Don't fancy volunteering outdoors? There are plenty of roles for volunteers to help out in RSPB reserve cafes. We have reserves throughout the UK and we are always in need of extra help… in roles that you might not immediately associate with volunteering for the RSPB!
There is always a need for bird experts or complete novices, for people looking to enhance their CVs and for people with a little bit of time on their hands. So, whatever your age and experience, there is a role for you.
RSPB reserves with cafes are found throughout the UK and there is a wealth of opportunities to help. Our reserves need volunteers who can meet and greet visitors, serve tea and cakes, sell binoculars and telescopes, help with stocktaking and much more.
So what do our existing volunteers think? Grace Salter who volunteered at Rainham Marshes says: “I just love everything about coming to Rainham Marshes, the people the place, it’s lovely! I enjoy doing things and meeting people and getting out and about. I love wildlife too and always have wildlife holidays so this combines my interest in wildlife and a chance to meet new friends.”
Chris Kent, Catering Development Manager, talks about exciting news about coffee in our cafes. “Out here in catering land we are poised, like a coiled spring at the dawn of an exciting new era in catering for the RSPB! We have 12 cafes around the country that are simply fabulous for the perfect punctuation to our visitor’s day out and about with nature.
You may not associate food with saving nature but you should! What food we choose to buy has a direct impact on the planet and what’s more every single penny of profit that we make in our cafes is ploughed straight back into our amazing conservation work.
Soon we will have our own brand of coffee across all of the business, this will be available in our cafes and shops, online and eventually in your local supermarket, what’s really exciting about this coffee is that it is particularly helpful to Mother Nature and all wildlife.
Why’s this?! I hear you ask... well, I’ll tell you! This is because it has been grown in the shade rather than the traditional environment for coffee growing the “sun farm” or “eco desert” as it is referred to in conservation circles, nothing else can really survive here apart from the coffee plants themselves. Coffee grown the shade under the natural tree canopy plays a key role in the conservation of migratory birds, which find a sanctuary in their forest-like environment. The RSPB are the first to import, roast and serve it in our cafes!
So come and volunteer at one of our cafes and you could become part of the next chapter in the UK coffee revolution! Our cafes are an oasis within an oasis, good food, responsibly sourced in the heart of nature!”
How can you get involved? Here are a few of our current volunteering opportunites, click the links to find out more.....
Cafe Assistant, Leighton Moss reserve in the North of England
Shop/Retail Assistant - Conwy reserve in Wales
Catering assistant – Riverside Café, Rainham Marshes reserve in the South of England
Café Volunteer - Pulborough Brooks reserve in the South of England
Catering assistant, Titchwell reserve in the East of England
Cafe Assistant, South Stack reserve in Wales
Not found what you are looking for then visit our full list of volunteering opportunities that are updated daily.
We have many volunteers involved in the RSPB’s pin badge scheme who make sure that all our badges are displayed in shops all around the UK. So it’s no surprise that the public are coming across the badges and wanting to use them for parties, schools, weddings and funerals. This is great news as we are more likely to receive the full £1 suggested donation on these requests.
We have now had nearly 100 wedding favour orders in the past two years and all of these have been put together and despatched by Colin Hawkins.
Susan Sutton, Community Marketing Development Project Manager says: “Without his help in dealing with all our special order requests I could spend at least half a day each week picking and packing the orders. With schools and our local groups also wanting large badge orders, I am reliant on Colin to make sure we have enough of all the right stock.
We are also selling badges on ebay (rspb | eBay) and this is proving very popular with nearly 300 regular customers. Colin, along with my home based volunteers Christine and Heather deal with all the ebay orders and we make sure that they are all despatched within 5 days”.
Can you help us with your management skills? We need a 'people person' to manage and support a team of community fundraising volunteers. We have lots of volunteer box 'minders' looking after the RSPB's pin badge & collecting boxes, we want to support them with volunteer Area Co-coordinators’.
In this role you will ensure they have all the resources they need, from ordering more stationery/badges etc for them; co-ordinating income reports; recruiting volunteer to cover sick or holidays; to be on hand to answer questions (over the phone, by email or meeting up).
