Elmbridge Meadows Community Day – Hogsmill River

Elmbridge Meadows Community Day – Hogsmill River

Join us on Thursday 29th August for a day of river-themed family fun!

Come and learn more about the Elmbridge Meadows river restoration project at the SERT information stall or take part in one of our activities which include a river cleanup, kids crafts and a river dipping table.

Our stall will be set up at the entrance to Elmbridge Meadows, just off the roundabout at Elmbridge Avenue, and Raeburn Avenue. Nearest postcode: KT5 8EN. Google map HERE 

The river cleanup activity will begin at 12:30pm, finishing at 2:45pm. Some spaces will be available on the day but you can also book your space via our separate event listing HERE.

The river cleanup activity can be done from the banks or in the water, wearing waders. The activity will be supervised by SERT staff and we will provide all the equipment you will need. The activity is suitable for under 16s if they are accompanied by an adult. 16-18 year old’s will need to be accompanied or have written parental consent to take part (please email volunteering@southeastriverstrust.org for more info). No under 14s will be able to enter the water.

To read our Health and Safety Guidelines for the river cleanup that will take place during the open day, please click HERE.

There is no need to book for any of the other activities, just come along on the day.  

 

Please note that there are no toilets on site.

 

Photos and video footage will be taken at this event and used by the Trust for promotional purposes (including but not limited to printed materials, social media, newsletters and the website) and potentially shared with our external partners and funders. From time to time, external media agencies could also take photos, film or record our events.

The Trust’s lawful basis for processing this is “Legitimate Interests” under the General Data Protection Regulations. As an individual you have rights. If you wish for SERT to stop processing this data for you, please talk to a member of staff or email info@southeastriverstrust.org.

To read our Privacy Policy and see how we use and look after the information you provide when booking your spot at our events please click HERE.

River Cleanup at Elmbridge Meadows Community Day – Hogsmill River

Activity Description: As part of the Elmbridge Meadows Community Day, take part in a river cleanup to remove litter from the river and banks.

Rubbish in our rivers is a big problem. Not only is it unsightly, it also has a huge environmental impact; harming wildlife and leaking chemicals and pollutants into the water. If it’s not picked up, it often makes its way into our oceans where it is estimated it will persist for hundreds of years, damaging marine ecosystems and even ending up in our food chain as micro-plastics.

The river cleanup activity can be done from the banks or in the water, wearing waders. The activity will be supervised by SERT staff and we will provide all the equipment you will need. The activity is suitable for under 16s if they are accompanied by an adult. 16-18 year old’s will need to be accompanied or have written parental consent to take part (please email volunteering@southeastriverstrust.org for more info). No under 14s will be able to enter the water.

Meeting point: The SERT Information Stall at Elmbridge Meadows, near to the Rose Walk Nature Reserve, just off the roundabout at Elmbridge Avenue, and Raeburn Avenue. Nearest postcode: KT5 8EN. Google map HERE 

What to bring: Please wear appropriate clothes and footwear. If it is hot, please bring a hat and sun cream. There will be options to work from the bank or in the water in waders. We will provide refreshments but please bring a bottle of water.

Booking: please rsvp using the button below and complete the form to secure your spot. If the event is already fully booked then please sign yourself up to the waiting list and we’ll be in touch if a space becomes available. There will also be some spaces available on the day.

Booking for this event will close at 5pm on Tuesday 27th August.

Please email volunteering@southeastriverstrust.org to:

  • Find out more information,
  • Cancel your space if you can no longer make it.

To read our Health and Safety Guidelines for this event please click HERE.

Photos and video footage will be taken at this event and used by the Trust for promotional purposes (including but not limited to printed materials, social media, newsletters and the website) and potentially shared with our external partners and funders. From time to time, external media agencies could also take photos, film or record our events.

The Trust’s lawful basis for processing this is “Legitimate Interests” under the General Data Protection Regulations. As an individual you have rights. If you wish for SERT to stop processing this data for you, please talk to a member of staff or email info@southeastriverstrust.org.

To read our Privacy Policy and see how we use and look after the information you provide when booking your spot at our events please click HERE.

London Rivers Week 2024

Last week, we celebrated London Rivers Week by hosting four local events on our South London rivers, with 90 volunteers joining us to make a positive impact.

What is London Rivers Week?

