CRT Launches Citizen Science Project

The Canal & River Trust has teamed up with partners, including King’s College London, and is appealing for people aged 16 or over to take part in its largest ever study of the wellbeing benefits of spending time beside water. The academic study will enable the Trust to better understand the health benefits of waterways and will help make the case to partners and funders of the importance of looking after and investing in Britain’s former industrial canals and rivers.

Those taking part download an app onto their smart phone.  Then, three times a day over the following two weeks, they are prompted to answer ‘in the moment’ questions about how they feel and the environment around them.  On each occasion it takes about one minute to complete the survey.  Those taking part are able to access an individualised report summarising their experiences.  This could shed light on how being in different types of places, such as being close to birds, trees and water, affects their mood, as well as contributing to the wider study of the impact of different environments on mental health and wellbeing.

Jenny Shepherd, research and impact manager at the Canal & River Trust, comments: “Those of us that know and use the waterways feel instinctively that spending time beside water is good for our wellbeing.  With our academic partners, and with the help of the public, we’re able to collect our own bespoke data to record how people are affected by their environment and how this changes when they are on or beside water.

“This scale and scope of this research is a first for the Trust.  And, with the help of those taking part, we can emphatically demonstrate to decision makers and funders the importance of canals and the vital role they play, particularly in our towns and cities where green and blue space is at a premium.  We’d like as many people to take part as possible – having taken part myself, I know it literally takes a minute or so just three times a day.  It’s a fascinating area of study, both to find out about your own individual mood influencers, and for the wider social implications of the environment on wellbeing.”

The Canal & River Trust survey, which runs from 21 September to 15 November, is run on the Urban Mind app and partners King’s College London, J&L Gibbons and Nomad Projects. The app is free to download on Google Play.  To take part please download and select the ‘custom’ study option and enter the password ‘water’ when prompted.  The survey is confidential and participants are not asked to provide their name, phone, email or any other information which could identify them.