This week staff from Liberty Speciality Steels in Rotherham partnered with local charity Swinton Lock in an environmental improvement project which involved a group of over 40 people taking part in a canal clear up next to the steelworks.
Swinton Lock sailed their two narrowboats down to the mooring where staff from Liberty Steel, charity volunteers and service users met and collected nearly 100 bags of rubbish from the canal side.
Swinton Lock is a community based charity developed in 2004 to meet the education and social needs of the communities in Rotherham, Doncaster, Barnsley and the Dearne Valley.
It owns two narrowboats, one of which is the only fully accessible narrowboat for disabled people in the area. The boats are used as therapeutic floating classrooms for victims and survivors of abuse, to educate both young people and the elderly about the local environment and wildlife, the narrowboats can also be hired by members of the community for celebrations and come fully crewed.
The narrowboats are a great tool for the charities work with young disadvantaged people as they teach them life skills such as team working. Over 2,500 people access the boats through the charities programmes each year.
The idea for the canal clear up was developed when Jon Bolton, Chief Executive of Liberty Speciality Steels met Jayne Senior the Chief Executive at Swinton Lock and they discussed their joint ambition for supporting young people in education and employment and working to regenerate the canals.
Liberty Speciality Steels take an active role in training young people for industry through their apprenticeship programme and the GFG Foundation which is an initiative to develop the skills needed to help people start and continue working in specific industries, notably engineering, metals and renewable energy.
Swinton Lock’s primary focus is a re-engagement programme for children and young people aged 10 - 16 who are struggling to achieve or have been excluded from mainstream education for a variety of reasons. They provide a wide ranging and diverse programme of activities which offer alternative education programmes. At present the centre is working with 84 children and young people and has an attendance rate of 97%, of those 84 children 31 have a disability.
The shocking amount of plastic collected at the environmental project this week highlighted that more needs to be done to maintain these canals. Liberty Steel and Swinton Lock are discussing the possibility of setting up something on a regular basis that will clean up the canals whilst also educating young people about the damage of plastic on the environment, helping to inspire people to make small everyday changes.
Claire Neilson, Community and Engagement Manager, Liberty Speciality Steels said:
“At Liberty our commitment to the environment goes wider than the GREENSTEEL vision. I am delighted that so many Liberty colleagues were able to support this important initiative which will make a real difference to the quality of the local area and help to support the vital work that Swinton Lock does.”
Jayne Senior, Chief Executive Officer, Swinton Lock said:
“I am grateful for the support provided by Liberty Steel who came together with our volunteers and the people we support to clean up the canal. It’s great when local businesses get involved in the community and it makes a real difference to our work.”