London Rivers Week is an annual campaign that inspires the public to celebrate all of London’s rivers and the various projects that protect them. This year’s theme, “London is a River City,” focused on health, well-being, and cultural activities. Now in its eighth year, London Rivers Week continues to grow, uniting partners and communities to celebrate the abundance of rivers and waterways in London.

Cleaning up the Wandle

Cleaning the Wandle for London Rivers Week 2024

Volunteers from near and far joined us to clean up the River Wandle in Poulter Park. Their fantastic efforts resulted in the removal of a significant amount of rubbish, including tyres, a push bike, pots and pans, a huge sign, a few shoes, and some very gross cushions. A big thank you to Sutton Council for arranging rubbish removal and to Tooting and Mitcham Community Sports Club for letting us use their facilities!

Showcasing restoration on the Beverley Brook

We gave a tour along the Beverley Brook from Richmond Park to Wimbledon Common (and back again!) to learn about the history, ecology and river restoration work of the Beverley Brook. In 2015, we partnered with The Royal Parks to rehabilitate over 600m of the Beverley Brook through Richmond Park and improve the water quality of the river by implementing both engineered and nature-based solutions. This is one of our flagship projects and we love sharing it with the community and local partners – you can read more about it here!

Family fun at Elmbridge Meadows Community Day

Family Fun At Elmbridge Meadows Community Day

A fun-filled family day was the perfect opportunity for residents to find out how our Enriching Elmbridge Meadows project will re-naturalise 1km of the Hogsmill River. Our information stall gave more information on the river and the project, children enjoyed our craft activities and a small group got into the river in the afternoon to pull up the invasive plant, Himalayan Balsam. Some of our wonderful riverfly volunteers, who carry out monthly monitoring of river invertebrates, kindly gave their time to help collect river dipping samples and people of all ages took delight in seeing what actually lives in the river.

Bashing balsam on the Hogsmill Chalk Stream

We had an amazing turnout for a balsam bash on the Hogsmill with local volunteers joined by the Kingston Ramblers.

Balsam bashing on the Hogsmill River

Himalayan balsam is a big problem for river banks up and down the country. In addition to competition for pollinators, native plants must also compete for light, nutrients and space, leading to an overall reduction in native biodiversity. Moreover, the fact that the balsam dies back in the winter means that it leaves river banks bare and susceptible to erosion, and the dead leaves and stems can also cause blockages, which can lead to flooding.

What’s more, each plant can produce up to 800 seeds per year – and one plant can propel copious amounts of that seed a distance of up to seven metres!

We’re working with local partners to tackle balsam on the Hogsmill, planning events to eradicate the upstream source first and work downstream. We have also trialed biological control as part of the wider Enriching Elmbridge Meadows Project.

London Rivers Week is organised for the River Partnerships in London (RiPL) via the London Rivers Week steering group.  The principal organisations running London Rivers Week are the Environment Agency, Thames21, the South East Rivers Trust, London Wildlife Trust, ZSL, CPRE London, and the Thames Estuary Partnership. In addition to these organisations, many other groups run and contribute to events, walks, talks and seminars to demonstrate the value of rivers.

Another great year for the event, and we look forward to London Rivers Week 2025!

Elmbridge Meadows Community River Day in London Rivers Week

Join us on Sunday 23rd June for a day of river-themed family fun to start London Rivers Week!

Come and learn more about the Elmbridge Meadows river restoration project at the SERT information stall or take part in one of our activities which include guided walks, balsam bashing and crafts.

The guided walk will depart at 11am and will last 1-1.5hrs, covering a distance of 1.5 miles.

The balsam bash activity will begin at 1:30pm, finishing at 2:45pm.

There is no need to book for any of the activities, just come along on the day. Light refreshments will be available. 

Our stall will be set up at the entrance to Elmbridge Meadows, just off the roundabout at Elmbridge Avenue, and Raeburn Avenue. Nearest postcode: KT5 8EN. Google map HERE 

Balsam Bashing:

Balsam is an invasive plants that causes big problems for rivers up and down the country. The balsam bashing activity can be done from the banks or in the water, wearing waders. The activity will be supervised by SERT staff and we will provide all the equipment you will need. The balsam bash activity is suitable for under 16s if they are accompanied by an adult. 16-18 year olds will need to be accompanied or have written parental consent to take part (please email volunteering@southeastriverstrust.org for more info). No under 14s will be able to enter the water.

Please wear appropriate clothing and footwear (wellies or hiking boots) if you would like to take part a guided walk or balsam bashing.

Please note that there are no toilets on site.

