ENVIRONMENT Minister Thérèse Coffey visited Birmingham yesterday to find out more about the vital role that local people are playing in helping to care for and promote the city’s famous network of canals.
Dr Coffey met staff and volunteers from the Canal & River Trust during the visit to Birmingham’s canalside and historic Roundhouse.
The Minister heard about how the trust is working increasingly closely with local communities, helping them to look after and improve their local waterways.
Representatives explained some of the local initiatives that are taking place in the city to engage with young people and those from a variety of different ethnic backgrounds.
Dr Coffey also met volunteers from the Trust’s Explorers education team, who go into schools and teach youngsters about their local canal heritage and staying safe by the water, and took a tour of the historic Roundhouse next to the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal.
The Canal & River Trust and the National Trust are working together on plans that would see the grade II listed former stables and workshops rejuvenated into a community hub. The iconic horseshoe-shaped building is set to be used as a walking, cycling and canoeing hub as well as offering volunteering opportunities and a shared working space for conservation organisations.
During the visit Dr Coffey also heard about the Trust’s role in a planned waterside regeneration scheme at Icknield Port Loop. The proposed scheme, near Edgbaston Reservoir, would include housing, retail space and community facilities.
Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said: “Canals are an important part of Birmingham’s landscape and history, so it’s fantastic to see the Canal & River Trust’s projects bringing them back to life.
“The Trust’s work with the local community is educating young people about our nation’s heritage and I would like to thank them and all the volunteers for their hard work to protect Birmingham’s canals for future generations.”
Richard Parry, chief executive of the Canal & River Trust, said; “We were very pleased to welcome Dr Coffey and showcase the many ways that people are making a difference on their local waterways.
“In Birmingham, and across the country, our volunteers play an invaluable role at every level of our work from going into schools and helping visitors to practical works and making sure that the canal is a welcoming, appealing place. They’re real local heroes and it was fantastic that Dr Coffey was able to meet just a few of them.