Join Us

Make a difference by helping us monitor the health of the river and its biodiversity!

The Ripple Effect Project was created by researchers at the University of Sussex in partnership with Friends of the River Medway and Wealden District Council. With local communities we aim to assess the water pollution and biodiversity status of the Upper River Medway, identify the sources of water pollution on the river and engage the relevant policy-makers to develop pathways for sustainable change, which will ‘ripple’ out beyond this case.

We will testing three stretches of the Upper River Medway, including areas in  Ashdown Forest, Forest Row, Hartfield and Groombridge. The following map gives you an idea of sites (though these are not finalised and are subject to change).

We now have out first testing date! Please pencil in the 25th of March 12-2pm. If you have registered for the training you should have received an email with this info and we will follow up with more details next week.

Please check your junk/spam folders as many times our emails end up there.

We had a very successful weekend of training with our fantastic volunteers on the 9th and 10th of March at the The Ashdown Forest Centre.

If you couldn’t make this dates, but want to be involved, please fill in the form below. We are working on an online learning package that would be paired with some field experience. Watch this space!

Ripple Effect volunteering form

If you have any questions, please have a look at the FAQ section below or Contact us.

We are currently testing for water pollution on Mondays 12-2pm every two weeks and once a month we include freshwater invertebrate surveying.

With your help we will:

  • monitor water quality
  • assess and monitor biodiversity
  • investigate how care and connection to nature can lead to more sustainable pathways
  • identify sources of pollution
  • provide evidence for environmental regulators to increase penalties and accountability
  • intensify pressure for change towards healthier waterways.

What we ask

We ask you to:

  • participate in the trainings, one for water sampling, another for freshwater invertebrate surveying  and eDNA collection
  • commit to water sampling tests every two weeks at a particular site/s, time and date from March until September, and monthly biodiversity surveys from April until September. For this you need to be able to travel to and from the site and be able to walk in sometimes uneven and muddy terrain
  • record the data carefully.

What we will provide

We will provide:

  • training and kit
  • information about the site you will be testing
  • support throughout
  • help in interpreting results and their implications.

If you want to support this project and volunteer with us all you need to do now is provide your details by filling the form below.

Ripple Effect volunteering form

If you have any questions, please have a look at the FAQ section below or Contact us.

Data protection

Your data will be stored securely and all the requirements of the data protection legislation will apply to the processing of your personal data. We will only use this data to contact you for volunteer opportunities and information about the Ripple Effect project.

Essential Training

To become a volunteer you must complete the Ripple Effect Essential Training.

How can I start?

Get in touch through the volunteering form (above). You will receive an email from our volunteer coordination with the details and forms that need to be filled.

Go through the training materials (see below).

Watch the videos on how to do the measurements and using the kit. You do not need to feel confident with the methods but you need to have an understanding of what will happen. You will start with trained volunteers so that you get experience of it.

Understand health and safety risks (watch the video and fill the form)

Fill the forms (which include your details, consent forms + health and safety form) and send them back to the volunteer coordinator

Arrange a quick meeting to say hello and to answer any questions you may have

You will be included in one of the whats app testing groups and in the all volunteers group

Download the app to fill the data (details in training materials)

You will join us for testing. More experienced volunteers will show you the ropes.

The training materials include:

  • further information about the Ripple Effect project and research interviews
  • river sampling location sites
  • how to use the water monitoring equipment
  • health and safety
  • how to upload the data

Use the following link to start the training : Ripple Effect Essential Training.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do I need to be a certain level of fitness / age to participate? 

You will need to be able to get to the sites, and walk to the river to do the samples. We have chosen places that are as accessible as possible but they do require uneven and muddy terrain, as well as the mobility to get a river sample and do observations. The sampling is designed for adults, but there is no upper age limit!

Do I get to choose my location? 

We will be sampling three stretches of the Upper Medway (see above), with designated spots as we have particular characteristics in mind when we chose our sites. You have a choice as to what stretch of the river is more convenient/interesting for you and it might be possible to organise for you to take particular sites within this as well.

Will I be given a partner if I am signing up for the project? 

