Restorations can be a wonderful place to learn new skills and could even be the stepping stone to a brand new career. Waterways in general have also been feted for the benefits they bring to mental wellbeing - they are somewhere you can recharge your batteries and clear your head; a place to swap the rat race for the slow lane.
In 2012, Torfaen County Council linked with the Monmouthshire, Brecon & Abergavenny Canals Trust to deliver the Heritage Lottery funded ‘Waterworks Project’. It aimed to restore a small section of canal using community volunteers, including the long-term unemployed. The project would reduce the ‘missing link’ of unrestored canal, between the main navigable 35 miles and the shorter length south of Cwmbran, to just 2 miles.
"The project engaged the most vulnerable people in the local community & provided a means to support hard to reach groups get back into the workforce."
During the project lifetime over 270 volunteers gained accredited heritage skills, training and work experience, across a wide range of activities from the use of lime mortar to traditional carpentry skills, stone masonry and health & safety. By offering training and qualifications, the restoration has helped 70% of its unemployed volunteers and young people to either go into further training or find jobs.