Do you want to be part of a once-in-a-lifetime river restoration project?

We have big plans to unlock the UK’s longest river for people and wildlife – including restoring 158 miles of habitat for one of our country’s rarest fish.

Thanks to people giving a little bit of their time, we can achieve so much more. Through volunteering you can meet new people, learn new skills and get active outdoors. And if you love the river, you could pass-it-on by helping others to learn and be inspired by the awesome River Severn.

People Powered Science

Our rivers are full of remarkable wildlife and we need your help to document and better-understand life underwater! Perhaps you can join our team of volunteers and help monitor migrating fish in the river Tewkesbury or Worcester? Or maybe you would like to find out what lives in a stream near you?

Engaging Communities

We’re passionate about the River Severn, its wildlife and its heritage. If you are too, we’d love your help to bring the stories of the river to life for the communities that live alongside it. Volunteers are key to help us run educational activities, speak to visitors at our exhibitions & heritage sites, or support Unlocking the Severn events.

River adoption groups

Do you want to take-action to improve your local river? We work with community groups along the Severn to improve the river environment for people and wildlife. Do you want to clear up the litter along your favourite riverside walk? Or maybe help control invasive plant species such as Himalayan Balsam. We can help existing community groups with advice and resources on how to get started.

For more information please contact our Volunteering Officer, Rachel Davies, on [email protected]

Current Opportunities

Shad Migration Volunteer

This volunteer activity involves visiting the riverbank in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire in Spring, and helping us collect valuable data as fish migrate upstream. It requires watching a notch in the weir for periods of about 20 minutes and counting rare shad as they pass through. We use this fish count data to help estimate the migrating shad numbers and get a better understanding of their migration behaviour. No previous experience necessary!

Full training and equipment will be provided. Due to COVID-19 safety precautions, all volunteers will have to attend a 1 hour training session prior to participating in this volunteer role.

The shad migration usually starts in late April and finishes in late May/early June.

Find out more about Fish Migration

Register your interest for current and future volunteering opportunities.

Shad Spawning Acoustics Volunteer

This volunteer activity involves visiting the riverbank during evenings to listen for shad spawning activity. All volunteer sessions will be conducted in small groups with project staff present. It requires sitting near the river for extended periods of time between 10pm and 4am, recording any spawning activity. There are five locations in total, and volunteers can choose to attend the location closest to home:

    • Haw Bridge, near Tewkesbury
    • Upper Lode Weir, Tewkesbury
    • Powick Weir, Worcester
    • Diglis Island, Worcester
    • Bevere Fish Pass, Worcester


We will use this data to help get a better understanding of shad spawning behaviour. No experience is necessary!

Full training and equipment will be provided. Due to covid restrictions, all volunteers will have to attend a virtual 1 hour training session prior to participating in this volunteer role.

The shad spawning will be recorded between late April and finishes in late May/early June.

Find out more about Fish Migration

Register your interest for current and future volunteering opportunities.

Riverfly Monitoring Volunteer

Volunteers on Unlocking the Severn have also been involved in monitoring the health of the Severn and its tributaries. This is done by sampling the invertebrate population and ‘scoring’ the health of the river based upon the results. This activity is suitable for absolute beginners and no experience is necessary, with full training and equipment provided for the volunteers.

This is a Riverfly Partnership initiative enabling local communities to take action that will help conserve the river environment.  This initiative provides a simple river invertebrate monitoring technique which can be used to detect any severe problems in river water quality. For more details about the Riverfly Partnership: www.riverflies.org.

We are not currently recruiting for new riverfly monitoring volunteers.

Register your interest for current and future volunteering opportunities.

Explorers and Guides

Explorers Education Volunteer – Help children discover the magic of the river through our River Explorers programme. Join a passionate team of volunteers and staff in Worcester. Help to lead sessions for school groups, and other young people, and teach the next generation about the river-Severn. See more information about getting involved.

Diglis Island Guides – We plan to recruit volunteers to help at Diglis Island in Worcester. Once visitor facilities are complete, we’re planning to host public open days on the lock island, enabling people to learn more about the important role it played in the history of the region’s waterways and the lives of the people who worked there. We need the help of warm, friendly and enthusiastic volunteers to make this possible. Volunteers will attend open days on the island, provide a point of information, and working with the team to make sure visitors have a safe and enjoyable visit.  Register your  interest and we can contact you once we start recruiting volunteer island guides.

Register your interest for current and future volunteering opportunities.

Here are some ways volunteers have already helped the project:

Fish monitoring 2019 – volunteers helped monitor shad movements and numbers at Upper Lode weir in Tewkesbury by counting the number of shad seen going over a notch in the weir. The human count was used alongside radio tagging of shad, DNA tests on water samples, and high-tech fish counting equipment to estimate the migrating population and better understand shad behaviour

Freshwater wildlife surveys – Thanks to the help of volunteers we were able to do freshwater Mussel surveys around Powick weir before any work took place there. This checked for rare species so that we could move these amazing creatures upstream to avoid disturbance. We’re also supporting a growing network of riverfly volunteers who help to monitor the health of the river.

Stories of the Severn – 36 volunteers across three counties have been delving into the archives in Gloucester, Worcester and Shrewsbury. The volunteers all share an interest in the River Severn: some grew up close to the Severn, others have worked on or by the river. Learning new skills, or building on previous archive experience, the volunteers explored the catalogues ordered historic documents to examine. Building on personal interests, volunteers chose different lines of research to pursue, all relating to the river. We look forward to sharing facts and stories with you on social media, the website and as part of Unlocking the Severn exhibitions and send a big thank-you to all the volunteers for their diligent investigations.

Canal & River Trust Explorers – 4 volunteers from the Worcester Explorers team have already supported our educational activities. These volunteers have experience in inspiring young children and are giving their time helping the next generation experience the magic of the waterways.

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