, we talked through some of the key issues, potential restoration solutions, and viewed restorative works already completed. The sessions also provided an opportunity for the partnership to advertise future opportunities for volunteer involvement, including monitoring and in-stream enhancement works.
“It has been really interesting. It has provided food for thought as to what we could be doing in our local area. We are going to start doing some monitoring to identify the scale of the problems near where we live.” – Local Community Member
Partnership training session
We then returned to the Ivel and Biggleswade Common to walk the river with partnership members. Unfortunately the weather was not as generous as it had been for the previous sessions! However all persevered through the rain to enjoy sunny spells towards the end of the afternoon. As well as viewing and discussing the restoration works completed by the partnership host organisation Bedford Rural Communities Charity, and discussing best practice project delivery, the walk provided an opportunity for the partnership to reflect on what it had achieved to date, and the vision for the coming years.
In all 43 community members and 14 partnership members received training from the events, and we very much enjoyed the opportunity to view the restoration works, and spend valuable time with members of the partnership and their volunteers. Find out more about the Upper and Bedford Ouse Catchment Partnership here >>
|Martin (RRC) runs through some case studies at the Leighton-Linslade indoors course, hosted by The Greensand Trust at Rushmere Country Park||Discussions at the partnership members training course besides the River Ivel on Biggleswade Common|
Thanks to the Greensand Trust, Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity, the Environment Agency, and all other members of the partnership.