We ask that you work in pairs to make it safer. We will create groups per stretch and we will help you find someone to work with. If you have someone who you want to sample with, that is absolutely fine as well.

Can I bring my dog / children / family? 

We will be covering the risk assessment in the training and if you bear this in mind there are not any issues with bringing others with you.

What do I do if stopped on private land? 

We will have arranged access with all private landowners and in some cases we will have named volunteers and do introductions if necessary. If the landowner requires it, we can give you a badge or letter to take with you in the unlikely case this happens. 

Will I need to get into the water?

The sampling and invertebrate observations do not require you to get in the water. You might need to be nearer for the biodiversity observations, but no further in than the knee (and not everyone is required to do this). 

Will the days / times for testing always be the same, or will they change? 

The idea is to establish a time and day that works for the groups and that is relatively consistent, as we need this consistency for our methodology and results. 

Do I need any experience / expertise to be part of the project?

No, you don’t need experience or expertise. This is a citizen science project and we will provide the training and support for you to be part of the project. 

Will I need to be good with numbers / science to be part of the project?

No, you don’t! We need you to be willing to do the samples and observations, which we will give you training and support for, and to write down the results or add them in an app. 

Will I be given training in what to do? 

Yes, we will be giving you training. We have two dates to choose from – on the 9th and 10th of March. 

When will the training be? 

The training is scheduled for the 9th and 10th of March 2024 at Ashdown Forest Centre.

What happens if I am not available for a training session?

We really hope you can take the training as this is also the opportunity to meet others who will be taking part of the project and to get organised in groups. If you cannot make the training and you are keen and ready to volunteer we can find a way! Do sign up and let us know this is the case. We will also create training videos which will help you get a sense of what is needed and refresh your memory.

How long will the project run for? 

The project will run until the end of September, though the sampling might end sooner. However, this is a seed project which means we are hoping to get more funding to continue our work. 

Am I signing up for the whole duration of the project?

We hope you do! The idea is that you sign up to do the training and volunteer until the end of this first phase. 

What if I can’t measure on a date I have agreed to? 

We have a volunteer coordinator at hand to help, as well as – if you agree- a group chat – where this can be resolved by another person taking over your shift. This is the same in case you need to go on holidays, are ill or any other eventualities. 

Will my details be shared with other people? 

We take data protection seriously. We will ask your permission to share your phone number with your group in order to organise shifts but we won’t share your details with anyone that is not part of the project management without your permission.

How am I helping the river? 

The Upper Medway, as most rivers in England, is not in good health and is one of the least tested and studied. This project, with your help, will establish a much needed baseline of what is the health of the river in terms of particular aspects of pollution and its biodiversity. This is crucial to generate evidence, and add to the pressure for change, but also to establish what the problem is and where the river is most affected.  

What if it is really bad weather (thunder / lightning) when I am due to take a sample? 

We won’t ask you to take risks in doing the sampling, so if there is severe weather conditions, we will find a more suitable time to do the sampling. 

Will researchers / scientists ever want to come along when I am measuring?

Mostly, you will work independently but we like to be part of the project as well so we may come along! There are two master students involved who need to do some sampling and who might also come along from time to time. 

What will I get from the project? 

We hope you get a sense of satisfaction in contributing to establishing the health of the river, and in making a first step for change. You will also have the training and know how to measure river pollution levels and biodiversity observations. You will have a better sense of what is happening to the river and what it means. You will also  meet like minded people in your community who are working towards the same goal. 

Will there be a chance to meet other people taking part in the project? 

The project will be a mix of independent work – with a buddy – as well as opportunities to come together – through the training as well as a final workshop to celebrate and make sense of the work that has been done so far. 

Will I need any equipment to do the measurements? 

We will provide the equipment needed and train you to use it. 

How will I know where to park / access the river for my measurements?

We will provide a list of the sites as well as a description of the access and parking nearby.

Do I need to be able to drive / have a vehicle to access river locations?

There are locations that can be covered without a car, but many will require access to a vehicle/transport (bike). If you don’t drive it might be good to choose sites that are within walking/cycling distance.