A £1 million two-year project to link together parks and green spaces in Southall via the Grand Union Canal will be launched on Monday with a canal-side information event taking place from 1pm-2.30pm at Havelock Green Space, Havelock Road/Isambard Road, Southall, UB2 4GF.

The event on Monday 25 July will be the start of a programme of engagement and workshops to encourage people to get involved in shaping what the future canal improvements will include, together with a proposed range of community wellbeing activities.

Partner organisations Canal & River Trust, Ealing Council and its Let’s Go Southall programme, and housing association Catalyst will demonstrate a mindfulness session, together with a multi-faith blessing to launch and celebrate the project.

The Southall Wellbeing Way project was awarded £700,000 of Green and Resilient Spaces funding by the Mayor of London in March. The improvements will provide opportunities for Southall’s community and visitors to lead more active lives and boost their wellbeing, while enhancing the biodiversity and climate resilience of the area.

The Southall Wellbeing Way will connect Spikes Bridge Park on the Grand Union Canal Paddington Arm to Glade Lane Canalside Park and the Hanwell Lock Flight. The route will also link Southall Recreation Ground, Bixley Field, Havelock Canalside space and Norwood Top Lock.

Local people will be empowered to step away from the urban streets and connect with nature. The funding will be used to integrate the canal with nearby green spaces and to carry out a series of enrichments, including waterside place-making, creating new habitats for wildlife, works to the towpath to improve the surface and allow better access to the canal, play and interpretation, flood resilience, and gardening and stewardship to allow nature and people to thrive.

Ros Daniels, Canal & River Trust regional director for London & South East, said: “In urban areas, perhaps more than anywhere else, canal towpaths provide breathing space and a chance to connect with nature. The Southall Wellbeing Way will encourage more people to get to know their local canal and enjoy the benefits of being by water.

“I’m delighted that with funding in place we are now able to start delivering this project and opening up this green and blue space to communities who may not have used it in the past and provide towpath improvements which will mean it is more accessible all year round.”

Councillor Peter Mason, leader of Ealing Council, said: “Securing the future of our beautiful green spaces will always be a key commitment for the council, which is why I am delighted to have secured this funding to transform our canals and towpaths in Southall for the benefit of residents and local biodiversity.

“This project will link a section of the Grand Union Canal to a range of parks in Southall, meaning that local people will have easier and quicker access to vital green spaces and nature on their doorstep. High quality, accessible canals and towpaths are also really important networks for local people, particularly those using more active forms of travel.

“We are ensuring that Southall, and its residents get the investment and support that they deserve. Our ongoing partnership with the Canal & River Trust and Let’s Go Southall, which is empowering local communities, businesses and volunteers to make a real difference, is allowing us to do just that.

“We would also remind everyone to take care around water at all times and follow the guidance, particularly during the current heatwave.”

Councillor Deirdre Costigan, cabinet member for climate action, said: “Cycling and walking are fantastic ways to get around, keep fit and build exercise into the daily routine – all whilst helping to reduce carbon emissions and fight the climate crisis, which has been brought into even sharper focus with the recent extreme temperatures.

“Like many, I discovered myself during lockdown how wonderful walking along the canal can be, full of wildlife, shady trees and gorgeous views. These significant improvements we have secured for the canal and towpath network in Southall will make it easier, quicker and more pleasant to move around the local area for residents, whether they are getting on a bike, going for a walk or just stepping out to enjoy the nature on their doorstep.

“The project will also protect and enhance our biodiversity in and along these canals and waterways, which I know is a really important local habitat and has significance on a London-wide level.”

Nicola Wheeler, Head of Community Investment for Catalyst, which is a subsidiary of the Peabody Group, said: “We are inviting local people to join us in shaping and delivering this fantastic project – whether it’s putting forward ideas for outdoor activities, helping us design the enhanced canal-side spaces or volunteering to take on a stewardship role in future. By working together, we can maximise the results of our efforts now and secure the best possible long-term benefits for the community and the environment. Our launch event and forthcoming workshops are the perfect opportunity to find out more and get involved – so if you are interested in participating, please come along.”

Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy, Shirley Rodrigues, said: “I’m delighted to see this fantastic project get under way. It will provide so many benefits to the local area, including enhancing climate resilience, improving access to nature which is beneficial for people’s health and wellbeing and providing a vital habitat for local wildlife.

“Southall Grand Union Canal Wellbeing Way is one of six large-scale projects across London funded by the Mayor’s Green and Resilient Spaces Fund. Each project will strengthen London’s climate resilience, increase biodiversity, improve access to green space and build green skills.

“As London experiences the impacts of climate change first-hand, it’s essential that we improve the quality of our green and blue spaces to ensure they help our city adapt to heatwaves and flooding.”