Serving The Community – Towpath Talk, March 2015

In this issue Derek Stansfield director of training for the National Community Boat Association, looks at how members’ websites reflect their dedication and commitment.

Serving the Community is the underlining and combining principle of all the members of the National Community Boats Association.  In one form or another this is written into the constitution of all our members, some explicitly and some covertly.  What is apparent is the diversity of that service and the vast array of provision there is.  It is also evident that the vast majority, if not all of these Projects, rely massively on Volunteers.To illustrate this point a look around a few of our member’s website will give sufficient evidence.  For example:

East Manchester Community Boat project state: “Our object is to provide or assist in the provision of facilities, in the interests of social welfare, for recreation, education or other leisure time, occupation of persons mainly in the East of Manchester and Greater Manchester areas, who have need of such facilities by reason of their disability.   In the event of spare capacity to also include persons who are disadvantaged by social and economic circumstances with the object of improving and enhancing their conditions of life”

Canalability based at Harlow say: “We are a registered charity dedicated to working with community, youth and family groups especially those with disabled people.”

Laburnum Boat Club in London have 2 narrow boats (one of which is wheelchair accessible) running day trips for youth, community, educational & welfare groups.

One of our newest members New Reflections is an organisation that provides dedicated care for Young People and covers the following areas:
Early Intervention

  • Youth Engagement Programmes
  • Respite Breaks
  • Foster Care support
  • Care Leavers support

Residential Care Services

  • Emotional Behavioural Difficulties
  • Services to Young People who display sexually abusive behaviour
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Semi-Independence


  • DFE Registered School to Educate up to 28 pupils ages 11-18 years
  • Offering Key Stages 3 & 4
  • Following National Curriculum and Alternative Curriculum
  • Open to- day students (those that for whatever reason cannot access main stream schooling)
  • Vocational Training
  • Partnership with colleges and LEA

The Truman Enterprise Narrowboat Trust operate three 70ft narrowboats for use by groups from Walsall and surrounding areas. Two of these for residential youth & community trips, one a day trip boat, with wheelchair access for elderly, disadvantaged & disabled groups.

In the East Midlands one of our members, The Chesterfield Canal Trust, is dedicated to the promotion and restoration of the Chesterfield Canal, whilst Eckington School is a School based project offering trips to Families, Groups etc. through shared provision with the Chesterfield Canal Trust.

The Thames and Kennet Narrow Boat Trust is a community based project dedicated to providing young people with an inland waterways boating experience they will never forget.

Swinton Lock Activity Centre is based on the South Yorkshire Navigation Canal at Swinton, the Centre provides arts & environmental activities, including boat trips and boat handling courses for all ages.

This then is just a snapshot of a few of our Projects but it does give a flavour of the diversity within the NCBA.  In trawling through all the websites the word ‘dedicated’ was continuously appearing, whether it be in relation to the personal, the provision or the ideal.  Alongside this as mentioned before was the word volunteers, without which many of our Project would not exist.

Therefore it is right that the NCBA at its Annual conference and AGM in March look at both the issues of ‘Serving the Community’ and ‘Volunteering’ not only in maintaining our waterway network but also enhancing what we believe are essential services to the community.



Thursday 19th March 2015

Forest Arts and Media Centre
Hawbush Road

10:00am for 10:30am

Theme: “Serving the Local Community”

Keynote Speaker:  Richard Parry, CEO, Canal and River Trust.

Everyone welcome.  Further details from Bob Ratcliffe, NCBA, Town Hall, Darlaston, Walsall, WS10 8AA

Tel: 07921 404757

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