You'll look after the minders, liaise with and update the community fundraising team at regional office each month and ensure the boxes raise the most money they can, encouraging minders to move them to different sites if they don't do well.
If you are happy to talk to people, can motivate and enthuse them about the RSPB, can encourage everyone to be proactive about expanding this important scheme and are meticulous in your record-keeping, then you could be who we need. You will take the initiative and talk to managers at pubs, tourist attractions and other venues that might be willing to have one of our badge boxes, then find someone to look after them. Could you promote the scheme to people, enlist people you meet, or persuade existing volunteers if they might take on another box? If so, you could be perfect!
Charles Mossman, Area Co-ordinator for the RSPB's pin badges in Mid Devon, with team member and retired RSPB Local Group Leader, John Maxwell, take time out from looking after their regular badge boxes to spend time at Exmoor Zoo. Several of the team go about four times a year during the school holidays. They've found that it's a great way to meet people and tell them about what the RSPB does. Having a badge board and tombola can make a big difference to income, raising more in a day than some badge boxes raise in a year. They are also great at attracting people over for a chat.
Being an Area Co-ordinator can involve advising team members, ordering kit, collating income reports, placing new boxes and interviewing potential volunteers. For those wanting to get more involved, as Charles does, there is the chance to get the team involved in organising and/or attending events.
Can you help us minding boxes? We need enthusiastic and motivated volunteers to look after or place boxes for us in shops, cafes, vets, pubs, hotels and leisure centres. If customers are walking through a door then a charity box can be successful.
Just 30 minutes every 4-6 weeks to pop into a site, re-fill the box and bank the cash. It is also a great way of meeting new people and having fun, at the same time making a real difference towards the work of the RSPB.
All we ask is that each volunteer manages a minimum of 4 boxes at a time in the community and at work. Can you place boxes in your local shops, or have one on the reception desk at work?
If you think that either the Area Co-ordinator role or Box Minder role is right up your street please email email@example.com or contact your Community Fundraising Officer their telephone and email addresses can be found here.
To find out more about our Pin Badge Scheme please click here now. To find out what other volunteering opportunities there are in your area, then click here.
If you would like to be part of our local volunteer fundraising teams, we have activities that you can do all year round, or for just two hours once a year.
If you'd like to go one step further and get your adrenaline rush while fundraising for us, how about a bungee jump, skydiving, or abseiling?
Pulse-quickening activities are great ways to raise awareness of nature and our work - and great ways to raise sponsorship funds. If you've got the nerve to do it, we can give you all the support you need!
Back down to earth, if you can give just two hours of your time, you could join hundreds of other supporters in our Save Nature collections.
Want to know more then visit our web page here for lots of ideas and inspiration.
Here is an insight into how you can get involved.
Stepping over the edge for the RSPB – Abseil
Back on a balmy September afternoon during 2012 a group of 7 intrepid adventurers steeled their nerves to get a bird’s eye view of Belfast as they descended 130ft from the city’s iconic Europa Hotel.
Spurred on by their cheering friends and families the fundraisers conquered their fears to feel the adrenaline rush of stepping over the edge for nature. The group raised over £700 between them and became the first ever RSPB abseilers in Northern Ireland. Well done for such a fantastic effort team!
Relay Teams run the 2013 Deep River Rock Belfast City Marathon
Two teams will be stepping up (and out) to raise vital funds for the RSPB this May Day in the Deep River Rock Belfast City Marathon.
‘Birds Aloud’ team member Judith explains why she’s running for the RSPB: “This world is the only one we’ve got and we have to look after it. The unique thing about nature is that it connects everyone together, regardless of what they have or have not. We wanted to run in the marathon and realised we were stronger as a team running a leg each rather than as individuals running the whole thing alone so we decided to join together and raise as much as we can for the RSPB. We’ve each set ourselves a personal fundraising target of £100.
All the money we raise will make a difference to the wildlife on our doorstep. Look out for our RSPB vests along the route on 6 May and be sure to give us a wave as we tackle each leg of the marathon course!”
