What to expect
Our Countryside Access Team look after over 2,000 miles of public paths, with 1,400 bridges, 11,000 signs, 4,000 stiles and 3,000 gates. It's a mammoth task and we rely heavily on volunteers and particularly the Surrey Ramblers, to help out with maintenance. The level of volunteer support on the rights of way network in Surrey is one of the highest in the country.
There are currently two ways that you can volunteer for us. Volunteer Path Wardens work by themselves on minor tasks, many of which they identify themselves. They receive half a days' training, a regular newsletter and are covered by the council's insurance policy (see below).
Secondly, some of our volunteers who carry out practical work on public rights of way are members of organised groups, for example Surrey Ramblers, British Trust for Conservation Volunteers and local day centres. Work on paths is undertaken as and when suitable tasks are identified and our staff are available to co-ordinate the projects.
Spring 2017 Update. We need your help!
Additionally, we'd like to create a pool of volunteers who would be willing to help out with tasks such as putting in a gate or repairing a stile, across the whole of Surrey.
The idea is that there would be a list of contacts for each area. If a job comes up the Access Assistant could call three or four people and get a small group together for a simple task lasting a couple of hours during office hours on weekdays.
Volunteers would receive training so that they are covered by our insurance and probably have no more than 2 or 3 tasks a year. If this appeals to you or you'd like some more details, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our friendly Access Assistants will be happy to speak to you.
How can I work safely?
Work should not be carried out on rights of way without consultation and agreement with our Countryside Access staff. We produce Safety Guidelines for Volunteers Working on the Rights of Way Network. This information is issued to groups prior to work being undertaken. Please make sure you have read a copy. It is important to be aware of potential hazards and to work in a safe manner.
Insurance for volunteers
Volunteers who are working on rights of way with the specific prior written agreement of the Countryside Access Officers are covered by the Council's insurance policy for third party and personal accident risk. The policy does not cover anyone working on rights of way without the prior knowledge and agreement of Countryside Access staff.
The policy excludes death or disablement caused directly or indirectly as a result of intoxication, illegal use of drugs or exposure to unnecessary danger, other than in an attempt to save someone's life. The use of power tools is also excluded. However the cover does include the use of strimmers and battery powered drills. We can provide training in using these safely.
What happens now?
If your group would like to register an interest in getting involved, please fill in our general enquiry online report form. Volunteer work can be undertaken as and when suitable tasks are identified and County Council staff are available to co ordinate the projects. More information about volunteering in the countryside, either in a group or as an individual, can be found on our 'Volunteering in Surrey's Countryside' page.