Volunteer for rivers

We want people to enjoy rivers as much as we do. One great way to do this is to volunteer on your local river, joining our team of 500+ volunteers working in many different ways to bring rivers back to life.

Volunteering has many benefits beyond the positive impact you leave on the environment.

By volunteering with us, you will have the opportunity to:

  • learn new practical skills such as invertebrate identification or habitat management
  • meet like-minded people, becoming part of a new community
  • exercise in the fresh air
  • reap the wellbeing benefits of spending time in nature
  • add something special to your CV

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Removing a trolley from the Wandle © The Burly Photographer

What do our volunteers say?

“The opportunity to volunteer with such scientific, environmental and yet friendly expertise has been inspiring and fun.”

“It’s wonderful being outdoors working with like-minded people to clean up our environment and do something for nature.”

“The river cleanups are tremendous fun and we always see lots of rubbish removed from the river.”

“Volunteering is a chance to get out of the house and to meet people, to do something that keeps you fit. At the end of the event you can see the difference. The river looks visibly better.”


Volunteers © The Burly Photographer

Join the Team!

  • Citizen scientists


  • Volunteer hours dedicated to rivers


  • River Guardians


Practical events

We run a range of practical volunteering events each year – a great way to help your local river while experiencing something new.

You could join us at a river cleanup to help tackle plastic pollution and fly-tipping. Or take part in invasive species management, freeing a river from problematic plants like Himalayan balsam and floating pennywort. You could even work with us to restore a section of river, adding in important natural habitat features to support wildlife.

Explore events near you

Habitat management © South East Rivers Trust

Become a River Guardian

Becoming a River Guardian involves adopting a stretch of river that you visit regularly. After all, who knows the river better than the people who visit it every day?

While the scheme is currently seeking funding to continue, we have run this chance to volunteer on the Hogsmill, Wandle and Beverley Brook in South London. It was also introduced to the River Medway during the Preventing Plastic Pollution Project between 2020 and 2023.

We provided the tools and knowhow to enable volunteers to make a positive difference towards improving their local river’s health. Simple tasks such as collecting litter and reporting pollution incidents can make a big difference.

© South East Rivers Trust


Riverfly monitoring is a national citizen science scheme that trains volunteers to monitor riverflies (aquatic invertebrates) as an indication of water quality.

Volunteers receive training with us and then join a team of like-minded individuals to sample a local spot on the river each month.

The data from the scheme helps us keep an eye on the health of our rivers, and highlights when there may be a more serious problem to address.

We run riverfly monitoring schemes on several of our rivers in the south east.

© South East Rivers Trust

Outfall Safari

Our Outfall Safari volunteers are trained to systematically survey the entire length of a river to identify and locate misconnected outfalls that are polluting our streams.
This allows the pollution to be reported to Thames Water and the Environment Agency so that it can be tackled.
Volunteers on an outfall safari © South East Rivers Trust

River Rangers

Our River Rangers Team help us to discover and monitor invasive non-native species (INNS) on the Hogsmill, Beverley Brook and Wandle.

Our team of trained recorders work together to survey the entire length of the Hogsmill, Beverley Brook and Wandle annually, building up a picture of where the invasive species are and how well our management efforts are working in controlling them.

River Ranger surveying for invasive non-native species © South East Rivers Trust

Elver Migration Monitoring

We’re working with an amazing bunch of volunteers to monitor the migration of young eels (elvers) on the River Ember, a side branch of the River Mole.

Between April and September our team of volunteers are:

  • Checking the eel trap regularly
  • Counting, measuring and releasing any eels found
  • Uploading records to the ZSL website.

This gives us data on the number of young joining the adult population and can highlight the impact of barriers, one of the principal threats to eels in freshwater.

Measuring elvers © South East Rivers Trust

Become an Everyday River Hero

Sign up to our programme of tips and information about what to learn how to become an Everyday River Hero.

When you sign up to become an Everyday River Hero, we’ll show you how making small changes in your everyday routine can help bring rivers back to life.

Over the course of 10 weeks, we will send you easy tips and tricks for you to try at home; from water saving in your bathrooms to insights into water quality and sewage; wildlife hints to plastic pollution no-no’s. We’ll also keep you up to date on community action events and activities in your area.

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