Mersehead Sponsored Walk
18 walkers put a spring in their step on Saturday 16th of March when they took part in the RSPB ‘Boots and Barnacles’ sponsored walks held at Mersehead Nature Reserve in Dumfries & Galloway.
The walks went round the Coastal Trail with views across the Solway and had special access on the day to parts of the reserve not normally open for the public. During the sponsored walks, participants discovered the conservation efforts taking place on the reserve through various activities at checkpoints along the route. One example was the beach art, displayed in this picture.
The event raised almost £1000 that will be used to help continue the conservation work at Mersehead Reserve.
‘Boots and Barnacles’ was kindly supported by the Scottish Government, National Science and Engineering week and the British Science Association.
The event will be taking place again in March 2014, watch this space for more details nearer the time.
In the meantime why not take part in the sponsored event taking place at Baron’s Haugh Reserve, near Motherwell in June 2013.
Every year, the fantastic energy and enthusiasm of supporters like you help us raise over £1.5m of donations to help nature and wildlife.
Whether you'd like to fundraise alone, with friends or with colleagues, or whether you're a teacher or business owner, we can offer a host of fundraising ideas and activities.
Some fundraisers have done physical activities like running a marathon or swimming the channel. If you want to follow in their footsteps and you have your own place then we can support you with fundraising materials.
If you want something less demanding, you could be a volunteer collector, or open up your garden and charge an entry fee.
Click here to find out more about In Aid Of fundraising. You will find all you need to know from ideas, to guidelines, and sponsorship forms. Remember every little bit helps J
Here are some examples of how other people have been getting involved, please feel free to share in the comments below any ideas you have or how you have or are going to fundraise for wildlife.
Dr Stuart Blackmore (a very valued member) from Llanelli, Wales has very generously donated us his birthday money!
Stuart celebrated his 60th birthday last year by hosting a bird-themed party, and instead of asking for the usual gifts, he asked his friends and family to give him money that he could later donate to local wildlife charities.
Stuart donated £250.00 to RSPB Cymru and to thank him we presented him with a Limited Edition Golden Curlew pin badge.
Running rings around competition to raise money for local nature reserve
Mark Mitchell ran rings around the opposition as he took part in one of the toughest ultra running challenges in the country and raised over £600 for the RSPB Lochwinnoch nature reserve where he works as an Information Officer.
Mark completed the 50 mile fell run at the Montane Lakeland 50 Ultra Lake District Challenge as part of a team of four including other RSPB staff members from across the UK. Considered one of the toughest ultra running challenges in the UK, the difficulty of the course means that over half of the competitors fail to complete the full run.
Mark completed the run in 17 hours, 4 minutes and 11 seconds, even managing to spot some raven and pied flycatcher on his way. He said: “The work the RSPB does can be seen by all of us, no matter where you are in the UK. Whether it's chaffinches and bumblebees in your back garden, or otters and kingfisher down on your local river, the wildlife around us enriches our lives and it is something we should be working incredibly hard to conserve for future generations”
“My body is broken but more importantly we beat our fundraising target! The stunning views were truly inspiring and made it more bearable. The thought of all the people who supported me was the real thing that kept us going though. Thanks so much for all the support everyone. "
Paula Baker, Assistant Site Manager at RSPB Lochwinnoch, said: “The team here are delighted that Mark chose to fundraise for the RSPB during his run, and even more delighted with the fantastic sum of money he has managed to raise. He quite often cycled to the reserve from Glasgow during his training, which is no easy task.”
Mark has so far raised a massive £625.93 which will be going towards conservation at the RSPB Lochwinnoch Reserve.
To find out more about challenge events in Scotland click here
Jack's Marathon des Sables - 6 days in the Saharan heat - his own mini-migration, to raise money for the RSPB
Jack Roper, from South Devon, is running the Marathon des Sables, a 6 day ultra-marathon across the Sahara desert covering 150+miles in early April. It is ranked by the Discovery Channel as "the toughest footrace on earth". These events are great opportunities to raise money for charity and this year he is fundraising for the RSPB.
