The Acre Foundation

Swapping the water cooler for the waterside

Posted on 18 October 2012 by Raina

Swapping the water cooler for the waterside

Recently my colleague Steve and I participated in Acre’s volunteering scheme. We were working with Thames21, one of the country’s leading waterway charities, to help create a community garden on the banks of the river Lea in Bromley-by-Bow, East London.

The weather report for that day forecast rain, but to our surprise there were no clouds to be seen and only beaming sunshine. Straightaway we were greeted with warm tea and chocolate chip biscuits to get our energy levels up for the upcoming work.

After our ‘recharging’, the team from Thames21 provided us with gloves, safety boots and gave us a health and safety talk on the risks associated from working near water.

Steve gets kitted out The river Lea in Bromley-by-Bow

When the time came for work to start, we had the options of painting, planting or sawing, – and being a DIY enthusiast myself, I jumped into the sawing. Steve and I sawed up a huge pile of scrap wood and branches in order to add them to the compost heap. Despite being so close to the city, the whole environment there was relaxing and felt a world away from the hustle and bustle.

While we were working, Simon from Thames21 told us about some of the problems they face in trying to keep that stretch of the river clean. Workers on barges from a nearby under-construction sewer had been careless in the past about not letting construction waste spill into the water. Thames21 had to photograph and report the incident to Thames Water in order to get working practices improved. On such a busy waterway, it was just one of many challenges Thames21 face on a daily basis.

At the end of the day we reflected on the work we’d done: it felt very rewarding and a refreshing change to our normal working day – I’d recommend to anyone to get in contact with Thames21 and give it a go!