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Katy Shorten joins River Action

We are delighted to welcome Katy Shorten as our Senior Development Coordinator to the River Action team. In our latest blog, we get to know more about Katy and the role that she will play to help rescue Britain’s rivers.

Q1. Tell us about yourself

Hello! 

I grew up in Cornwall, and after spending time living in other areas of the country, am pleased to have returned ‘home’. I have always loved being out in nature, especially in water and in any weather, and so I feel lucky to live where there is such an abundance of it. I have three brothers, and seven nieces and nephews, so there is usually something interesting to take part in, and get out and about. I started learning to play the flute and read music as an adult in my 30s, so get a mixture of happiness, frustration and peace from that, depending on my mood 🙂 

Q2. How did you become interested in river protection?

Just before the COVID pandemic I moved to Oxfordshire, and was starting a new life without knowing many people. During that time, and afterwards, the river became a real joy and salvation for me. I mostly walked, swam and canoed along the Thames, and developed an affinity for it and all it offers. Since moving back to Cornwall I have a deeper appreciation for the Tamar, which I now feel I took for granted growing up! I’ve started Cornish Gig Rowing and have met some wonderful people who equally share my passion. I find what is happening to our rivers distressing, and avoidable. I was drawn to River Action’s work to mobilise local communities, the public, Government, and industry to find solutions together, and believe we can make a difference. 

Q3. You have over 20 years of experience working in social care and homelessness.  What have you enjoyed most about this kind of work and what have been its biggest challenges? 

My time working in the homelessness and social care sectors has formed a strong value system in me, grounded in compassion, understanding, acceptance and hope. To have been witness to the experiences and situations of the most excluded people living in our society today is humbling. I hope to have played a small part in helping some people to lead the lives they want and aspire to, despite the challenges they face. I remain in awe and admiration of the people living and working across homelessness and social care systems, pulling together and absolutely doing their best with limited resources. So, I guess on a personal level what I have enjoyed the most is the partnerships and collaboration with amazing people, and the biggest challenge was not feeling able to do ‘enough’!

Q4. Tell us about your new role as Senior Development Coordinator at River Action...what can we expect to see from your role in 2023/4?

I’m really excited to be starting at River Action when there is so much focus and momentum behind the movement. My role at River Action will be to help ensure; our strategy stays up to date and relevant, we continue to understand the impact we are making so that we remain agile and responsive to where we can make the biggest difference, and that we have the funds available to keep supporting local communities to rescue their rivers.   

Q5. In your opinion, what is further needed/what needs to change in order to rescue Britain’s rivers?

The health of our environment and our rivers is directly related to the health of us as individuals, communities and broader humanity. Without healthy rivers our food and water supply is being affected, not to mention limiting the wellbeing effects of being out in nature and something bigger than ourselves. For me placing the natural environment and the health of our rivers front and centre of all decision making feels like the biggest change we could make. In order to this we need information and evidence out there in the public domain, and a groundswell of public opinion to support effective decisions and action – whether that is macro decisions the Government takes on how it spends our taxes, how industry decides to invest in natural solutions to waste and pollution, or individual consumer choices. River Action’s approach to doing this by blending support for ‘bottom up’ individual and community activity with a ‘top down’ call to action for Government and industry, will mean our rivers become a priority consideration behind all decision making.