VOLUNTEERS are being sought to help look after the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

A wide range of roles is on offer, from carrying out maintenance tasks to raising awareness of canals and water safety through school visits.

The plea has been issued as part of a national campaign by the Canal & River Trust, which oversees around 2,000 miles of waterways across England & Wales.

Trust bosses say the impact of extreme weather events, combined with the ageing of the canal network, are contributing to an increasing workload.

Ranvir Singh, who is championing the campaign, says: "Although there has been a remarkable growth in canal volunteering over the past decade, the ever more extreme weather events brought about by climate change illustrate the fragility of our national collection of canals and the much-loved wildlife they are home to.

"As this season passes into spring and then summer, there is such a wide variety of volunteering opportunities to get involved with on your local canal.

"Last year, thousands of volunteers devoted over half a million hours to the Canal & River Trust. Taking part helps you feel like you are contributing to a legacy within your area and makes you proud of the environment you live in. You can improve your own wellbeing, your community and the environment in one go."

Christine Mellor, head of volunteering at the trust, says pending Government funding cuts will further increase the need for voluntary support.

She adds: "Volunteering has gone from strength to strength over the past decade, with dedicated people working alongside our teams of experts, expanding the impact of the work we're able to carry out.

"With volunteers donating their time, knowledge and skills, we are better able to keep our canals available for nature and wildlife and for communities to benefit.

"The ageing canal network, coupled with the challenges of extreme weather events and recently-announced future cuts in Government funding, means we are calling out for 'all hands on deck'. The message is ‘your canal needs you’!"

Latest data indicates that in the past four years, the number of people using canals – for purposes ranging from boating and angling to walking and cycling – has increased by 30 per cent. And research shows that nine million people in England and Wales are within a ten-minute walk of a canal.

For more about volunteering and how to get involved, visit canalrivertrust.org.uk/volunteer