Start Making a Difference in Conservation with The Conservation Volunteers (TCV)

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Logo: The Conservation Volunteers

By Alex Poole, Marketing Executive

Group of volunteers planting trees at a Volunteer Day
Volunteer Day in Leyton, March 2022 (TCV)

Given the current economic and environmental anxiety gripping the UK, we are seeing more and more people and corporations recognise the importance of wildlife and conservation.

However, despite the surge in popularity, getting qualified and started in the industry is difficult at the best of times. That is where we, The Conservation Volunteers come in.

We bring people together to create, improve and care for green spaces. From local parks and community gardens to Local Nature Reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest; from school grounds and hospital grounds to waterways, wetlands and woodlands; we connect people to the green spaces that form a vital part of any healthy, happy community.

Our team of dedicated, passionate staff and volunteers work with communities across England, Northern Ireland and Scotland and, through our Community Network, we support local community groups across the UK.

We offer a wide range of environmental activity across the UK, where people can learn how to protect and enhance their local greenspace and biodiversity whilst also learning new skills, getting fitter, engaging with their environment and meeting other like-minded people. We can measure this impact across four key areas:

Training session with people standing in a circle listening to a man holding a spade
Leadership Training Day at Skelton Grange, 2018 (TCV)

Communities: Communities are stronger, working together to improve the places where people live and tackling the issues that matter to them.

TCV brings residents and other stakeholders together to provide them with the practical expertise, resources and the training they will need to engage in sustained social action that creates a real positive difference.

Volunteering in your local community through a TCV programme provides you with the opportunity to learn new skills and network with others who are also interested in conservation and biodiversity. On top of all that, you can gain leadership experience as a Key Volunteer by taking on a leading role in local projects while gaining more skills and experience.

Environment: Through the work of TCV, green spaces are created, protected and improved for people and for nature

TCV delivers practical volunteering programmes with extensive roles to allow volunteers to grow and develop to take on more than a casual volunteer, providing people with everything they need to play an active role in creating, protecting and improving green spaces. Including, working on a wide range of wildlife habitats and tree planting across woodlands, hedgerows, grassland, waterways and wetlands. We offer not only Key Volunteer placements, but also Volunteer Officers, where you can learn to lead and manage a project by shadowing staff and participate in TCV’s core training modules including First Aid, Project Leadership, Safeguarding, Risk Assessment and others.

Group of volunteers clearing out plant life and trimming hedges
Skelton Grange with National Grid, October 2021 (TCV)

Health & Wellbeing: People improve their physical and mental health and wellbeing, by being outdoors, active and connected with others.

A wide range of TCV activities, like our Green Gym programme, supply opportunities to improve physical and mental health and wellbeing through physical activity and social interaction. As a Key Volunteer, Volunteer Officer, or as simply a Volunteer, the opportunity to develop skills, improve your knowledge, and learn the benefits of outdoor activities not only for physical health, but mental wellbeing too.

Learning & Skills: People improve their confidence, skills and prospects, through learning inspired by the outdoors.

TCV can only make an impact through the hard work of our dedicated volunteers, which is why we deliver a wide range of learning and skills through non-accredited and accredited training courses. Increasing the knowledge base of our volunteers helps us to do the conservation work necessary to protect, manage and improve local green spaces.

We offer opportunities to increase skills and experience through our Key Volunteer and Volunteer Officer positions, as well as local staffing positions.

Volunteering with TCV is not only a fantastic way to experience the conservation industry but also greatly increase your skill base. TCV supplies volunteering opportunities to all who want to get involved in practical conservation work to improve local green spaces.

Picture of Abi Young
Abi Young at a training day at Skelton Grange, 2018 (TCV)

Abi’s Story

Abi joined TCV in 2019 as a Natural Heritage Trainee at Skelton Grange Environment Centre. Abi boosted her confidence and learnt new practical skills leading groups outdoors. She also progressed her communications and media skills which contributed to her obtaining future work in the conservation sector.

What do you feel you got from your time volunteering with TCV?

I really connected with my fellow Heritage trainees as we were all young and unsure of which direction we were going in life. However, we all had one main thing in common: a love for nature. This love for nature was encouraged and developed through TCV Skelton Grange. Having your ‘office’ as a beautiful woodland full of wildlife and plants was really important for my mental health and I loved coming to work at Skelton, dearly missing it on the days I wasn’t there! The staff at TCV Skelton Grange are deeply knowledgeable about conservation and supported our development as volunteers through high quality training and close support and mentorship throughout. I was given the opportunity to get involved in as much as possible, most memorably the social media campaign which gave me the skills to take the lead as one of the social media managers at a new job.

Has your volunteering helped you progress onto anything else and how?

As a result of my time volunteering with Skelton Grange, I secured my first graduate job as an environmental educator in Singapore. Although this was put on hold due to COVID-19, I was quickly offered a job as a TA at a primary school back home. The skills and confidence I gained from leading school groups and practical conservation sessions has enabled me to thrive in these jobs and I couldn’t be more grateful for the experiences I had that have moulded me into the person I am today. I am now motivated to bring outdoor education into the national curriculum as I have witnessed first-hand the positive impact it has on students and feel this is lacking in the lives of the younger generation. The experience I have from volunteering gives me the confidence and knowledge to make this possible.

Whether you already work within the conservation sector or whether you are looking to make your start, find out how you can get involved here.

TCV YouTube channel: Wildskills (gives you an idea of what you can expect when working with TCV) 

First published in CJS Focus on Volunteering in association with The Conservation Volunteers on 6 February 2023. Read the full issue here

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Posted On: 18/01/2023

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