Olympic-inspired river activities for young and old

London’s young and are old are being called on to get involved in a new campaign to improve the borough’s rivers and canals ahead of the London 2012 Games.

Volunteers of any age, ability and background can get involved in the Big Waterways Clean Up 2012 and make a practical difference to the city’s iconic waterways, which will frame the eye for millions of visitors to the capital this summer.

Residents are invited to take part in range of free, unique volunteering events including, kayak-based litter clean ups, wildflower meadows planting days, invasive plant species removal days and many more, inspired by the 2012 London Games.

Hackney resident and green living campaigner Natalie Madie said: “This is a great example of local volunteering with the emphasis on residents taking pride in their own surroundings and public space. As a Hackney resident who regularly enjoys exploringRegentsCanal, I’m looking forward to taking part in these events so our waterways can be enjoyed in all their glory!”

Campaign coordinator Ben Fenton said: “London is lucky to have a fantastic network of waterways which will be a central part of the 2012 Games, and this is a great opportunity for people to be genuinely involved in the process of making it, and our city an example for the world this summer and into the future.”

The Big Waterways Clean Up 2012, which was launched earlier this year in Hackney by Waterway Minister Richard Benyon, aims to involve at least 4000 Londoners in more than 80 events, transforming over 50 waterway locations along 30km of rivers and canals by July 2012 when the eyes of the world turn to the capital. Events will include walking waterway litter-picks, wildflower meadow planting and non-native invasive weed removal.

It has wide support from political, sporting and charitable groups and individuals, and is and being championed by Olympic rower and defending Gold champion Mark Hunter.

The campaign has been developed hand in hand with local communities and aims to allow as many people as possible to take part in and share in the green legacy of the London 2012 Games.

Andrew Altman, Chief Executive of the London Legacy Development Corporation, said: “The Big Waterways Clean Up is a great way for local people to build community spirit and improve their surroundings. The waterways will be an important part of life on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park after the 2012 Games so projects like these are an another example of how legacy plans are more advanced than any previous host Olympic city.”

The campaign aims to inspire and support the next generation to care for their water spaces, with planned hands-on ‘waterway discovery days’ and an education pack developed especially for school children.

Thames21’s training programme, which will run alongside the programme, will ensure the sustainability of the campaign, by equipping volunteers who want to lead their own events with the skills, confidence and support to do so.

The Big Waterways Clean Up 2012 is a partnership campaign, delivered by environmental charity Thames21 under the aegis of London Waterways Commission, with the support of Environment Agency, British Waterways, London Legacy Development Corporation, London 2012 Changing Places programme, the Greater London Authority, Port of London Authority, London Councils, City of London Corporation, and the Inland Waterways Association.

All equipment provided by Thames21. All ages and abilities welcome. Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult.

For more information on the campaign and to sign up see:
www.thames21.org.uk/project/bwcu or contact Ben: ben.fenton@thames21.org.uk/ 07920230970

A few upcoming events: (see all events here)

Regents Canal Clean Up
Wednesday, April 18

Free Narrowboat Trip
Tuesday, May 1
limited spaces

Create a wildflower Meadow with London 2012 Mad About Meadows
Wednesday, May 9
Hackney Wick

Notes to editors:
Big W­­­­aterways Clean Up 2012 partnership
The Big Waterways Clean Up 2012 is a partnership campaign delivered by environmental charity Thames21 under the aegis of the London Waterways Commission, with the support of Environment Agency, British Waterways, London 2012 Changing Places programme, Greater London Authority, London Legacy Development Corporation, Port of London Authority, London Councils, City of London Corporation, and the Inland Waterways Association.

Mark Hunter
Mark is a British Olympic squad rower and the reigning Olympic Champion in the lightweight men’s double scull. He was awarded an MBE in the 2009 New Year’s Honours list in recognition of his achievement.

Inspire programme
BWCU2012 is one of the outstanding projects granted the London 2012 Inspire mark, the badge of the London 2012 Inspire programme, which recognises exceptional and innovative projects inspired by the London 2012 Games.

London Waterways Commission

The London Waterways Commission (LWC) has been established by the Mayor of London to advise the Mayor strategically on waterways issues and to support the implementation of the Blue Ribbon Network policies within the London Plan.

Thames21 is the voice for London’s waterways, working with communities to improve rivers and canals for people and wildlife. It mobilises over 9000 volunteers every year to clean and green the capital’s 400 mile network of waterways.

British Waterways
In 2012 the canals, rivers, reservoirs and docks cared for by British Waterways in England and Wales will transfer to the ownership of the Canal & River Trust.  This represents the next exciting chapter in the history of the waterways.  When launched, the Trust will be among the largest charities in the UK.  It will give people a greater role in the running of their local waterways, secure investment in the historic network and open up new sources of income.

London 2012 Changing Places programme
The London 2012 Changing Places programme has been created to secure environmental improvements for the communities that surround the Olympic Park and other Games venues.  The programme is coordinated by the London Organising Committee but works closely with over forty organisations to deliver a range of inspirational projects.  For further information about the programme and our partners please visit the London 2012 website: http://www.london2012.com/making-it-happen/sustainability/changing-places/about-changing-places.php

The London Legacy Development Corporation
The London Legacy Development Corporation promotes and delivers physical, social, economic and environmental regeneration in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and surrounding area, in particular by maximising the legacy of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
It will secure high-quality sustainable development and investment and ensure the long-term success of the facilities and assets within its direct control and supporting and promoting the aim of convergence.
It takes over responsibility for the Park from the Olympic Park Legacy Company, and additional powers including planning powers from October 2012 from the Olympic Delivery Authority and London Thames Gateway Development Corporation. For more information visit: www.londonlegacy.co.uk/about-us

Environment Agency
The Environment Agency is an executive non departmental public body responsible to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Its principal aims are to protect and improve the environment, and to promote sustainable development. The Environment Agency’s involvement with projects such as the Big Waterways Clean Up 2012 is an example of its partnership work with other organisations to get a job done in priority locations such as East London, where the project is building on the environmental legacy work already achieved in preparation for the Olympic Games 2012.

Inland Waterways Association
The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) is a registered charity, founded in 1946, which advocates the conservation, use, maintenance, restoration and development of the inland waterways for public benefit.

City of London Corporation
The City of London Corporation is a uniquely diverse organisation. It supports and promotes the City as the world leader in international finance and business services and provides local services and policing for those working in, living in and visiting the Square Mile. It also provides valued services to London and the nation.

Port of London Authority
The Port of London Authority covers 95 miles of the River Thames. It works to keep commercial and leisure users safe, protect and enhance the environment and promote the use of the river for trade and travel.

For further information, interviews or images, please contact Emily Braham emily.braham@thames21.org.uk 020 7213 0166/ 07827 352 675.