Wednesday 7 March 2012

Finite Resource

What a windy night - the boat was moving around quite a bit as we have slack lines to the jetty. The marina is a short pound between two locks. The level often fluctuates by a foot and sometimes even more.
I have been cogitating again - (I know all the old jokes will be turned out again, for yet another airing) - just do it a little bit and wear glasses - etc.

No, this time I have been cogitating about the almost mythical CaRT volunteer army that we have all been promised is going to bring the canals back to life. I just wonder where they are all going to come from. I think it is a case of CaRT like BW living in Lala Land.

Lets take a look at just one single grouping - the environment.

Now take my area of the canals. Sheffield has several environmental groups happily working on various maintenance matters around the rivers and canals. They are stand-alone environmental groups in their own right. This is nothing unique in itself. The groups have been on the go for a while and they have their own track record of recruiting to their ranks and raising funds.

Now, CaRT is going to be recruiting from the same finite stock of environmental volunteers within a given area. Now I can't help but feel that this is going to have a detrimental effect. Poaching members of other organisations is not the way forward. Especially the ones who work already in and around our canals and rivers. Thinning down the volunteer numbers to a point where I can see some existing groups being unable to maintain sufficient numbers of volunteers. Possibly even going on to close down. Many of these groups obtain their own funding which will also dry up with their demise. More than anything else the enthusiasm in a volunteer is easily transferable outside of the inland waterways.

There are countless volunteer organisations already working on the Inland Waterway's network. Some are small charities, canal societies and local community groups. But there are also the big hitters with years and years of previous experience in the Environmental Volunteer market.

The National Trust - We're a UK conservation charity, protecting historic places and green spaces, and opening them up for ever, for everyone.

BTCV The charity was set up in 1959, and has a successful history of environmental conservation volunteering throughout the UK and around the world.

The Wildlife Trusts Today there are 47 individual Wildlife Trusts covering the whole of the UK. The Wildlife Trusts are the largest UK voluntary organisation dedicated to protecting wildlife and wild places everywhere. We are supported by more than 800,000 members. Our vision is “an environment rich in wildlife for everyone”

YHA The YHA is aiming to reach out and enhance the lives of all young people. We operate a network of more than 200 Youth Hostels, bunkhouses and camping barns across England and Wales. We’re also part of an international network of Youth Hostels in 60 countries around the world. The first Youth Hostel was started 100 years ago and since then the idea has spread right around the world. We’re proud of our history and of the part we play.

Sustrans Sustrans makes smarter travel choices possible, desirable and inevitable. We're a leading UK charity enabling people to travel by foot, bike or public transport for more of the journeys we make every day.

RSPB We look for all sorts of volunteers with diverse skills, from conservationists, bird identifiers and ditch diggers to graphic designers, media gurus and nature lovers.

Woodland Trust By joining the Woodland Trust you can help us to plant new native trees and fight to save woodland under threat

Soil Association The Soil Association was founded in 1946 by a group of farmers, scientists and nutritionists who observed a direct connection between farming practise and plant, animal, human and environmental health. Today, we are the UK's leading membership charity campaigning for healthy, humane and sustainable food, farming and land use.

National Parks There are 15 members of the National Parks family in the UK. Each one is looked after by its own National Park Authority. We all work together as the Association of National Park Authorities.

Natural England Our remit is to ensure sustainable stewardship of the land and sea so that people and nature can thrive. It is our responsibility to see that England’s rich natural environment can adapt and survive intact for future generations to enjoy.

The Big Waterways Clean-Up Big Waterways Clean Up 2012 is a London 2012. A campaign to improve the East London’s waterways by July 2012.

This is only the tip of the iceberg.

Do IT Search through over 1,000,000 opportunities to volunteer and apply on line.

With more than a million volunteering opportunities to choose from, why would anyone choose CaRT. After all is is just British Waterways re-branded. Everyone knows of BW's appalling track record of spending years trying to close the canals. Selling off the assets. Openly discouraging volunteers. Fat Cats on big bonuses. Why work for a business who sack their staff only to replace them with volunteers. Volunteers like to work alongside real staff where they feel that the skills they can learn are based on a sound working knowledge.

I can imagine the conversation between two volunteers. "you are new here aren't you?" "yes I started today. - how about you?" "Oh! I'm a veteran, been here a month!" "Where are the tools?" "All sold off you have to bring your own!" "is there only us?" "no there is another one, comes in on the third Friday of the  month!" "what's he like?" "Not met him yet as I don't do Fridays!" "Who is the team leader?" "not been recruited yet!" "OK, see you next week?" "No, I'm joining another volunteer group!" "Can I come?" "sure, here is the name and telephone number of the team leader!" "do I bring my own tools?" "No everything is provided! Here, have a membership form!"

All of the big hitters have memberships available to the public and their volunteers. - CaRT already does not want a membership based clientele. The problem with memberships is that it puts real numbers on who is truly interested in the rivers and canals.


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