The event is one of about 60 taking place during London Rivers Week 2024, which has the theme of London is a river city.

To read our Health and Safety Guidelines for the balsam bash that will take place during the open day, please click HERE.

Photos and video footage will be taken at this event and used by the Trust for promotional purposes (including but not limited to printed materials, social media, newsletters and the website) and potentially shared with our external partners and funders. From time to time, external media agencies could also take photos, film or record our events.

The Trust’s lawful basis for processing this is “Legitimate Interests” under the General Data Protection Regulations. As an individual you have rights. If you wish for SERT to stop processing this data for you, please talk to a member of staff or email info@southeastriverstrust.org.

To read our Privacy Policy and see how we use and look after the information you provide when booking your spot at our events please click HERE.

Six Acre Meadow Balsam Bash – Hogsmill River, in London Rivers Week

Activity Description: Join us during London Rivers Week at Six Acre Meadow to help remove the invasive plant, Himalayan balsam.

Himalayan balsam is a big problem for river banks up and down the country. In addition to competition for pollinators, native plants must also compete for light, nutrients and space, leading to an overall reduction in biodiversity. Moreover, the fact that the balsam dies back in the winter means that it leaves river banks bare and susceptible to erosion, and the dead leaves and stems can also cause blockages, which lead to flooding.

What’s more, each plant can produce up to 800 seeds per year – and one plant can propel copious amounts of that seed a distance of up to seven metres. This seed can spread considerably further if carried by the river, making it certain – if unchecked – to be more widespread year on year.

Meeting point: Meet at the entrance to the Hogsmill Open Space, just off Knollmead, Surbiton, KT5 9QN. Google map HERE

What to bring: Please wear appropriate clothes and footwear. If it is hot, please bring a hat and suncream. There will be options to work from the bank or in the water in waders. We will provide tea, coffee and biscuits but please bring a bottle of water and a packed lunch.

BOOKING ESSENTIAL – please rsvp using the button below and complete the form to secure your spot. If the event is already fully booked then please sign yourself up to the waiting list and we’ll be in touch if a space becomes available.

Booking for this event will close at 5pm on 23rd June.

The event is one of about 60 taking place during London Rivers Week 2024, which has the theme of London is a river city.

Please email volunteering@southeastriverstrust.org to:

  • Find out more information,
  • Cancel your space if you can no longer make it.

To read our Health and Safety Guidelines for this event please click HERE.

Photos and video footage will be taken at this event and used by the Trust for promotional purposes (including but not limited to printed materials, social media, newsletters and the website) and potentially shared with our external partners and funders. From time to time, external media agencies could also take photos, film or record our events.

The Trust’s lawful basis for processing this is “Legitimate Interests” under the General Data Protection Regulations. As an individual you have rights. If you wish for SERT to stop processing this data for you, please talk to a member of staff or email info@southeastriverstrust.org.

To read our Privacy Policy and see how we use and look after the information you provide when booking your spot at our events please click HERE.

Invasive species survey- training session

We are looking for volunteers to help conduct invasive plant species surveys along the Hogsmill, Beverley Brook and Wandle.

Invasive plant species such as Himalayan balsam and Pennywort have a detrimental impact to our waterways and we need your help to find and log them so we can target action to remove them.

This activity involves bankside surveys of stretches of river to map and record the presence and abundance of six key invasive plants.

The surveys will take place during June-July 2024.

As a volunteer, you can choose which stretch of the river and at what time to conduct the survey, within the survey period.

The survey will be conducted from the riverside path, in areas that are accessible and where the river is easily visible.

The training session will take place at:

Raynes Park Library, 21 Approach Rd, Raynes Park, London SW20 8BA

Google map HERE

BOOKING ESSENTIAL – please rsvp using the button below and complete the form to secure your spot. If the event is already fully booked then please sign yourself up to the waiting list and we’ll be in touch if a space becomes available.

Booking for this event will close at 5pm on Monday 3rd June.

Please email volunteering@southeastriverstrust.org to:

  • Find out more information,
  • Cancel your space if you can no longer make it.

Photos and video footage will be taken at this event and used by the Trust for promotional purposes (including but not limited to printed materials, social media, newsletters and the website) and potentially shared with our external partners and funders. From time to time, external media agencies could also take photos, film or record our events.

The Trust’s lawful basis for processing this is “Legitimate Interests” under the General Data Protection Regulations. As an individual you have rights. If you wish for SERT to stop processing this data for you, please talk to a member of staff or email info@southeastriverstrust.org.

To read our Privacy Policy and see how we use and look after the information you provide when booking your spot at our events please click HERE.

 

Elmbridge Meadows guided walk – Hogsmill River

Activity Description: Join us at Elmbridge Meadows for a guided walk to learn about the Hogsmill River and the upcoming river restoration project that will be taking place here in the autumn.

The walk will last 1.5hrs, starting at the meeting point and finishing at the A3. The route is linear (following the river) so the walk leader will be returning to the starting point once the walk is complete. You are welcome to head off from the A3 end point if you have travelled by foot or public transport and don’t need to return to collect your vehicle. The walk distance is 0.7 miles (or 1.5miles if you are returning to the start point).

Meeting point: Meet at the entrance to Elmbridge Meadows Green Space, just off Raeburn Ave, Surbiton, KT5 8AN. Google map HERE

What to bring: Please wear appropriate clothes and footwear. You may also want to bring a bottle of water.

BOOKING ESSENTIAL – please rsvp using the button below and complete the form to secure your spot. If the event is already fully booked then please sign yourself up to the waiting list and we’ll be in touch if a space becomes available.

Booking for this event will close at 5pm on Monday 10th June.

Please email volunteering@southeastriverstrust.org to:

  • Find out more information,
  • Cancel your space if you can no longer make it.

To read our Health and Safety Guidelines for this event please click HERE.

Photos and video footage will be taken at this event and used by the Trust for promotional purposes (including but not limited to printed materials, social media, newsletters and the website) and potentially shared with our external partners and funders. From time to time, external media agencies could also take photos, film or record our events.

The Trust’s lawful basis for processing this is “Legitimate Interests” under the General Data Protection Regulations. As an individual you have rights. If you wish for SERT to stop processing this data for you, please talk to a member of staff or email info@southeastriverstrust.org.

To read our Privacy Policy and see how we use and look after the information you provide when booking your spot at our events please click HERE.

Elmbridge Meadows Balsam Bash – Hogsmill River

Activity Description: Join us at Elmbridge Meadows to help remove the invasive plant, Himalayan balsam.

Himalayan balsam is a big problem for river banks up and down the country. In addition to competition for pollinators, native plants must also compete for light, nutrients and space, leading to an overall reduction in biodiversity. Moreover, the fact that the balsam dies back in the winter means that it leaves river banks bare and susceptible to erosion, and the dead leaves and stems can also cause blockages, which lead to flooding.

What’s more, each plant can produce up to 800 seeds per year – and one plant can propel copious amounts of that seed a distance of up to seven metres. This seed can spread considerably further if carried by the river, making it certain – if unchecked – to be more widespread year on year.

Meeting point: Meet at the entrance to Elmbridge Meadows Green Space, just off Raeburn Ave, Surbiton, KT5 8EN. Google map HERE

What to bring: Please wear appropriate clothes and footwear. If it is hot, please bring a hat and suncream. There will be options to work from the bank or in the water in waders. We will provide tea, coffee and biscuits but please bring a bottle of water and a packed lunch.

BOOKING ESSENTIAL – please rsvp using the button below and complete the form to secure your spot. If the event is already fully booked then please sign yourself up to the waiting list and we’ll be in touch if a space becomes available.

Booking for this event will close at 5pm on Tuesday 2nd July.

Please email volunteering@southeastriverstrust.org to:

  • Find out more information,
  • Cancel your space if you can no longer make it.

To read our Health and Safety Guidelines for this event please click HERE.

Photos and video footage will be taken at this event and used by the Trust for promotional purposes (including but not limited to printed materials, social media, newsletters and the website) and potentially shared with our external partners and funders. From time to time, external media agencies could also take photos, film or record our events.

The Trust’s lawful basis for processing this is “Legitimate Interests” under the General Data Protection Regulations. As an individual you have rights. If you wish for SERT to stop processing this data for you, please talk to a member of staff or email info@southeastriverstrust.org.

To read our Privacy Policy and see how we use and look after the information you provide when booking your spot at our events please click HERE.

Chamber Mead wetland community planting day – Hogsmill River

Activity Description: Join us at the recently constructed Chamber Mead wetland to help plant a range of native wetland plants. Once established, these plants will help to filter pollutants from the water and will provide food, shelter and habitat for local wildlife.

