By Tessa Woodward, CPRE Kent Membership Volunteer
CPRE Kent does fantastic work in our county to protect the countryside as well as campaign against aircraft noise, light pollution, environmental and transport concerns. We also promote tranquillity and a thriving rural sector with affordable housing and support for farming.
With more members and more volunteers we could do much more! So we are launching a volunteer and member drive. Will you help us?
Lots of people volunteer
After reading a piece in a magazine called ‘Country Living’ a while back, about people volunteering as helpers for riding for the disabled, as mountain rescuers, conservationists, and staff at bird observatories, I was reminded of how very many people volunteer with charities. Charitable associations as varied as hospices, prisons, brownie and cub-scout troupes depend on the goodwill, time and energy of volunteers. And many of us have benefited at some time or other in our turn from a helping hand offered by a neighbour or work colleague when children have needed picking up or lawns mown at fraught times!
So, why do people give of their time and energy for no pay? Partly out of an instinct for community no doubt, but also because we learn things, get the chance to do something interesting, enjoy the company, and find it meaningful! In one survey I saw it was even suggested that people who volunteered actually felt healthier and more cheerful as a result of volunteering!
Photos by Vicky Ellis
So, how do you start?
How do people become volunteers? Nine times out of ten people say it is “Because I was asked!” In other words it is not really ‘volunteering’ but rather ‘being invited to volunteer’. Please now consider yourself invited!
What do volunteers need?
Based on my own experience, I’d say important ingredients are: feeling good about a cause or an issue, being clear about what the task is, having a bit of time to contribute to it, having a skill or being prepared to learn a skill, having what a friend of mine calls team mindedness, that is, the willingness to work as a member of a team and, finally, a sense of responsibility about what we have promised to do.
Our stand at the Kent County Show 2015
What can make the experience rewarding from the volunteer’s point of view?
A sense of achievement, a bit of acknowledgement or recognition in the form of, say, a ’thank you’ from a team leader, the reward of belonging to a good team where you have a bit of fun, humour and celebration sometimes, personal and professional development gained from meeting new people and ideas and improving skills and a sense of meaning and purpose as you contribute your energy to protecting the English countryside. We promise to do our bit to make sure that our side of all this happens!
So how can I get started?
If you are interested in what you have read thus far and, like us, are passionate about the English countryside, why not get in touch with us? We are looking for volunteers who have a little time or lots of time!
Photos by Vicky Ellis
Examples of volunteer opportunities/things we need help with
help by coming along and staffing a CPRE stall at a local event such as the Kent Show, vintage fairs, village fetes, farmers’ markets
help our office to organise an event such as a garden party, an awards event or a photographic competition
organise a litter pick in your area, take photos and send them in
start a community herb/wild flower garden, take photos and tell us all about it!
become our events co-ordinator
become a CPRE Kent member
buy gift CPRE memberships for friends and family for Christmas, birthdays, and thank you presents
help in the Charing office to follow up on contacts made at local events
Writing and communications
write a blog post for us on an aspect of the Kent countryside
do an email interview on ‘Why I became a CPRE member’, ‘Why I volunteer for CPRE’ or ‘Why I have decided to leave a legacy to CPRE’
contact your local newsletter or parish magazine and ask if we can write an article about CPRE, free, for its pages
drop off issues of our periodical ‘Kent Voice’ and CPRE leaflets around your village/area
contact your Parish Council about it becoming an institutional member of CPRE
go into your local school and run one of our ‘Across the Generations’ projects for CPRE
send us the name of possible corporate sponsors you know
send us the name of any celebrity you know and would be willing to approach on our behalf
help us to join in with other conservation charities such as The Kent Wildlife Trust, or The Woodland Trust in their tree planting project
become our Outreach Volunteer
offer a prize for a CPRE raffle, quiz or awards ceremony
offer a donation once or regularly
tell us if you have special skills in e.g. photography, video editing, responding to planning applications, writing grant applications, competition judging
help protect the English countryside in future by offering us a legacy
Interested in these or other ideas? If so, come and join us! It’s fun!.
CPRE Kent is waiting to welcome you!
Contact Vicky Ellis on 01233 714540 or firstname.lastname@example.org