Train with Thames21

The Training Programme at Thames21 is funded by
City Bridge Trust

Are you are an individual who loves your local waterway and wants to learn more about making it better?  Are you part of a group wishing to clean up and improve your stretch of waterway but not sure how to begin?  We offer a range of trainings 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 a safe, effective and enjoyable waterway clean up event.

      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.  Many people take it simply for the learning experience.  But others do go on to lead their own groups and run their own events with our support after they complete the training.  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 and is 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 observation and volunteering activities so that you get the best possible learning experience. We also ask you to provide a small amount of written work to show your learning, but you will receive full support with this from the Training Officer.  Our course is certified by ncfe*, the national education accrediting organisation and you will receive your certificate upon completion.  Having ncfe accreditation assures us that the content of our training is of a high standard, that it meets the requirements of a national awarding organisation and that it thoroughly prepares trainees to go on to support and lead waterway clean up and improvement events on their own.

When do sessions take place?   We schedule open sessions throughout the year in three different locations: in east, west and central London.  Typically these sessions take place 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.  Please see our events calendar for upcoming 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

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

Welsh Harp 06.2015_smallQueen Caroline H&S talk 20.06.2015      

  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 corporate group on the Thames foreshore, the next week you might find yourself at a community grassroots event on 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 Group Leaders.  Badged Groups 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

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

Love the Lea Citizen Scientists

Love the Lea Volunteer Citizen Scientists spend a couple of hours a month carrying out water quality testing on sites throughout the Lower River Lea Catchment. The data volunteer testers collect supports Thames21 in its work to combat pollution and improve the condition of the River Lea.

The Training, which is aimed at both new Water Quality Testers and as a refresher for existing volunteers, will include:

• An introduction to Thames 21′s ‘Love the Lea’ campaign.
• Provide an understanding of the fundamentals of urban water pollution.
• Provide training in the practical skill of using simple test kits for water quality testing.
• Provide training in the use of Cartographer, Thames21′s on-line database where results can be uploaded and viewed.

The day will also be an opportunity to meet up, share experiences and look at the results of current testing efforts.

If you would like to book yourself a place on the training, please email


Invasive Non-Native Species Training

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As you may be aware, Invasive Non-Native Species 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 and what you can do to help.

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

More modules are being developed all the time to complement your core training with us.  Please watch this space for announcements of new trainings.

To Register:

You must complete an online Registration Form before you can train 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.