We have just one week to raise £12,500 to support our citizen science volunteers and education projects.

This year, for the first time, Westcountry Rivers Trust (WRT), which has been restoring and protecting freshwater environments in Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset for the past 26 years, is taking part in The Big Give Christmas Challenge to help fund the purchase of river monitoring kits for volunteers, and educational resources.

Our leading Westcountry Citizen Science Investigations (CSI) scheme began in 2016, with dedicated citizen science volunteers surveying freshwater environments across the region ever since.

It now has 200 active citizen scientists but with more than 850 waterbodies across the Westcountry more help is needed to monitor the state of watercourses and support the growing number of people taking part.

The data Westcountry CSI volunteers collect, based on water tests, wildlife, habitat, and pollution assessments, informs work at the trust, making it a vital way of collating river health evidence that can influence policy and water environment decisions.

But it’s not just about gathering data as being immersed in nature also benefits volunteers.

Westcountry CSI citizen scientist Kate said: “Taking part has given me the opportunity to really observe a local patch through the different seasons, and to understand the critical role our watercourses play in connectivity for nature; being part of a group of people who are keen to make a small difference fights my eco-anxiety too.”

WRT’s education officer Shona McCombie said: “To access the full £6, 250 we have in the pledged match fund, we need to raise £6, 250 in online donations.

“We hope those who can help us reach our target will do so as our education activities can spark a lifetime’s love of waterways, helping people enjoy, look after and learn about their rivers and how important they are in sustaining us and other species, which is something to celebrate.”

South West Water (SWW) is one of the organisations making a pledge to the match fund.

Iain Vosper, Waste Water Services and Networks Director at SWW, said: “We are committed to safeguarding and protecting our natural environment and waterways.

“To do this, it’s vital that research is undertaken to understand the impact that the activities of industry, businesses and individuals have on rivers in our region and WRT’s citizen science programme is a great way to mobilise hundreds of volunteers to help monitor waterways and keep our rivers healthy.

“We are delighted to pledge £2,700 in support of this fundraiser and look forward to working in partnership on this important initiative.”

The Big Give Christmas Challenge is the UK’s biggest online match-funding campaign and we have secured pledges for our match-fund from individuals and organisations worth up £6,250, meaning there is potential to raise £12,500 to support CSI and education projects.

The online donation opens on 30 November (Giving Tuesday) at noon and closes on 7 December at noon.

To donate, visit bit.ly/RiverRevellers and double your donation to support people and rivers in the region.

More Info

Our Westcountry Citizen Science Investigations scheme is leading the way in volunteer river monitoring, locally and nationally. In 2020, more than 1,000 river surveys were completed, helping to inform work and waterbody evaluation.

Despite the restrictions of 2020, more than 100 schoolchildren were able to engage with educational activities relating to river biodiversity and ecosystems.

About the Big Give

The Big Give is a registered charity (1136547) whose mission is to promote causes and inspire people to give through theBigGive.org.uk, a crowdfunding platform for charities specialising in match funding.

The Big Give features over 10,000 charities and has worked with some of the biggest names in UK philanthropy which provide match funding, including The Big Lottery Fund, Cabinet Office, People’s Postcode Lottery, ICAP TP, Candis Club Magazine, EQ Foundation, The Reed Foundation, The Childhood Trust and others including high-net-worth individuals.

Since being founded by the entrepreneur and philanthropist, Sir Alec Reed CBE in 2007, the Big Give has helped to raise over £156 million for UK-registered charities through online match-funding campaigns.

The Big Give’s annual flagship campaign, The Christmas Challenge, is the UK’s biggest online match funding campaign.

About Giving Tuesday

#GivingTuesday is a growing global movement now spanning five continents. But while the movement has an international reach, its beauty remains in its local appeal. The heart of #GivingTuesday is community action.

The UK joined the movement in May 2014. The simple idea behind #GivingTuesday is to encourage people, charities and businesses to donate time, money or their voice to help a good cause. #GivingTuesday is led in the UK by the Charities Aid Foundation.