Its been just over a year since the RSPB launched its Campaign Champions programme, which aims to mobilise people to step up, campaign and take action for wildlife. In this time over 200 people in over 130 constituencies have registered as campaigners to help support and protect the wildlife they love.
Campaigning is at the hear of the RSPB and it really does make a difference. It’s something we’ve been doing since 1889, when Emily Williamson started campaigning to ban the barbaric trade in feathers for ladies hats. Since then we’ve come a long way including:
These past successes show that you can really make a difference!
Most recently our Campaign Champions and Activists have been busy collecting signatures for our Safeguard Our Sea Life Campaign, and so far they have collected over 2000 signatures for this vital campaign. Some of our campaigners even got to question the Minister responsible for Marine issues, Richard Benyon MP, at a live Question and Answer session.
Our Campaigners have also been campaigning on crucial areas including the vital Rio+20 Earth Summit that took place in June this year, encouraging our world leaders to embrace sustainable development. Others have been campaigning on the reform of the European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), writing to their MEPs calling for greater protection to farmland wildlife. All of these actions are part of the RSPB’s biggest and most ambitious campaign ever, Stepping up for Nature. The ultimate aim of this campaign is to halt biodiversity loss by the year 2020, but to do this we need your help.
The success of our campaigns depends on many people taking small steps that together make the big difference. We are still actively looking for people to become campaigners and have two very exciting roles for you to choose from,
Both roles have the potential to make a big difference as proven by the success of our current Champions and more Champions mean more success which means a better future for our wildlife.
For more information and details on how you can step up and become an RSPB Campaign Champion please go to www.rspb.org.uk/campaignchampions telephone the Parliamentary Campaigns Team on 01767 680551 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Falling in love with Pagham by volunteer co-ordinator Roger Johnson
I’m not sure when I first fell in love with Pagham Harbour but it was certainly more than 20 years ago when I was bringing up my then young son as a single parent. Although very much a townie, I’ve always loved the countryside and I was keen to give Dan the chance to share my enthusiasm. We became regular visitors both at weekends and during the school holidays. Gradually as he grew older, he developed other interests too so the visits became less frequent until I hardly visited at all. But then I had the chance to retire some 3 years ago and I began to revisit on a regular basis the places I had enjoyed back then. There is a seat on the Tramway and near to the kissing gate looking out over the Harbour to Pagham that I regard as just about my favourite place where I can sit and let the world pass me by. It’s an idyllic location.
Anyway, one Wednesday afternoon on the way back from a walk I popped into the visitor centre for a cuppa and got talking to Margaret, a volunteer steward. Somehow, we got on to chatting about volunteering and it turned out that they were looking for someone to fill a slot in the visitor centre on alternate Wednesday afternoons. She suggested that I might like to think about it. Well, I did think about it and the rest is, as they say, history as I now volunteer in the visitor centre every Wednesday! A natural progression for me next was to start helping at some of the varied events we put on here, both for children and adults. Helping at the children’s events led me into volunteering with the education team, which I love. I don’t have any formal teaching qualification but I like to think that I can pass on at least a little of my enthusiasm to the children. Being a big kid at heart I especially enjoy the mud sifting and the pond dipping activities or a paddle in Pagham Lagoon searching for beach beasties. I enjoyed a magical moment there when we had a school visit of 7/8 year olds from Dorking some of whom had never even seen the sea before. I’ll not forget the look of sheer wonder on their faces as they searched, knee deep in the water, for crabs or other creatures.
One Wednesday when I arrived for my stint, I was called over to talk with Kathy, my volunteer manager. At first I wondered what I had done wrong so I was surprised, to say the least, to be asked if I would like to consider taking on the role as volunteer, ‘Volunteer Co-ordinator’. I took a while to think about it before, somewhat reluctantly at first, agreeing to give it a go. That’s where I am now and I hope I’m growing into the role, using the organisational and managerial skills I developed during my working life.
