Celebrating Volunteers’ Week 2020 and Thinking Ahead

By Alison Matheson, SNH Policy and Advice Officer

Today sees the start of Volunteers’ Week 2020.  Volunteers’ Week is an annual celebration of the contribution that millions of people make across the UK through volunteering.

Over the last few months, volunteers have made a critical contribution to society by helping with shopping, prescription collecting, and other key tasks, for our most vulnerable people.  Over 76,000 people signed up – in just one month – for the Scotland Cares Campaign.  Not everyone has been offered a volunteer role yet, but it’s so reassuring to know that they are there to be called on if needed.  What an amazing response to this call for action in these difficult times.  Well done, and thank you everyone.

I hope that all of you wonderful volunteers, and prospective volunteers, have been able to find time to get outdoors for exercise. It’s outdoor volunteering, as we emerge from the current crisis towards a green recovery, that I’m keen to consider today.

When outdoors for your exercise, there were probably things you noticed in your local area that could be improved, once government restrictions allow.

  1. Perhaps litter is a problem near you. Consider clearing it up, or when restrictions allow, organise a community litter pick.

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    TCV volunteers collecting litter and planting wildflowers on urban grassland, Easterhouse Glasgow, May 2018. ©Lorne Gill/SNH

  2. If you’ve noticed a path you think would benefit from some maintenance (blocked drainage, overgrown vegetation etc), contact the land manager, and when safe to do so, organise a community path work party
  3. Lots of us have enjoyed hearing and seeing wildlife in our local areas, perhaps noticing things more than ever. When restrictions ease, working with others in your community to encourage more homes for wildlife in your local area such as ponds, wildflower areas, trees, bug hotels, could be an option.
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    A bee hotel for Red Mason Bees (Osmia rufa) at Upper Battleby. May 2018.                   ©Lorne Gill/SNH 
  4. In the interim, to stay within government guidelines, you could contribute to citizen science projects from home.
  5. Pollinators might have been going crazy with the delight of less rigorous grass cutting and weed killing.  You could contact the managing authority to see if this can continue.
  6. You may have noticed that the air has been cleaner. Spread the word about air quality.
  7. When allowed, you could encourage more active travel by helping young people learn to ride their bicycles safely or help look after the National Cycle Network.

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    A family cycling at Monikie country park, Angus, Tayside and Clackmannanshire Area. ©Lorne Gill/SNH

  8. If you spotted any Invasive Non Native Species (INNS) when out exercising, report them and when safe to do so, consider helping remove them.

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    A Loch Leven NNR volunteer removing himalayan balsam from the shores of Loch Leven National Nature Reserve, August 2019. ©LorneGill/SNH

There are many resources and organisations that will help you with volunteering once government restrictions ease.  Some organisations who welcome volunteers are detailed here and the Volunteer Scotland website is a good resource to search for volunteer roles by topic or postcode.

June is also 30 Days Wild month, so until we’re able to get out to volunteer and take wider direct action for nature, this challenge will encourage you to do one thing each day for nature at home.  Go on, give it a go!

Happy Volunteers’ Week 2020 to you all, and thank you so much to everyone who gives their time to make our world a better place.

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