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Downlands Partnership - volunteer task programme

Autumn 2019

The Downlands Partnership works with volunteers to carry out countryside management work across NE Surrey (Tadworth to Tatsfield) and in the urban fringe neighbouring London boroughs of Croydon and Sutton. Why not join us in this valuable and enjoyable work by checking out our Downlands Partnership Volunteer Task Programme Autumn 2019 (PDF) to see what great practical countryside volunteering activities we have on offer to try this season during October to December 2019.

There is something for everyone to enjoy, with tasks taking place all across the partnership area. There is lots of scrub clearance, woodland management and pond restorations. This is the season for clearing scrub from our chalk grassland sites, in order to ensure the survival of this rare biodiverse habitat, which are a riot of colourful flowers, butterflies and other insects during the summer.

We recommend trying a scrub clearance task first if you are new to practical conservation work, but all tasks are suitable for all ages (over 16s unless accompanied by an adult please) and abilities, as you can work at your own pace and you will be shown exactly what to do. You do need to be fairly fit and enjoy getting out and about in the great outdoors.

Please do give us a call on 01883 341140 for a chat if you have any questions about volunteering with us or alternatively email us: downlands@surreycc.gov.uk. There is no fixed commitment, you can come and join in as often as you like. Exercising whilst socialising in our friendly free green gym with like-minded people has recognised widespread health and well-being benefits and of course, greatly benefits the glorious rare habitats too.

Everyone is welcome and we can accommodate corporate and local/school groups by arrangement, plus students completing their Duke of Edinburgh awards and work experience/voluntary training placements. Please kindly note that not all scheduled tasks are suitable for groups, so please always contact us initially to further discuss the best options for your group to consider.

Full details on how to get involved, what to wear/bring etc and site location information can also be found in the programme. Also take a look at our Countryside Partnerships Volunteer information page for general information on what to expect from countryside volunteering. Please also see our SCP Health and Safety Guide for Volunteers (PDF) and Surrey County Council's Volunteer Promise (PDF).

To gain a real insight in to our Downlands volunteering task days, please visit our Downlands Partnership countryside volunteers Facebook page plus we recommend you have a look at our short YouTube film as well. Our thanks to Alice who used to work at VARB (Voluntary Action Reigate and Banstead) who kindly produced the film for us.

We look forward to welcoming you along with our conservation crew very soon.

Conservation grazing with sheep, goats and cattle

The Downlands Partnership has its own grazing family led by Grazing Officer Sean Grufferty and Grazing Assistant Connor Harrison.

We currently have a flock of over 180 animals, comprising Herdwick, Beulah Speckled Face and Jacob sheep, Sussex cattle and British Feral goats. We manage an extensive conservation grazing programme to maintain and restore rare chalk grassland habitats for our partners, including many Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) across NE Surrey, Croydon and Sutton plus in Bromley too. We completed our lambing season in April/May at our Surrey County Council owned holding farm, Old Lodge Farm near Carshalton/ Banstead, and were very pleased to welcome 72 new bouncy balls of fleecy joy to our flock!

You can follow and find out more about the Downlands Partnership Grazing family (staff, volunteers and all the animals, including the new lambs in action) on Twitter @Downygrazers and on the Downlands Partnership Grazing Facebook page.

Should you be interested in helping us to look after our animals, we currently have around 100 voluntary stock checkers that we have trained to help us to monitor our animals when they are grazing on sites across the partnership area and more are always welcome. The voluntary stock checkers work on a rota arrangement seven days a week, 365 days a year, so their support is vital, rewarding and much appreciated by the Downlands Partnership. Please contact the Grazing Team direct on 07968 832692 if this is of interest and to find out what current rota opportunities are available.

We also welcome voluntary placements from students studying animal/countryside management, so please do contact Sean or Connor if you would like to join them on day release from college or for short or longer work experience/training placements.

The Downlands Partnership Grazing team can be contacted direct by email: downlands.grazing@surreycc.gov.uk.


You could support us from your sofa too!

We are always looking for further monetary support please to fund the purchase of essential items such as tools, materials or even more animals to help us to continue conserving the lovely local landscapes.

If you are unable to help by taking part in practical conservation work, you could please kindly consider supporting the Downlands Partnership by taking up a membership or by giving a donation to our registered independent charity partner, the Downlands Trust.

The Downlands Trust was established in November 2008 and is run by six voluntary trustees that actively support our countryside management work; they work hard raising funds through memberships, fundraising and local outreach activities in partnership with us.

The Downlands Trust and Downlands Partnership attend targeted public events together to spread the word about the work of both organisations and to promote volunteering and membership opportunities.

The Downlands Trust recently funded the purchase of a large selection of new tools and equipment to support our work, including tree poppers, extendable loppers and some great new Downland Partnership "volunteers at work" signs. The Trust also made generous match funding contributions in 2017 and 2018 to essential targeted winter scrub clearance work by contractor at Quarry Hangers SSSI in Chaldon and to the supply and installation of replacement livestock fencing by contractor at Stagbury Field, part of glorious Chipstead Downs SSSI.

The Trust is currently looking for an additional voluntary trustee to join their board and help with various administration tasks, so please do contact the Downlands Trust direct if this is of interest. Please also have a look at the Downlands Trust Facebook page to find out more about their charity work and latest news.

Many thanks for your support.

Files available to download

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