Meeting point: Meet at the entrance to Chamber Mead, just off Green Lanes, Ewell, KT19 9SZ. Google map HERE

What to bring: Please wear appropriate clothes and footwear. The site may be very muddy, you might wish to wear your own walking shoes/wellies but we might be working in shallow water and will provide wellies and waders if required. We will provide tea, coffee and biscuits but please bring your own lunch and water.

BOOKING ESSENTIAL – please rsvp using the button below and complete the form to secure your spot. If the event is already fully booked then please sign yourself up to the waiting list and we’ll be in touch if a space becomes available.

Booking for this event will close at 5pm on Friday 26th April.

Please note: The event may finish early if all of the plants have been planted!

Please email volunteering@southeastriverstrust.org to:

  • Find out more information,
  • Cancel your space if you can no longer make it.

To read our Health and Safety Guidelines for this event please click HERE.

Photos and video footage will be taken at this event and used by the Trust for promotional purposes (including but not limited to printed materials, social media, newsletters and the website) and potentially shared with our external partners and funders. From time to time, external media agencies could also take photos, film or record our events.

The Trust’s lawful basis for processing this is “Legitimate Interests” under the General Data Protection Regulations. As an individual you have rights. If you wish for SERT to stop processing this data for you, please talk to a member of staff or email info@southeastriverstrust.org.

To read our Privacy Policy and see how we use and look after the information you provide when booking your spot at our events please click HERE.

SERT is committed to becoming a more inclusive, equal and diverse organisation. We value people as individuals with diverse opinions, cultures, lifestyles and circumstances. This applies to our event attendees and volunteers as well as all our staff, trustees and job applicants. To help us maintain accurate data about who is coming to our events, we would be grateful if you would spend a couple of minutes completing our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Questionnaire by clicking HERE. Completing this form is voluntary, and any data you submit will be held securely and only used for the purpose of monitoring our organisational profile.

New Chamber Mead wetlands brings fresh hope for Hogsmill  

The South East Rivers Trust (SERT) has completed the construction of a 2,000m2 pollution filter which will bring major benefits to the Hogsmill chalk stream.

When planting takes place in the spring, the newly constructed Chamber Mead wetland will protect and improve 5km of river downstream, filtering pollutants and becoming a haven for wildlife. 

Chamber Mead wetlands during construction
The wetlands took shape during several months of construction

The project has been carried out in partnership with Epsom & Ewell Borough Council, which owns and manages the Hogsmill Local Nature Reserve, a popular greenspace which will now benefit from this new community asset. 

The wetland is a crucial project for the Hogsmill, which suffers adversely from pollution such as urban road runoff, raw sewage discharges and misconnected plumbing that sends drain water directly into the river.  

Water from the Green Lanes Stream has been diverted through a sediment trap and two wetlands. Filtered, cleaner water is then reconnected to the Hogsmill downstream of the famous Stepping Stones. 

News about the wetland’s completion comes in the week of World Wetlands Day, on Friday 2nd February. 

Dr Bella Davies, Co-CEO of SERT, said: “We are delighted that the construction phase of this important wetlands project has now been completed. It is destined to become a jewel in the crown of the Hogsmill Local Nature Reserve. The public has shown great enthusiasm for this project, and we will soon be calling on volunteers and community groups to add the plants that will really make the wetlands flourish as a magnet for wildlife. The water quality improvements that will result from the wetlands are designed to help the river become a healthier place for all, especially wildlife that thrive in a chalk stream, such as brown trout.” 

Councillor John Beckett, Chair of the Environment Committee at Epsom & Ewell Borough Council, said: “The council is committed to protecting and enhancing biodiversity in our borough, as per our Biodiversity Action Plan 2020-30.  This partnership project with the South East Rivers Trust will help to ensure that the Hogsmill Local Nature Reserve is a place where nature can thrive; from woodpeckers, hedgehogs and bats – to species whose numbers have dwindled such as water voles, fish and eels. We know our residents cherish this Local Nature Reserve and I hope that many can join the community planting days, which are a unique opportunity to be part of this fantastic project.” 

Michele Cooper, Environment Agency Catchment Coordinator, added: “In partnership with local communities, the Environment Agency is investing millions in chalk stream restoration projects across the country to foster more sustainable abstraction, tackle pollution from agriculture and the sewage system, and restore more natural processes.

“Chalk streams are precious habitats, havens for wildlife and highly valued by local communities and visitors alike. Together with our partners, we also continue to work hard to protect and enhance wetland habitats to benefit people and nature. Their future depends on collective action and this partnership project is therefore a much needed and welcome step towards addressing the many pressures these rare watercourses face.”

