March, 2012

Volunteering

Volunteering
Love volunteering? Here's your chance to connect with other volunteers who feel just like you. Or if you've not taken the plunge yet and have a question about getting involved as a volunteer, ask away!

Volunteers

  • The RSPB Wants YOU! - Professional & Specialist Volunteers

    In the current economic climate, people are looking to add to their CV, broaden their skills and experience and offer their “expertise” to charitable organisations. Why not challenge yourself and make new contacts too!

    So what do they do, who are these people?
    Someone just like you ..... The traditional professions were doctors, lawyers, clergymen and commissioned military officers. Today, the term is applied to, architects, accountants, educators, directors, social media gurus, designers, engineers, scientists, social workers and many more.

    To make best use of this growing pool of potential volunteers, the RSPB needs to be prepared and flexible to help them make the most of their free time while job hunting. Professional volunteers are often only available for short periods, so we are encouraging staff to think about projects that can best utilise their skills.

    Can you offer your “expertise” to the RSPB?

    Angus Robin did, he contacted the RSPB, keen to volunteer.

    He says “The RSPB has given me a great deal more than my membership cost over the years, and I wanted to give something back. I explained that I am a Doctor, as well as being a keen, but amateur, birder, and wondered if the RSPB were planning any conservation projects in remote places, where my medical skills might be handy.

    It wasn’t long before I was contacted about a research trek to remote north-eastern Nepal, in the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area, where we would be working with Bird Conservation Nepal (the Birdlife International partner in Nepal) to look at species abundance. BCN has a tiny staff, so any work like this needed foreign help.

    The research team was made up of two Nepalese Birders and a five-strong British contingent – myself, two members of the RSPB, Richard Winspear and Paul Collin, in addition to Tim and Carol Inskipp, authors of ‘Birds of Nepal’. Carrying our supplies was a team of porters, led by two sherpas and a mountain guide, not to forget the cook and his assistants.

    I was the only team member who’d never been to Asia, and in this company I was initially worried that I’d very quickly be exposed as a fraud! These fears were completely unfounded, I was made to feel very welcome and as ‘an extra pair of eyes’ I certainly felt useful. Of course I made errors, but these were swiftly forgotten – even when I invented a new species of redstart at the end of a tiring day!

     The route we took, taking three weeks, climbed up a valley to 12,000 feet before crossing a high mountain pass, well above the snow line; it then descended a different valley system, all in the shadow of Kanchenjunga, the world’s third highest peak.  The trek was physically demanding, far more than any of us expected, but the incredible scenery and wildlife made tired limbs quickly forgotten.

    There’s no way I can easily summarise all that we did and do it justice, it was far too rich an experience.  Particular highlights for me include seeing over two hundred new bird species, crossing a mountain pass with clear views to Mt Everest, meeting friendly and enthusiastic foreign conservationists, watching the moon rise over a mountain range, and being woken with a cup of tea every morning.

    It would be unfair to forget the challenges this trip presented, and, besides the 60,000 feet of total ascent whilst trying to recognise bird species I’d never seen before, I was very grateful that my medical skills were only rarely called upon.

    Treating nine people for snow-blindness at high altitude was certainly stressful, but other than that, sore knees and flicking leeches off was the worst we suffered! I think I can honestly say that the most worrying time on this trip was waiting for my lost bag of trekking equipment and medical supplies to arrive in Kathmandu before starting the trek!

    I will definitely be volunteering with the RSPB again as I feel that I got a lot out of this project, even more so because taking the time to do this has helped a conservation effort in a beautiful but threatened habitat.”

    So what other professions get involved and share their skills and knowledge with us?

    • Pilot - We used a pilot with his plane to fly Red Kite chicks as part of one of our reintroduction projects.
    • Barrister - Part of our Legal Advisor Team in Volunteering Development that advises on any criminal conviction a volunteer has declared.  We also have a Solicitor and a Police Superintendent as part of this team. 
    • Quantity Surveyor - Our Land Agency team have a few qualified surveyors that assist us by advising on buildings and work to be undertaken.
    • Health & Safety Advisor - In Northern Ireland we have a fully qualified volunteer in this role.
    • Film/Video Maker - Ex YOC (now Wildlife Explorers) member who now has his own production company volunteers with us assisting with video and audio podcasts on our website.

    To find out what is available please visit www.rspb.org.uk/volunteering.

    Can’t find what you are looking for?

    We would love to hear from you, let us know if you have skills and expertise that can assist us with Saving Nature and making a difference for wildlife. Our email is volunteers@rspb.org.uk.

  • 101 Things to Do with a Bucket

    Midland’s Community Fundraiser, Dana Rock is looking for 101 interesting things to do with a bucket...now there’s an invitation! Add Love Nature Week to your Bucket List...and help the RSPB save nature.

    Ride a camel? Cycle across America? Have a species named after you?

    Like many folk, I have a ‘bucket list’ of 101 things to do before I die. This is not an off-the-shelf coffee table tome but a homemade list of life-fulfilling happinesses.  I put some really easy stuff on my list (like riding a camel, very easy - once you’ve sourced the camel). And, thanks to someone’s great foresight, my favourite species was already named after me before I was born (Rockhopper). Thus far I have been whizzing through the list at such a rate that I am set to finish before I turn 50. So to pre-empt an early demise I thought it best to write another Bucket List… but with a twist…

    Above my office desk I have a shelf stacked with Big Yellow Buckets. Most of the time they just sit there, gathering dust and spiders, but every so often they get taken down and filled with shiny pounds and pennies. Their next outing will be Love Nature Week – 9 days of fundraising fun from 26 May until 3 June 2012. Last year we raised an impressive £35,000. Yesterday the website went live and even before lunchtime I had 5 lovely people get in touch. So those lovely buckets will be getting out soon. Collecting oodles of dosh for the UK’s largest (and, dare I say, best) nature conservation charity is one thing you can do with a bucket. But what else could they do in life?

    Give me a chisel to make a small eye-slit and you could have a hi-vis jousting helmet. Perfect for the Health & Safety conscious knight…

    The humble bucket has far more to offer than ‘merely’ collecting money and dust. Over the next few months I’ll be writing a list of 101 Things to Do with a Bucket and I want your suggestions…

     What would you do with a bucket? I’d love to hear your suggestions. Send me your ideas by posting a comment or tweet me @RSPBMidlands. The best ideas will get drawn and posted.

     There is only one caveat: you cannot use your bucket for anything sensible.

     If you’d like to borrow one of our bright yellow RSPB buckets to help save nature in your local patch then go to www.rspb.org.uk/bucketcollections to find out how you can get involved.

    Dana Rock

    Community Fundraiser

    Midlands Region