As the RSPB speaks up for nature in the UK and further afield, conserving wild places through science, campaigning and public engagement. Jack believes we all have a responsibility to protect our green spaces, particularly with issues such as climate change, urbanisation and agricultural intensification becoming ever more significant.If you can sponsor Jack on his relatively mini trans-saharan migration you will be 'Stepping up for Nature' and making him very happy! The smallest contribution makes a difference and will be greatly appreciated. http://www.justgiving.com/JackRuns2013
When asked about the his adventure, this is what Jack has to say:
Well the answer to this is simple but comprehensive and my blog explains all (http://jackrunsmds.blogspot.com). In a nutshell I'm doing this for the experience and because I have craved the achievement ever since seeing the event years ago on Trans World Sports!
What you're really looking forwards to about it?
It will be great getting to know the other runners, my tent mates and enjoying some good camaraderie. I think these aspects of the event will be a major player in getting me through the rough times out there on the sand. It's been three years in the making getting to this point and there have been plenty of highs and lows. I have ran across some stunning landscapes and had to combat several injuries but now, I’m just looking forward to getting out there.
What you're not looking forward to?
The midday heat I guess and it's ability to sap the energy out of you. I have no problem roughing it in the desert, sleeping in the sand and eating freeze dried food but those moments you get as a runner when you’re seeking inspiration to pull you through a lethargic slump can be really tough and I expect to experience the worst of them out in the Sahara. I have a short-term memory when it comes to running though and I'm hoping I’ll have forgotten how those pains feel by each new morning where I’ll be raring to go.
Why did you choose the RSPB to fundraise for rather than any other charity?
I began volunteering with the RSPB in 2011 not knowing a great deal about the organisation. I immediately became inspired by the RSPB's work, people and ambitions where I was offered opportunity after opportunity to expand my experience and knowledge within the conservation and public engagement sector. I'm a massive believer in bringing people and nature closer together and for me the RSPB does this better than anyone so when it came to choosing a charity to run the Marathon des Sables for, it was an easy decision.
Cake and Charity
A group of Queen’s University, Belfast, postgraduates recently married two of their great loves – cake and charity – to host a fantastic bake sale in aid of the RSPB.
Working through the night cake clubbers let their creativity lead the way to produce some incredible works of art from raspberry jam toadstools to birds’ nest buns to a really wild mud cake topped with a pair of mischievous hippos!
Simply asking their fellow students to fill their plates in exchange for whatever they could afford the group raised a magnificent £192 which will go toward supporting our local conservation work.
In my last blog we told you about what our children get out of their involvement with the RSPB and our youth groups. This time we asked our volunteers ‘what inspired you to become a youth leader?” Read on to find out what they had to say .....
If our volunteers make you feel inspired yourself then please visit our volunteering pages and check out our current vacancies www.rspb.org.uk/volunteering.
If you have volunteered with children please do leave some comments and share with us what it was that inspired you and what makes it all worthwhile.
Adrian Slater, Leader at Boston Wildlife Explorers since 2005
“It could be said my failure with my three sons, and I don’t mean that in any bad way I am extremely proud of the three of them and the way they have turned out.
I started volunteering in 2004 with the South Lincs Local Group after I had visited the ABB at Kirton Marsh. The enthusiasm of the volunteers there showing us the Montagu’s Harriers was inspiring. The boys were at the age where they didn’t want or need dad trailing them all over the place for football and all the other activities teenagers get into, so I found myself with spare time on my hands. I joined the RSPB as a member and started volunteering with the local group at the Aren’t Birds Brilliant event.
Whilst volunteering I spent some time with like minded people, and as we chatted between visitors it became very clear, although from different backgrounds we all felt very strongly about the wonders of nature and how children didn’t seem to get the opportunity to see it. It was then that we agreed we should start up a Wildlife Explorers group and try and give children the chance to experience some of the wonders.
As a result Boston Wildlife Explorers was born, which has built up to a very successful group covering an age range of 4-16! The group meets once a month at the RSPB reserve at Frieston Shore with an average attendance of 40 young people. They are a great bunch and I am proud to share their passion for nature and conservation.