Part of the 2000m2 wetlands at Chamber Mead
The construction of the 2000m2 wetlands at Chamber Mead has been completed

SERT is now preparing a series of community planting days, to take place in the Spring. These will give residents the chance to plant the vegetation to help the wetlands counter pollutants.  

Schools, community groups and residents will be given opportunities to install plants that have been specifically selected to filter pollution, trap sediments and attract a variety of wildlife. Plants selected include yellow flag iris, ragged robin, purple loosestrife and brooklime.  

In time, SERT will also offer guided walks and outdoor education sessions for school children. A nature trail is planned for families to interact with the wetlands as they develop, alongside information boards which will detail the reasons why the wetlands were needed and the types of wildlife that should be attracted. 

The construction was carried out with Five Rivers environmental specialists.

Supported by the Hogsmill Catchment Partnership, the project has received funding from The Coca-Cola Foundation, Natural England (through the Species Recovery Programme), the Environment Agency, Surrey County Council, the Rivers Trust, the Zoological Society of London, Garfield Weston Foundation and Thames Water, with in-kind support from the landowner Epsom & Ewell Borough Council. The new wetlands are part of the wider Replenish programme in partnership with the Coca-Cola Foundation and the Rivers Trust. The aim of Replenish is to restore millions of litres of water in this and other local catchments, in turn improving biodiversity. 

 

The Chamber Mead wetland
The Chamber Mead wetland will become a ‘jewel in the crown’ of the Hogsmill Local Nature Reserve

Cast your vote at Tesco to help us educate children on the Mole

Shoppers at selected Tesco stores in Horley and Dorking can vote to support the South East Rivers Trust’s (SERT) programme to connect local children with the River Mole and its wildlife.

SERT’s school sessions bring children to their local river to spend time in nature and learn about the local wildlife – all while meeting the school’s needs for the curriculum.

Children explore what's in the river and record their findings in a session led by the South East Rivers Trust on the River Mole © SERT
Children learn about what’s in the river at a South East Rivers Trust session on the River Mole © SERT

Studies show that children who are connected to nature are happier, healthier and more motivated to learn – and feedback on our sessions shows the power of outdoor education.

One teacher said: “The session was a fantastic way to introduce the children to our rivers topic, the delivery and the content was engaging and the children had an absolute blast!”

A pupil added: “I loved making a promise to make sure that the river will keep flowing and not dry up!”

Polly Penn, Head of Working with Communities at the South East Rivers Trust, said: “We are delighted to have been chosen as a Tesco Stronger Starts community project because we know from our education sessions that children love the chance to visit the river. They are always inspired by being able to see for themselves the creatures they have learned about in the classroom.

“Our aim is that this and our lessons about how to use water wisely in their daily lives will instil lifelong habits – and might even inspire some of them to become scientists in the future. We hope shoppers will take this opportunity to support our work.”

Customer votes will decide how three chosen charities will receive awards of £500, £1,000 or £1,500.

The three stores where customers can vote for SERT, between mid-January and the end of March 2024, are:

  • Tesco Gatwick Extra, Reigate Road, Horley RH6 0AT
  • Tesco Express, Brighton Road, Horley RH6 7HL
  • Tesco Express, Reigate Road, Dorking RH4 1QB

Tesco’s Stronger Starts – previously known as Tesco Community Grants – has already provided more than £110 million to 60,000 projects across Britain.

Children explore what's in the river and record their findings in a session led by the South East Rivers Trust
Children explore what’s in the river and record their findings in a session led by the South East Rivers Trust © SERT

This £5m Stronger Starts grant programme, delivered in partnership with Groundwork UK, helps schools and children’s groups provide nutritious food and healthy activities that support young people’s physical health and mental wellbeing, such as breakfast clubs or snacks, and sports equipment for after school clubs.

Claire de Silva, Tesco UK Head of Communities and Local Media, said: “Helping schools and children’s groups access the food and resources they need is vitally important in getting children a stronger start in life. Children with enough food have more energy, better concentration, and ultimately achieve more too.”

Graham Duxbury, Groundwork’s UK Chief Executive, said: “As a community charity, we have seen first-hand how schools and other groups supporting young people have been playing a much bigger role in ensuring children are getting a healthy start to the day and getting access to spaces and services to support physical activity and mental health. Family budgets are tight and school budgets are tight, but it’s so important that children stay fed, fit and focused, so we’re delighted to be able to prioritise these activities alongside Tesco with the Stronger Starts programme.”

