Cody Dock, Gasworks Dock Partnership –

Above photo: Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Team

Benjamin Bishop, Citizen Science and Environment Manager at Cody Dock, recently took time to speak to us, telling us what Cody Dock does, the challenges its community face, and the ways in which the organisation benefits from volunteer support. Read on to find out more.

1) What does your charity do?
We are regenerating a disused dock on the banks of the River Lea in east London, creating a place for the community to reconnect with the river and its fantastic ecology, learn about its heritage and build a hub for future residents to use and enjoy. We manage a variety of volunteer projects which provide opportunities for people of all ages to get involved, learn new skills and share their stake in the future of Cody Dock. These include; Citizen Science & Environmental Conservation; Community Gardening Club; Dock Restoration; and Construction & Site Maintenance. We also offer education opportunities to help nourish and develop environmental learning, nurture cross-curricular field work, and bring learning outside of its traditional settings. Our most recent work has been focused on carrying out monitoring projects, with the help of over 600 volunteers, to address local data deficiency, along the Lower Lea which is home to an astonishing level of biodiversity.

2) What are the challenges your service users face, and how does your organisation help users overcome them?
The local area has limited access to nature and is rapidly being redeveloped for new residential buildings. This is increasing the pressure on the local environment and its biodiversity, and now is the time to ensure its survival before it is lost locally. There are also not many local opportunities to get involved in activities directly related to improving the natural environment. Our project provides a space for individuals and groups to come and participate in this type of work, building their own skills and knowledge to take this elsewhere and ELBA help us recruit volunteers. We also use this as an opportunity for people to share their own skills within the community, creating a space for sharing experience. Each person who joins our volunteers helps contribute towards the conservation of this river and its fantastic biodiversity, protecting it for future generations.

3) Do you have an inspirational story/moment about your work that you would like to share?
In 2021, our volunteers turned out in force to support Cody Dock’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund, completing 3300 hours of service to the local environment. They contributed to projects, such as the National Bat Monitoring project, BirdTrack for the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), planted 500 trees, and removed an enormous amount of fly-tipped rubbish that was damaging the local environment. A particular highlight of our project was our engagement with 262 young people, including students from six schools from the South East who worked with sister schools in Ghana to create an environmental protest exhibition as part of the Thames Festival Trust Project ‘The Story of Water’. This work was showcased at a celebration event where children gave moving performances, read out powerful protest speeches and raps, coming together to appreciate their hard work and collaboration.

4) What kind of support are you in need of right now and how might volunteering fit into that?
We want to ensure that every resident, worker and stakeholder in the local area is engaged in ours and other projects of this nature, so we can ensure the increased investment in the river’s health and the landscape around it. We need more volunteers, contributors, support from businesses, experts and collaborators to join up this work and increase its impact. Businesses can support us by booking environmental team volunteer days with Cody Dock; offering support from their teams, from specialists, enthusiasts and passionate individuals, or by sponsoring our environmental education programme and help us offer resources and opportunities to local schools and young people. We want people to know we are here and what we do, get involved and be part of the solution to nature recovery in our cities!

Click here to read Cody Dock Tidal Lea Ecology Report 2021-22.

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