Train with Thames21



Are you someone who loves your local waterway and wants to learn more about it?  Are you wishing to clean up and improve your patch but not sure how to begin?  We offer a range of courses that pass on the knowledge and experience we have gained through our delivery of hundreds of events each year.  We want to make it easy for you to make a difference.  Check out our training opportunities below:

Our Essential Training Course

Our foundational course, called Leading a Waterway Clean Up, is for people interested in learning more about waterways and why they are important.  The course contains everything you need to know to plan and run safe, effective and enjoyable waterway improvement events.

      Training June '15_2                Trainees at Day 1 of Leading a Waterway Cleanup

There is no obligation to actually run events once you have taken the course. Some take it simply for the learning experience.  But many do go on to assist our officers with Thames21-led events, and others lead events on their own with our support.  Our trainees have engaged in some exciting work over the years!

                           Clean Up Events led by Thames21 Trainees

How is the training structured?   Leading a Waterway Cleanup is a 2-day course open to all, including those who may not have any prior experience with environmental issues or with working around water.  We combine classroom sessions with volunteering so that you get the best possible learning experience. We also ask you to complete a small amount of written work.  Our course is certified by ncfe*, the national accrediting organisation and you will receive your ncfe certificate upon completion.  Having ncfe accreditation assures us that the content of our training is of a high standard and thoroughly prepares trainees to support and lead events on their own with confidence.

When do sessions take place?   We schedule sessions throughout the year in east, west and central London.  Typically sessions are on weekends but there are some weekday sessions as well. Trainees must take Day 1 before Day 2 but do not need to take them in the same series.  For example, you can take the Day 1 session offered in April and then, because of other commitments, not take Day 2 until July.  Or September.  Sessions are meant to be flexible.

New sessions for the rest of 2017 have just been scheduled!  DAY 1 SESSIONS:
Sat 1 July 10am – 3pm – Ragged School Museum, Mile End E3 4RR

Wed 9 Aug 10am-3pm – Thames21 Offices at Walbrook Wharf, City of London EC4R 3TD

Sat 23 Sept 2017 10am-3pm at the Welsh Harp Education Ctr, Brent NW9 8RY

Sat 15 July 10am – 3pm – Ragged School Museum, Mile End E3 4RR

Wed 16 Aug 10am-3pm – Thames21 Offices at Walbrook Wharf, City of London EC4R 3TD

Sun 8 Oct 2017 10am-3pm at the Welsh Harp Education Ctr, Brent NW9 8RY

See the bottom of this page for details on how to register for sessions.

We also deliver our Leading a Waterway Cleanup course to local groups who wish to be trained together.   To schedule something for your group, please arrange for bespoke sessions with the Training Officer by emailing

Welsh Harp 06.2015_small       


How can I use the benefits of the course?   After completing the Leading a Waterway Clean Up course, you can register with our Event Support Team (EST), taking on the role of assistant to our Project Officers during their events.  As an EST member, you will be helping us to run safe, effective and fun events in a variety of settings.  One week you may be working with a large corporate group on the Thames foreshore, the next week you might find yourself at a community event in a park along a London tributary. Find out more about our Event Support Team here

You can also decide to run your own volunteer clean-up events as one of Thames21’s Badged Leaders.  Badged Leaders will receive guidance and support from Thames21 to organise and run their own events.  We have approximately 20 Badged Groups operating across greater London and the possibilities are endless:  Some of our groups run large annual cleanup events every spring or summer.  Other groups run smaller monthly litter picks.  Some groups have succesfully received grant funding to buy their own kit or implement projects such as installing floating planters along their local waterway stretch!  Find out more about Thames21 Badged Groups here


Map of Badged Group events in 2016


How much does it cost?   The training is currently free for volunteers, with a Pricing Structure in place for volunteer managers and corporate groups. Please contact the Training Officer for more information


Other Training Modules:

Clean-ups are just the start. We want to help you look after the health of your waterways too.  We offer extra training modules to registered trainees, including the ones listed below:

Thames River Watch
The Thames River Watch project aims to provide crucial information on the health of the tidal Thames by enabling citizen scientists to undertake monitoring and data collection – from Teddington lock right out to Sheppey Island in Kent and Southend-on-Sea in Essex. We are looking for individual volunteers as well as people from community groups, schools and riverside businesses along the tidal Thames to join our citizen science volunteer team. As a Thames River Watch volunteer you will spend just a couple of hours each month to help us build a better picture of the health of the tidal Thames.

Interested in joining our team of citizen science volunteers? The first step is to come along to a free training session which will provide you with all the knowledge and tools you need to become a Thames River Watch citizen science volunteer!  Find out more about the Thames River Watch programme here

Our newest course: Vegetation Management in Your River Catchment

floating planters 04.15       floating planters      Thames21 has done a lot of work adding vegetated enhancements such as floating reedbeds and SuDS systems to London’s waterways.  Like any new enhancement to the environment, these need monitoring and care!  This course teaches volunteers about various vegetated enhancements in waterway catchment systems, including how each type of enhancement functions and what benefits each provides.  The course will also teach volunteers how to organise and carry out practical vegetation monitoring and management events.

Please note that in order to take this course, you need to have attended both days of our Leading a Waterway Cleanup course.

We are initially offering this course with a focus on the Lower Lea Catchment, but the course is open to trainees from all areas of London.  We hope to expand and focus on enhancements in other catchment systems in the future.

Veg Management sessions for 2017 are scheduled, see below!

VEG MGT – Sat 12 Aug 2017 10am-3pm – The House Mill, Bromley-by-Bow E3 3DU

VEG MGT – Thurs 31 Aug 2017 10am-3pm – The House Mill, Bromley-by-Bow E3 3DU

VEG MGT – Wed 27 Sept 2017 10am-3pm – The House Mill, Bromley-by-Bow E3 3DU


Invasive Non-Native Species Training

Giant Hogweed 1 Giant Hogweed 2


As you may be aware, Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) are an issue across London waterways.  What are they?  Why are they a problem?  What impact do they have on the environment?  This training will talk about how you can identify several locally occurring varieties of flora and fauna INNS and what you can do to help.

Please note that this course requires no pre-requisite courses to be taken.

Our INNS courses for the year have already run but please watch this space for future sessions.


Please see our events calendar for all of our upcoming training sessions.

To Register:

You must complete an online Registration Form before you can take any trainings with Thames21.

1)  Click here to complete the Registration Form, selecting your preferred sessions and dates at the bottom of the form.

2)  If you have already registered with us and are interested in signing up for another session, please fill out a Bookings Form by clicking here

3)  Await confirmation from Training Officer.

Training Policies:

You can view our training policies by following these links:









*NCFE have given formal recognition to our bespoke courses against a quality assurance framework matched to a range of recognised standards.

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