Funding is available to community groups and charities looking to fund local projects that bring benefits to communities, particularly those helping to provide food and giving children the support they need for a good start in life.

 

Three actions to take after watching Swimming in Sewage

At the start of October, the South East Rivers Trust appeared on Channel 5’s documentary about sewage in our rivers. The programme demonstrated the extent of the problem nationwide, quoting swimmers and environmental campaigners. Below is a snippet of our involvement in highlighting the issues – and three actions you can take.

A combined sewer overflow
Dr Chris Gardner shows Michaela Strachan a combined sewer overflow © TurquoiseTV

“The soft sediment underneath – I think you can imagine what it’s made up of,” remarked Dr Chris Gardner to TV presenter Michaela Strachan during Swimming in Sewage: Britain’s Water Scandal.

Our Head of Science and Partnerships was describing what lies at the bottom of the River Hogsmill right next to a Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO), an  mechanism that sends raw sewage into rivers during heavy rainfall.

Aired on October 4, the documentary highlighted the effects of sewage being regularly pumped into our rivers, up and down the country. Rivers that were once clean to swim in are now full of what we flush down the loo, causing health issues for those unaware that raw sewage is being sent into them regularly, from these CSOs.

These pipes were designed to stop sewage backing up into homes during heavy rainfall, when sewage treatment works could not cope with the amount of waste and excess rainfall coming from urbanised environments. These single pipes combine waste water from our homes and businesses and surface water. They are supposed to be in operation sparingly. Last year, 15,000 CSOs across the country spilled water into our rivers for 2.5 million hours, the programme reported.

Chris Gardner and Michaela Strachan on the Hogsmill, for the Channel 5 Documentary Swimming in Sewage. Turquoise TV
Chris Gardner and Michaela Strachan on the Hogsmill, for the Channel 5 Documentary Swimming in Sewage. © Turquoise TV

Chris had given Michaela a tour of a clean looking section of the Hogsmill. One of only 210 chalk streams in the world, its clear water – filtered through springs – provides a superb environment for aquatic life.

But as Chris took the presenter to the confluence of where the river meets the Green Lane stream on the River Hogsmill, the colour of the water suddenly became much more murky. The cameras showed dirt and sediment on the riverbed.

Dressed in waders, the pair moved to the site of a CSO, where Chris pointed to clear signs of it sending sewage into the river very recently – most likely the night before when it had rained.

Investment needed

Michaela, recoiling at the thought of raw sewage in this rare chalk stream which should be rich in minerals, asked what could be done?

Chris replied: “We need to invest in the sewage works infrastructure. For the past few decades we haven’t had the investment to keep up with the population growth. We also have climate change and more intense rainfalls.”

Many of the sewers have been around since Victorian times, so Michaela also wanted to know if it was possible to upgrade them?

“There certainly is a technical challenge,” replied Chris, “but we put people on the moon with [what is now] the computer power of a pocket calculator 50 years ago so, surely, we can upgrade our sewage works to the standards required.”

Our Chamber Mead wetlands project, which began in late August, is very close to where the filming took place. The wetlands will help to divert water from road run-off and urbanised pollution away from the Hogsmill. It will divert the Green Lanes stream – as seen in the documentary – into a series of new wetlands and project 200 metres of this chalk stream.

But what can you do to help protect rivers from sewage and pollution?

First, you can demand action from your Water Company. The programme’s airing could not have been more timely, coming just after water companies submitted their business plans for 2025-30 to Ofwat. Our recent blog looks at these plans and urges you to sign up to your water company’s online session, where you can question them about the details. These take place before the end of November. Are their timetables for addressing this urgent problem of sewage fast enough? How will they upgrade infrastructure? What nature-based solutions in urban areas are they planning to combat water, combined with sewage, rushing into our rivers all at once during heavy rainfall?

Second, you can sign the Rivers Trust’s Nature2030 campaign, asking all political parties to make five nature pledges in their manifestos ahead of a General Election, which many expect to take place next year. This asks that the “polluter pays” and for a Natural Nature Service, to protect our environment.

Third, you can back the Rivers Trust’s call to end the #ChemicalCocktail polluting all our rivers. This letter to the Government asks for several protections to be included for rivers in the Chemical Strategy.