Although I was unable to pass on my interest in nature to my sons, once the next generation arrives I’ll try again! “
Megan Carroll (17), Junior Leader at the Old Moor Wildlife Explorers since January 2012
“It was a ‘who’ more than a ‘what’ which inspired me to become a junior leader.
Having been a regular at Old Moor reserve since being a Wildlife Explorer myself, I took my eight year old sister and a gaggle of her friends round for a guided tour. A member of staff who has always nurtured my love of nature spotted me, and told me about the volunteering vacancy for a junior leader with the relatively new WEx group.
The next thing I knew, my application was in the post! I wanted to give it a try because I used to love it when people older than me encouraged me in something that is perceived as very “uncool”. Being a junior leader means I can show the children how nature, in fact, is the coolest thing in the world!
I’ve loved every minute. From showing the children how to use binoculars, to creating PowerPoint presentations, to retrieving glitter and scraping half-dried PVA glue off tables, I’ve had the chance to master some practical skills and experience teamwork with the other leaders which will stand me in good stead for later life.
It’s so uplifting when you see a new member look nervously around the room at the beginning of a session, and leave with a smile on their face saying, ‘Guess what? It’s not just me, they’re all into nature too!’”
Nicole Brandon Assistant Leader in the Edinburgh Phoenix Group since June 2012
“I became a Youth Group Leader with RSPB after seeing the enthusiasm and devotion of the volunteers and young people who make up the groups. Growing up, I never had a regular opportunity to take action for the natural world that I could see suffering all around me, or a chance to make connections with others who felt my love for nature. When I saw that I could help give this opportunity to others in such good company, I jumped at the chance. The people who inspired me to join them were the volunteer leaders and teenage Wildlife Explorers who wanted to launch Scotland’s latest Phoenix group.
As one of the founding leaders with the newly-fledged Edinburgh Phoenix, I’ve been part of us coming together as a group and getting to know our new home at Hermitage of Braid nature reserve in the heart of Edinburgh. Since July, we’ve designed and built a raised garden bed with hand tools in the freezing sleet. We’ve done botanical surveys in the stiffest of breezes. We’ve sown seeds in torrential rain. We’ve learned to spark fires with flints and firesteels in the snow. We’ve even foraged for brambles on a lovely, sunny day. It has been hard work, and not everything has gone perfectly, but our group is so hardy and friendly it doesn’t need to in order for us to have a wonderful time and to make a difference to our natural world and our understanding of it.
For anyone else who missed out on these chances earlier in life, I’d suggest getting involved with RSPB Youth Groups in your local area if you can, because there’s no reason you should miss out on these chances now!”
Tina Hanak RSPB Leader with the Macclesfield Wildlife Explorers since 2005
“So how did I get involved? My two sons started attending our local Wildlife Explorers Group after I bought them RSPB membership as a Christmas gift.
The meetings were a great mix of learning about nature, playing environmental games and getting creative with clever and effective crafts. It was fantastic seeing the boys and the other children getting so much out of the meetings and I was keen to help out.
The Leaders were an impressive bunch - really effective at communicating their own enthusiasm for the natural world. Involvement in the group re-awakened the enjoyment I had discovering wildlife and wild places in my own childhood and affirmed the aspirations I had for the boys to grow up appreciating and caring for nature and the environment.
It has been incredibly rewarding to work alongside others who are equally passionate about encouraging the next generation in learning about their world. We all have different levels of knowledge and expertise but the common denominator really is enthusiasm! Macclesfield RSPB Wildlife Explorers has been going for a long time – it started back in 1986 - but the leaders were welcoming and supportive and I was made to feel a valued part of the team from the outset.
Best of all it has been a real privilege to have the opportunity to help connect children with nature. These connections make a difference and are, I reckon, our best shot at a future where nature still matters.
Show a six year old a sea anemone opening in a rockpool, their first view of a collared dove in a telescope or help them catch a grasshopper in a summer meadow and you'll understand what I mean.”