What to expect as a countryside volunteer
Volunteers give their time for many reasons but all share a common goal - to make a difference to their local countryside. Why not consider joining a group local to you and make your own valuable contribution.
- It can be fun, social and offers a great opportunity for healthy exercise
- It can give you a great sense of personal achievement and self-worth
- It gives you an opportunity to develop new skills
- It improves your employability by giving you valuable experience and demonstrates a 'can do' attitude
What kinds of tasks could I help with?
These are the kind of tasks you may be involved with as part of a volunteering team:
- Boardwalk construction
- Clearing public rights of way
- Creating viewpoints
- Pond-dipping platform construction
- Pond clearance
- Step building
- Clearing invasive species from sites, such as ragwort and Himalayan balsam
- Tree maintenance
- Pine-pulling on heathland
- Indoor carpentry work in workshops
- Surfacing on bridleways
- Helping out at shows and fairs
You may also find opportunities to help look after livestock, such as cattle, sheep and ponies.
It's unlikely task days will be cancelled in bad weather!
How much time do I need to give?
The general answer is as much as you are prepared to give. Volunteer groups always need help and will welcome you with a friendly face, many cups of tea and coffee, nice biscuits and support.
What to expect
The information given here is general and probably relevant to most of them, but all countryside conservation groups will have their own set of guidelines for you to follow.
As a volunteer, you are entitled to:
- Be welcomed and feel valued
- Receive a relevant induction, including health and safety procedures
- Have your role for the day clearly defined
- Be treated with equality, fairness and dignity and given the freedom to discuss matters openly with your task leader
- Only to be expected to work at your own pace
- Feel free to raise any concerns with your task leader at any time and ask any questions you may have
- Expect a trained first aider and kit to be on site at all times
- Never feel that you are left alone to work without supervision
- Provision of Public liability and personal accident insurance
In return, you are expected to:
- Pay attention to your task leader and follow instructions
- Treat others with respect and thoughtfulness
- Take care of the health and safety of yourself and others
- Work at your own pace, within your own abilities, training and experience
- Make your task leader aware of any medical condition you may have
- Take care of any tools or equipment issued to you
Practical tasks can by physically tiring, particularly if you don't undertake this type of work regularly. Always work at your own pace and stop whenever you need to for a rest. Accidents are more likely to happen at the end of a day, when people are getting tired. Existing medical conditions should always be explained to your task leader, which they should treat in complete confidence.
It's likely your task will involve some sort of manual handling such as lifting, pulling, pushing and carrying a range of objects, often over uneven ground. Injuries may happen if poor technique is used. This should all be explained to you at the start of the day. Always seek help with carrying heavier loads.