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Northumberland Wildlife Trust Volunteer Position - The Community Ambassador

Logo: Northumberland Wildlife Trust

The community ambassador role was launched by Northumberland Wildlife Trust in 2019, as part of a brand new initiative aimed at recruiting members of the public to become wildlife advocates in their local area. Created as part of the 2020 Heritage Lottery funded project, led by John Gibbon, NWT seeks to expand its brand awareness and bring in new communities to join the wildlife movement. The main aim of the role is to bring in individuals as volunteers who are happy to spread the word about the work of the Wildlife Trust in their local communities and influence others to do their bit for wildlife too.

Margaret Dove Volunteer – Credit Fiona Dryden
Margaret Dove Volunteer – Credit Fiona Dryden

So what does the role involve? An ambassador may simply hand out leaflets or put up posters in shops, community centres, at local group meetings or other locations in their area. This may not seem like a monumental or complex task, but it is incredibly helpful to build our brand awareness and spread the word about our work and activities across a fairly sizeable area - Northumberland, Newcastle and North Tyneside. Other volunteers are happy to give talks to groups, which can be focused on a specific area the Trust manages, or perhaps a general run down of what we get up to. This way, new groups that we simply don’t have the capacity to reach currently, get to learn about our work. We also have a volunteer who is dedicated to our corporate programme. He works closely with John, investigating and trying to make contact with prospective new corporate partners with an aim to get them to support NWT through our membership scheme. We’ve been incredibly lucky to find someone who is very well connected across the corporate sector and he’s already been able to open up a number of discussions which we hope will lead to new, fruitful relationships.

The Community Ambassador role is perfect for someone who is happy talking to people and spending time trying to encourage others to support the Trust in whatever way they can. The emphasis is always on every little thing can help, be it displaying posters for an event or taking a collection box for the till, talking about our work at a local meeting or rallying the village or their place of work together to organise a fundraiser for us. There are so many possibilities!

This is a volunteer role which offers quite an element of freedom. We let the individual go out when they feel comfortable and only take on tasks they want to do. We don’t ask them to do everything, they can do as much or as little as they feel comfortable doing. John remains the main contact back in the office and will provide updates on all our work and communication materials as required.

Some people ask us what skills an ambassador gains throughout the role. We think it offers lots of opportunities for personal development if that’s what somebody is looking for. An obvious benefit is that the role can help build confidence with communication skills and actually is a great way to meet new people in their community. It also helps build an understanding of the work carried out by NWT, and for some it can help purely from a physical perspective, permitting them to be more active. And we hope it’s actually quite fun!

Tony Walton Volunteer – Credit Richard Clarke
Tony Walton Volunteer – Credit Richard Clarke

We have a number of Community Ambassadors already on board and they come from a range of backgrounds. For example, our Corporate Ambassador Tony has been volunteering with us for about 6 months now. He has a wealth of experience from working across the world in numerous charities and happily dedicates his Friday mornings to come into the Gosforth Office and help us. When asked why he chose to volunteer with us, Tony stated “This decision followed my years with Operation Raleigh where I worked in support of the Kakapo reintroduction project on Breaksea Island with the New Zealand Wildlife Service and in Guyana with Diane McTurk’s Giant Otter Conservation project. Those experiences and my local knowledge Northumberland and its business community made a ‘neat fit!’ Working with the NWT Team and in support of our wildlife and habitats is very rewarding.” As you can see, a wealth of experience which is helping us achieve one of our key 2020 project goals.

We also have Dorota, who runs a local stall selling crafted wildlife goods, and primarily works within the city centre area. In response to the same question she said “I had always been passionate about wildlife. I'm an artist and artisan, I frequently hold a stall on local market with my needle felted animals and I talk with people to raise awareness about declining populations and threats to wildlife”. For Darota, being able to chat to people about our work and the issues wildlife is facing really makes a difference. A perfect example of someone helping the Trust and feeling rewarded at the same time.

As you can see, this role is open to people regardless of background. We see people of all different ages, careers and genders who’re united by a common purpose, doing their part for wildlife. It might be a new position that the Trust hasn’t experimented with before, but it is already seeing great results. If you think you would be interested in the role and would like to find out more, feel free to contact John on 0191 2669689 or email john.gibbon@northwt.org.uk We’d be delighted to have you join our 2020 Community Ambassador team. No matter who you’re, everyone can stand up for wildlife!

First published in CJS Focus on Volunteering in association with The Conservation Volunteers on 10 Febraury 2020. Read the full issue here

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