Date : 1st July 2020 ~ suitable for immediate release
Scottish Canal Network: The effect of the Coronavirus Lockdown has been drastic throughout the country. But as lockdown restrictions are gradually relaxed, it is becoming evident that some organisations who up to know have been “muddling through”, are only now coming to the realization of the full impact.
This is the case with the countless charities that normally operate on the canal network in Scotland ~ organisations that are mostly led & run by the volunteer sector, many unsung heroes who have for years provided outstanding services and facilities to communities. But as the canals and tow paths begin to open up again, it is unlikely that the boats, charters and cruises will be sailing for some time ~ the prolonged lockdown has had a deep impact on these charities being simply able to start up again from where they left off.
As volunteers slowly return to their base, there is much work to do on the fleets to get the boats “ship shape” again as regular maintenance has not been possible during lockdown, and even if they could sail, there is considerable work needed on the canals to get them navigable again (it seems the weeds have enjoyed the lockdown more than most). But there has also been considerable financial impact on these Canal Charities and Societies. Many have had their income decimated or drastically reduced, while operating expenses have continued unabated.
To counteract this, Scottish Waterway’s for All are coordinating The Big Splash Campaign ~ The Canal Charities Recovery Fund. This unique campaign allows locals and communities to support their favourite or local charity, rather than the normal scenario where funds would be pooled, and shared out to all ~ sometimes too thinly to make any difference.
As Stuart Rennie of Scottish Waterways for All explains..
“This is important as many of these charities support their local communities. It is also acknowledged that the canals make a strong contribution to the health and wellbeing of those that live within a short distance, and are able to benefit from life on or alongside the water. It is sometimes said that the easiest way to slow down in our fast paced world is to travel at 4mph ~ the speed limit on our canals.”
“The Seagull Trust offer cruises to elderly and disabled, Re-Union Canal Boats offer volunteering opportunities to those wishing to work on the canal, and organisations such as The Sorted Project operate their boat “Panacea” to assist those recovering from drug and substance abuse. In Glasgow, Lambhill stables - the café on the canal - have been distributing food parcels during the coronavirus crisis, while Freewheel North also in Glasgow, provide cycling for the disabled along the canal towpath. The list goes on and on.”
“Another important aspect is the level of tourism that is attracted to the canal towns such as Linlithgow where Linlithgow Union Canal Society have been attracting visitors to the area for many a year.”
The launch of The Big Splash will hopefully allow local communities, and others that have enjoyed the canals over the years, to give their support, and bring life back onto the water and tow paths. Without such a vibrant facility, we will all be a bit worse off.
Details of The Big Splash, and all the charities involved, are available at www.scv-awards.co.uk, where you can also donate to your favourite charity.