Hello, my name is Jo Moseley, and I am the author of Stand Up Paddleboarding in Great Britain – Beautiful Places to Paddleboard in England, Scotland and Wales and host of The Joy of SUP – The Paddleboarding Sunshine Podcast. I am also a proud ambassador for the 2 Minute Foundation and Seaful Charity.
Photo: Canal and River Trust
Like me, I’m sure you have found SUP to be a lovely way to build friendships. Did you know paddlesports, including SUP, have been socially prescribed to help people experiencing loneliness?
I contacted Sharron Bright from the Canal and River Trust to learn more. Having paddled along the Leeds Liverpool Canal on my coast to coast in 2019, I was particularly interested in the joy the canal could bring.
She told me that the ‘From Isolation to Inclusion’ project has been hugely successful on the waterways of Leeds.
It is funded by Interreg, a European funding body; the project aims to increase happiness levels by reducing social isolation and increasing community connection.
Key to its success was using the blue space corridors the Leeds to Liverpool Canal provides through the urban communities along its route.
Local health data was used to identify those who experienced the highest levels of loneliness and isolation in the communities closest to the canal. Cocreation groups were formed from these target groups, where they identified barriers to participation accessibility needs and suggested activities that could be tried out in the blue spaces.
Those taking part came to the project by being socially prescribed into local community groups who signposted them into the Canal and River Trust’s provision, including boating, paddlesports, foraging, bushcraft and poetry writing.
The sessions on and near the water greatly impacted those attending. At the beginning of sessions, 62 % of participants said they often or sometimes felt lonely. By the end of the unit, only 35% of people felt the same.
One participant said, “The outdoor activities have given me purpose and hope and brought me inner peace. I’ve met loads of people in a similar situation to me. It’s helped improve my mental health and well-being. I needed this course to help me on the road to recovery.”
How wonderful is this?
To find out more, watch the video on YouTube or go to www.canalrivertrust.org.uk.