Saving lives and a canal

Bath’s MP Wera Hobhouse has been busy meeting local volunteers who are giving of their time to help our community.

The City of Bath St John Ambulance Unit is currently celebrating 135 years of service to the area.

Mrs Hobhouse was shown around the first aid and health response charity’s City of Bath Unit and discussed the role of local volunteers in the community, the first aid services provided and advocacy opportunities to support the Unit. 

During her visit, volunteers gave an overview of the history of St John Ambulance’s activities in Bath, delivered a demonstration of a resuscitation scenario and discussed the Unit’s community operations to help strengthen and enhance community first aid resilience in Bath. 

The Bath MP was briefed on the Unit’s latest projects, including its “Five Ways to Save a Life” a campaign delivered in schools, community centres to large public gatherings including Sydney Gardens, teaching the public first aid skills that could help save a life. In October, Volunteers will also be collaborating with the University of Bath to celebrate “Restart a Heart” , a campaign to raise awareness of cardiac arrests and help people acquire CPR skills. 

Mrs Hobhouse also learned about the unit’s youth programmes, St John Ambulance’s Badgers (5-10-year-olds) and Cadets (10-17-year-olds). The Bath unit opened its cadet unit in January and is now working to open a new Badger unit in 2024. These activities reflect the charity’s ambition for every young person to be first aid confident by the age of 25.

St John Ambulance trains 250,000 people every year and volunteers provided over 477,000 hours of first aid cover in 2022 enabling thousands of events to happen safely. Volunteers in Bath have played their part in enhancing community first aid resilience by delivering first aid training, supporting local events, and providing ambulance crews to support the NHS. 

Wera Hobhouse, MP for Bath, commented:
 “It was a pleasure to meet with St John Ambulance volunteers and cadets to learn more about the array of first aid services they provide in Bath and to see first-hand the dedication and commitment of its volunteers. St John plays a vital role in supporting the NHS and local communities”. 

“We have all seen them ready to provide first aid at local events across Bath and I am delighted to support the Unit’s “Five Ways to Save a Life campaign” and Restart a Heart activities to equip the public with vital first aid skills that could help save a life. I congratulate the City of Bath Unit on its 135-year anniversary and encourage people right across Bath to get involved with St John’s work to help save lives.” 
Ruth Foreman, Unit Manager, said:
We were delighted to welcome Wera Hobhouse MP to our City of Bath Unit. The Unit is extremely grateful to Wera for supporting our “Five Ways To Save A Life’ campaign and for her recognition of the contribution of our volunteers to the community as we celebrate 135-years of service to the City of Bath. 
“St John is known for its presence at events and providing first aid courses, but we offer so much more. Visits such as this give valuable publicity to encourage people to get involved.We are actively recruiting for First Aiders and Youth Leaders who are an integral part of the life of the community, and we encourage people of all ages to help us save lives.” 
To find out more about St John Ambulance’s clinically trained volunteers and their work please visit or contact

This is a link to their just giving page for a fundraising appeal for a new community support unit vehicle.

Elsewhere in our area, Mrs Hobhouse visited the Canal and River Trust to learn more about the works being done to improve the local canal.

During her visit, Mrs Hobhouse praised the active volunteers who put in an average of 12 hours a week to keep the canal in good order.

Over the last year there have been major works to the local canal, with substantial investment in the Bathwick area. But the visit came amid news of the government’s decision to reduce funding for the Canal and River Trust.

A government review released recently found that the Trust provides “value for money,” yet the amount of funding that was agreed upon was £300 million lower than expected. This poses a risk to the 80,000 jobs and £1.5 billion in annual economic contribution supported by the canals that the C&RT maintains.

Mrs Hobhouse noted that it is essential to support the C&RT in maintaining the canals to preserve its economic and ecological contributions. The decision to reduce funding poses a serious risk to the condition of the canal network and raises concerns about the possibility of canal closures.

She added :“Once again the Bath community is leading the way, with so many passionate volunteers displaying their unwavering dedication to our canals. The government needs to take note of their hard work and show that they care by reversing this disastrous funding cut.“

Canals are an essential part of our national heritage, providing significant benefits to our economy, communities and natural environment. Constituents have come to me with their concerns over the cuts, and I am appalled that the government would even consider neglecting our canals.“

We must work together to preserve the canal network and maintain its contributions to our society, including its provision of an alternative route to the road network and active travel.”

Mark Evans, regional director at the Canal & River Trust for Wales & South West, said: “We were delighted to welcome Wera to the Kennet & Avon Canal in Bath to meet our volunteers and staff and to see the excellent work they are doing to care for the canal in the local area.”

The recent news about the government’s funding cuts puts our much-loved canal network at risk. A reduction in grant funding of over £300 million in real terms will threaten the future of the nation’s historic canals, leading to their decline and to the eventual closure of some parts of the network.”

Our canals are places in our towns and cities where people can relax, get close to nature and feel the health benefits of spending time by water. We’re calling on the public to join our campaign to Keep Canals Alive so we can secure the support they need to avert the decline that we saw during the last century and so they can continue delivering substantial benefits to the economy, to people and communities, and to nature and biodiversity.”