Children wading in a river

Working with Communities

The Rivers Trust movement exists because a group of passionate people came together to advocate for our precious rivers. More than 25 years – and a lot of growth – later, this community spirit is still at the heart of what we do. We are extremely proud of our grassroots support, and it’s really the people we work with that make The Rivers Trust what it is today: a force for positive change.

Together for Rivers

Few of our activities epitomise the community spirit of The Rivers Trust than our fight to make rivers fit to play in. Until recently, there were no designated bathing waters in UK rivers. This means that the rivers people use to swim, paddle, catch and play in could be severely polluted, without people even knowing it. We’re fighting for rivers that are safe enough to swim, paddle, catch or play in, so that people can make informed decisions about using them for recreation. This will also do wonders for the plant and wildlife species that live in rivers too.

After supporting Ilkley Clean River Group’s application for the first designated bathing water site in UK rivers on the Wharfe, near Ilkley, we are now working with community groups and cross-sector partners throughout the UK to help clean up more rivers. We’re also working to set up a Catchment Monitoring Co-operative to harness the power of citizen science and build a better picture of river health.

Supporting communities at risk of flooding

In 2020, The Rivers Trust movement supported 139 communities at risk of flooding.

We want people to love their rivers—not live in fear of them. However, as rivers increasingly break their banks, wreaking havoc on people’s homes and businesses, it’s unsurprising that people are wary of them. As our climate continues to change, flooding is likely to increase in frequency and severity.

In the past, hard engineering solutions like dams were seen as a cure-all solution for flooding—but it is becoming clearer that this alone is not the best solution for our twin nature and climate crises. We’re involved in a number Natural Flood Management Projects, using nature-based solutions such as wetlands and woodlands to slow the flow of water and, in turn, save lives and livelihoods.