Countryside Volunteering Network

Completed, People

Countryside Volunteering Network

Project Type

People

Project Funding

Project Funding

Project Brief

Bridgend County Borough Council has varied individual organisations providing services in countryside volunteering.

These include:

  • Bridgend Borough Council Countryside Volunteers
  • Kenfig National Nature Reserve
  • Bryngarw Country Park Volunteers
  • Wildlife Trust at Parc Slip
  • Keep Wales Tidy
  • Coity Walia Community Biodiversity Enhancement Project
  • Coed Cymru

Prior to establishing the Countryside Volunteering Network, there was no co-ordination of the organisations and on occasion, there was an overlap of services or a clash of events that took place.

Reach Help

The Network is a partnership facilitated by reach, who had identified the need to bring together the groups who provide countryside volunteering services. There were no direct costs to establish it, but reach provides the time and support from Mark Blackmore, who is the network’s co-ordinator. Leigh Forman who volunteers with several of the organisations explained “We were a group of similar organisations, all doing things independently and often not aware of what the others were doing.”

Outcome and Impact

The newly established network, which Leigh describes as a ‘volunteer hub’ now meets on a quarterly basis. “The meetings, though important, are just a part of the network’s activities,” says Mark. “We have started a blog, bridgendcountryside.com and members of the network send their events centrally through to reach, who then publicise them through the blog and social media. In addition, Leigh has developed a Google calendar, where all volunteers can view events.

The network has arranged several collective events, the first of which was ‘Bushwaka, a part of the Bushcraft Festival at Bryngarw Park. “Although the weather was dreadful, the park was filled, mainly with families who heard about the event through Facebook and Twitter,” added Mark. “It’s also interesting that on the bank holiday after that event, Bryngarw Park was the busiest it’s ever been.” Dunetreka at Kenfig’s Nature Reserve was also another major event and there are continuous ongoing activities such as hedge laying, tree planting and ‘Balsam Bashing’ and other special events, which take place. Having improved co-ordination and communication has helped raise awareness, recruited new volunteers and mobilised resources.

“We are much more effective and better able to tackle things as a network. As a volunteer, having co-ordination gives us access to far more people and we need events to get people out. They raise awareness of what’s going on and if you want to get involved, there are lots of opportunities out there”

Leigh Forman

Volunteer, Countryside Volunteering Network