Thursday, 13 September 2012

Student-Led Underwater River Clean Volunteering Project!

Diving into the unknown depths of the River Thames, Kingston University students have quite literally pushed the boat out by organising Sub Aqua’s first underwater river clean.

It has taken 12 months to organise but the Kingston University Sub Aqua Club (KUSAC) has finally been given the go-ahead for the Thames underwater litter-pick.

On 17 September 2012, from 10am-5pm, trained members of the Sub Aqua diving club will be plunging themselves into the River Thames here at Kingston, in both a credible and exciting attempt to clean the bottom of our local river.

Their efforts are part of a nationwide campaign, The BSAC Underwater Litter Pick 2012, to remove litter from the waterways and coastline around Britain.

Previous litter-pick river divers have removed shopping trolleys, bikes and tin cans, all of which are dumped in rivers and pose a threat to marine and wildlife.

Chris Elliot, who is going into his 2nd year at Kingston University has been leading on the project. He said: “I wanted to be able to find a way for our club (KUSAC) to be able put something back into the community.  An under-water river clean is something that our club has the skills and passion to do.”

Chris is running the project through ‘Be A Champion’, an Olympic-inspired initiative to get sports clubs involved in volunteering activities. Kingston University Students’ Union (KUSU) was recently granted silver accreditation by the National Union of Students (NUS) for its support of Olympic Inspired activity.

Sub Aqua has had to gain permission from various agencies such as the Environment Agency, Metropolitan Police and RBK Council in order to run the project but has also gained enormous support along the way.

KUSU Volunteering has supported Chris on his project from the outset offering expert advice and sourcing student volunteers to help on the day. Jemma Houghton one of the Volunteering Coordinators from KUSU Volunteering said: ‘I’m so proud of Chris. He’s worked extremely hard to get this project off the ground, juggling this Student-Led Volunteering project with his university degree course, working part-time and taking part in many other extra-curricular activities. We’re just keeping our fingers crossed for good weather now!’  

Lynsey Stafford, Biodiversity and Landscape Administrator in the Estates Department of Kingston University has also been heavily involved in the project, giving expert environmental advice and helping with the logistics of the project. Several volunteers from Kingston University Biodiversity Action Group (KUBAG) will also be helping out on the day.

Members of Kingston University Kayaking Club will have kayakers on the river bank protecting the divers from other boats on the water and members from Kingston University Netball Club will be volunteering on the river bank, collecting the waste and putting it in the skips. Jana Bentley, Head of Waste Management at KUSCO (Kingston University’s main service provider) has also been instrumental in her support of the project.

In addition to University support, companies and environmental authorities have offered their services. Veolia Environnement are providing two skips and will take the rubbish away for free and a couple of their staff will also be helping on the day. Thames21 are providing a range of equipment, including protective gloves and footwear, wheel barrows, litter pickers and high visibility jackets and Aquanaut are giving air cylinders to the project. The Royal Bank of Scotland and the Co-Operative Bank in Kingston are both very kindly lending one car parking space each and The Harts BoatYard are donating five car parking spaces on the day so that the students do not have far to carry their equipment to the river.  

Chris who has been scuba diving with the Sub Aqua club for three years and qualified as an instructor last year, said: “I’ve been overwhelmed by the support we’ve received from local groups and I’m very grateful and excited about the project.”
If you’re a Kingston University student interested in volunteering on this project then please let us know! We need you to help out on Monday 17th September, 09:30am-5:30pm and collect the rubbish the divers put on the river bank and deposit it in the skips provided. There will also be an information point on the river bank which we need volunteers to staff so that the general public can find out more about the project. 

Volunteer activities include:
  • Collecting rubbish from the river bank and placing it in the skips provided.
  • Collecting money for RNLI through a bucket collection on an information point on the river bank.
  • Standing on an information point and talking to any members of the public who are interested about the river clean project.  
Skills needed: Volunteers must be enthusiastic, have good communication and team-working skills and be able to stand for long periods of time.  Please note volunteers should wear sensible clothing, but protective gloves, steel toe-cap wellington boots and other equipment will be provided. 

If you are interested: please email Volunteer Co-ordinator Jemma Houghton at with your full name, KU number, and telephone number by 4pm on Friday 14th September 2012.

All KUSU Volunteers who complete our registration process (only takes half an hour or so) can claim back their volunteer expenses! 

Alternatively if you're a member of the general public and want to find out more about the Underwater River Clean why not come along on Monday 17th September 2012, 10am-5pm and see the Student-Led Volunteering project in action! There will be an information point situated in the back garden of The Ram pub opposite the river, KT1 1H. Several KUSU Volunteers will be running this information point, giving out literature, as well as raising money through a bucket collection for Chris’ chosen charity: RNLI – ‘the charity that saves lives at sea’.   

By Lauren Stopps KUSU Communications Coordinator

1 comment:

  1. Our underwater world is under tremendous pressure – too much garbage and litter, especially plastic is being thrown in, and too many fish are being fished out.
    Much of the litter they found was comprised of the usual suspects – plastic bags and bottles. One volunteer who set out on a kayak said he had collected about more than 100 pounds of trash.

    Current measures to curb pollution in waterways include the installation of vertical gratings at drain outlets and placing floating barriers at strategic locations along the waterways


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