South East Rivers Trust

Volunteering is back – tell a friend!


September has been an exciting month for us at the Trust, because we’ve been able to re-introduce volunteering events and get back to what we love most: getting stuck in to helping rivers with other likeminded people.

As you’d expect, things are a little different now. Gone are the days (for now) of crowding around a water logged mattress and working together to heave it up the bank.

That being said, our smaller events have got off to a great start and we will be trialling some new locations and activities. We’ve come up with new systems, like limiting numbers and quarantining our kit, to make sure everyone can stay safe whilst getting involved.  Read on to hear a bit more about what we have been up to.

River Wandle cleanup at Culvers Island

Just like at one of our classic clean-up events, volunteers joined us to help pull rubbish out of the River Wandle. We worked our way around Culvers Island in Sutton, a great location for one of our first ‘new’ cleanup events as the water is shallow and the river is wide enough for volunteers to space themselves out in a socially distanced manner!

This is a really lovely stretch of the Wandle, with a well-used path running alongside the river. In 2014 SERT carried out a large restoration project just upstream at Hackbridge and you will often see brown trout and kingfishers at this spot. 

Whilst this section of river is not a hot-spot for large rubbish or fly tipping, it still suffers from the usual litter and plastic pollution we have all become used to seeing in our urban rivers.

Over the course of the day, we hosted two events and were joined by 8 volunteers who collectively covered an impressive 700m of river. The haul for the day included the ever-present coconut (x2) as well as multiple footballs, a child’s chair, a kitchen knife, a car wing- mirror and the usual assortment of tin cans and plastic bottles.

A big thank you to Steve, Phil, Jane, Kamile, Guy, Derek, James and Liz for all their hard work and to Sutton Council for removing the rubbish from site free of charge.

Beverley Brook cleanup at Wimbledon Common

Our second event took place at Wimbledon Common where we once again donned waders to remove plastic pollution and other litter, this time from the Beverley Brook.

Back at the start of 2019 SERT restored this section of the brook. We secured many large trees and branches into the river, mimicking naturally-occurring fallen trees, to kick start the natural processes you would expect to see if the river hadn’t been modified by hundreds of years of human activities. This is great for helping the river to recover, but it did provide some challenges for our volunteers, who had to manoeuvre round and clamber over many obstacles as they worked their way upstream!

But there was no branch too tricky to duck under or bank too steep for the intrepid bunch of 10 volunteers who came to join us over the course of the day. We covered an amazing 450m of river and cleared 12 sacks of rubbish; with plastic wrappers and cans the most common finds.

Thanks to Olivia, Andrew, Marcus, James, Guy, Peter, Jane, David, Bella and Peter for coming along to help and to the Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators for disposing of the rubbish and helping to facilitate the event.

If you’d like to find out about all the events we have coming up, please join our mailing list or keep checking our events page. We look forward to seeing you at one of our events soon.

These events were run thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Emergency Relief Fund which has helped us to get back to volunteering whilst keeping everybody safe.

A final thank you to Big Yellow Self Storage in Wandsworth for providing us with free equipment storage.

Have any Question or Comment?

2 comments on “Volunteering is back – tell a friend!

Ben Hazell

I am looking to study a biological sciences degree and I would be interested in taking part in some volunteer work to better understand the issues surrounding our rivers.

Jess Mead

Hi Ben, Thank you for your interest in volunteering with us. Please join our mailing list at https://www.southeastriverstrust.org/mailing-list/ to be kept in the loop of all upcoming volunteer events.

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