The Canal & River Trust has published a report for partners, funders and supporters of the nation’s canal network showcasing the benefits delivered by the Trust and its canals.

The Impact Report – Transforming Places and Enriching Lives, available on the charity’s website, tells the stories of how canals make a positive impact on people’s lives and help contribute towards some of the most significant challenges facing society.

Building upon an earlier study that aggregates the social value and economic benefits of canals to society, the Impact Report brings to life the stories and testimonies, partnerships and projects that sit behind the monetary values. In highlighting the human stories and associated impact behind the Trust’s work, the Report emphasises the vital importance of continued support for the nation’s historic waterways.

The Trust is presenting the Impact Report to parliamentarians and partner organisations at a reception this week in the Houses of Parliament as part of the Keep Canals Alive campaign.

The Impact Report demonstrates how the reinvention of canals gives them an important role in supporting jobs and the economy, addressing inequalities, and as part of the nation’s green future. It also illustrates how the canal network is part of the UK’s national infrastructure and supports government priorities around water security and access to nature, ensuring that everyone is within 15 minutes of water or a quality green space. The Report celebrates the role of the Trust as custodians of important cultural heritage, enjoyed by individuals every day as well as visitors from both home and abroad.

David Orr, chair of the Canal & River Trust, said: “As a society we are facing a number of challenges – climate change, biodiversity decline, water shortages, inactivity and loneliness, to name just a few. Through our research, and what we see every day, we know that canals in our towns and cities have the potential to transform communities and help address these societal challenges.

“Our Impact Report is a showcase to current and future supporters – from individual donors and volunteers through to lotteries, corporate sponsors, local authorities, and partner organisations.  It also aims to help government and politicians understand the partnership role of the Trust across England and Wales and the importance of keeping our canals alive for the wider benefit of the nation.

“The Canal & River Trust is a UK success story. Since 2012 we have established ourselves as an effective custodian of this amazing 250-year-old network, growing support and generating income. This Impact Report shines a light on the scale and breadth of the work we are doing so that the canal network can benefit society today and for future generations.”

The Impact Report groups the case studies and outputs of the Trust and its network under six themes:

  1. Health, Wellbeing and Happiness – Improving health outcomes and tackling inequalities; saving the NHS £1.1 billion every year.
  2. Engaged People & Cohesive Communities – How the Trust provides vital blue space for nine million+ people living within 10–15 minutes’ walk of a canal; building and sustaining social connections and community cohesion.
  3. Learning & Enhanced Skills – How the Trust’s canals provide a unique space for outdoor learning; building character and resilience; developing employability skills; improving life chances for children and young people, particularly in economically disadvantaged areas.
  4. Prosperous & Connected Places – Contributing £1.5 billion per year in added value to the UK economy and supporting 80,000 jobs through waterways businesses and tourism; supporting sustainable urban waterside living and levelling up; connecting and servicing communities by hosting vital telecommunications and utilities across the country.
  5. Green & Blue Futures – Protecting homes and businesses from flooding by maintaining embankments and reservoirs, totalling approx. £42 billion of flood protection value; supporting the green economy; water security.
  6. Cultural & Environmental Assets – Caring for internationally renowned working heritage, used by more boats than at the height of the Industrial Revolution. The Trust maintains over 10,000 nationally important assets and 2,000 miles of wildlife corridors; connecting people with cultural heritage and nature.

The Impact Report can be found on the Canal & River Trust website: