We are delighted to welcome Chloe Peck as our new Communities Coordinator to the River Action team. In our latest blog, we get to know more about Chloe and the role that she will play to help rescue Britain’s rivers
Q1. Tell us about yourself
My name’s Chloe. I’m a nature lover, an avid walker, a not-so-great yogi, a slightly chaotic chef, a passionate tea drinker, and now I’m thrilled to be the new communities coordinator!
After living and working in Manchester for several years, I have recently moved to London. Although I am currently city bound, my heart belongs to the countryside, and cherish the opportunity to explore the great outdoors, often in my tiny van.
Q2. How did you become interested in river protection
My deep connection with rivers dates back to my childhood, when I spent long glorious days exploring the banks of the river Frome whilst my dad patiently fished for trout. That’s where my love for being in and around water was born. Today, it’s all about wild swimming, and I’ve been known to drive for hours to plunge into freezing cold water.
While working in Manchester, I had the privilege of being part of the Love Your River Irk project. This initiative united communities to explore and restore the River Irk. I conducted workshops on invasive species impacting our ecosystem, the species of invertebrates in the river, and how to identify various plants along the river banks.
The most important lesson I learnt during this project was how vital it is for local communities to feel connected to their local environment, motivating them to protect it.
Q3. You have a wealth of experience working in community engagement for a variety of projects. What have you enjoyed most about this kind of work and what have been its biggest challenges?
Community engagement has brought so much joy to my life and I love feeling embedded in a group of passionate people. Whether as a youth worker in inner-city Manchester, I’ve trained young women at a community radio station, I’ve led groups of volunteers to plant trees, and I’ve run English classes for migrants, each connection I’ve made has been meaningful.
The challenge that we face is a sense of powerlessness. It is increasingly difficult to feel connected to each other and the environment we are in, making it challenging to take ownership of the world around us. The best approach someone working in community engagement can do is to support and empower others to see that together we are strong and can make a difference.
Q4. Tell us about your new role as Communications Coordinator at River Action. What can we expect to see from your role in 2023/4?
I am genuinely excited about my role as communities coordinator. Over the next few months I will be developing and publishing the River Rescue Kit. This kit will serve as a valuable resource for everyone interested in guidance to campaign for cleaner rivers; from well-established groups to individuals who want guidance on where to start. It will include information on setting up as a group, participating in citizen science, gaining media interest, understanding your legal rights, and raising funds. We will also include a map that will help connect different river groups to one another.
Further to this, I’m looking forward to getting to know the remarkable communities we have already worked with, such as the Henley Mermaids, the Henley & Marlow River Action group and the Welsh Rivers Union. Alongside our continuous support for these groups, I am eager to connect with new groups across the country.
Q5. In your opinion, what is further needed/what needs to change in order to rescue Britain’s rivers?
Last year saw increased awareness and support for cleaning up Britain’s rivers. The scale of the crisis is daunting, but we all possess the means to drive change. Rivers need to be at the centre of our individual decision making processes, and this will have a knock on effect on politics and industry. Through people taking individual action, joining a group, and coming together as a network, we can support each other, gain insight from one another, and amplify our voices to make a real difference.