a Wednesday morning. And, thanks to the Stonebridge Lock Coalition, that’s exactly what Tottenham News and a bunch of students did in Tottenham Marshes recently.
We were invited to attend one of the many events organised by the coalition which aims to improve the stretch of water extending from Tottenham Lock to Chalk Bridge. Having ‘adopted’ the canal the clean-up group of volunteers have now embarked on a variety of fun activities which anyone is welcome to attend.
“Local people who walk along it or use the canal really appreciate what we are doing here and you can see the difference we’ve made,” said Frances Dismore who co-chairs the coalition. “We do a lot of tidy up events and activities to help protect the wildlife and were recently awarded £20,000 to green this stretch of the Lee Navigation.”
Having been neglected for many years the waterway is now a far more attractive area to visit thanks in part to the work of the coalition. And it’s not just the riverbanks that have been cleaned up – Frances and her volunteers regularly take to the water to fish out rubbish that is not just an eyesore but a danger to the incredible amount of wildlife found in the area.
Joining a group of students from Waltham Forest College – there as part of their course – we gingerly lowered ourselves into a canoe; relieved to be sharing it with Adam Clarke, a more experienced canoeist and one of France’s regular volunteers.
“I love volunteering here and it’s really nice to have some connection to nature in the city,” he said, manouvering us upstream. “I try and come a couple of times a month and the activity I love most is river wading – when we go into the River Lea and pull out mattresses, shopping trollies and even mopeds! As a result we’ve improved the flow of the river and it also looks cleaner and there are now new things growing.”
Two hours later and we had filled a big tub full of plastic bottles, drinks cans and chunks of polystyrene. Over mouthfuls of Frances’ homemade pizza and cakes as our reward we wondered - why should more people volunteer?
“First of all it’s an opportunity to come and see how marvellous it is here,” she said. “We’ve had people go on adventure holidays and they come to the canal and they’ve said they’ve had far more fun helping us out in the river than they did abroad. And then you are also helping improve the area for the community and the habitat for wildlife. We have globally endangered animals living here in Tottenham and at a time when biodiversity is in decline it’s more important than ever that we play our part.”
To get involved and play your part email Frances at: firstname.lastname@example.org or find the coalition on Facebook.