I thoroughly enjoy volunteering with the RSPB. It’s rewarding and I love working as part of a friendly team. Why not join us?
This months' guest volunteering blogs come from the beautiful Sussex coast as Rob Carver tells us what volunteering at Pagham Harbour means to him....
Many years ago (I won’t say quite how many!) I worked as a volunteer on my local waterway – a site particularly rich in rare wildlife and popular with the public. It’s a time I look back on with great fondness and it kick-started my career in conservation. I was able to bring my own skills to promoting the work here while at the same time gaining valuable experience for the future. Volunteering really did ‘open up my world’.
Now as Manager of Pagham Harbour it’s really rewarding to support volunteers and help others gain some of the many benefits of volunteering that I experienced, as well as seeing how individuals can bring their own skills to the different roles we need. And what a great bunch of volunteers we have!
My involvement with the Reserve began when I worked here as a student and Assistant Warden over 22 years ago! I had a wonderful summer. So I understand why people love this special place and are drawn to volunteer here. And thank goodness for that, as without volunteers giving their time, expertise and enthusiasm we wouldn’t be able to achieve even half of what we do – showing the public a great time, inspiring school children, recording wildlife and managing the land. In fact volunteers are our most precious resource – our lifeblood.
We are now seeking more Volunteers to help with our work recruiting RSPB members, promoting ourselves in the community, leading walks and events, carrying out wildlife surveys and assisting the public on the Reserve.
It’s an OPPORTUNITY TO WORK ON AN AMAZING SITE, SEE fantastic wildlife close at hand, HELP the conservation of this internationally important wetland and work of the RSPB, and MEET PEOPLE FROM ALL WALKS OF LIFE.
Doesn’t get much better than that, so do come and join us, we can’t do it without you!
Rob Carver Manager – RSPB Pagham Harbour
Further to my colleague Josie's blog i thought i would add a few more words from our amazing group volunteers.
Paul Barrett from the Airedale & Bradford Local Group says "I never volunteered for anything. My work/life balance was just fine. That was before Ruth announced the imminent closure of our Local Group at one of our indoor meetings: there were not enough people to run the group. I enjoyed the talks and walks that the group organised so, along with a few others, volunteered to help out.
I never realised how much I had been missing out on. As a committee member, I attend every indoor meeting. I used to pick and choose, not attending the meetings that sounded less interesting. I've discovered that many of the 'less interesting' meetings are, in fact, the MOST interesting. Volunteering was a life changing decision. A closer involvement with the organisation has made me much more aware of what the RSPB is all about, it's more than just birds. I now spend quite a bit of my 'spare time' working for the RSPB, befriending like-minded people and enjoying a much more active life. Volunteering has been a life-enhancing experience."
and our award winning volunteers Mary & Dave Braddock from the North West Surrey Local Group said after the RSPB's AGM " It was a very humbling experience to know that we had been nominated for this most prestigious award because of doing something that we enjoy. We don’t think it has sunk in yet. Volunteering for the RSPB in our house comes naturally. We have a passion for wildlife and the environment …and so does the RSPB! We believe in the RSPB strategies and find the people who work in the organisation so enthusiastic that it is infectious. It is an organisation we feel we belong in."
Pauline Wilson, Secretary of the Orkney Local Group wrote to say: “I am delighted that we had a really successful two days of bag-packing at Tesco Kirkwall. Members of our group and most of the staff of RSPB Orkney did a brilliant job and we managed to raise a total of £1305.28 which was beyond our expectations but very welcome. The people of Orkney are so generous - we even had £5 and £10 notes in our buckets. I have enjoyed organising these events and hope I am able to do it again in 2013.”
Pictured Maggie Currie
If you would like to find where your nearest groups is, click here!
Congratulations to this year’s winners of the prestigious RSPB President’s Awards which were presented at the Society’s AGM in London on Saturday 6th October.
The RSPB President’s Award is our chance to recognise those volunteers who have made an outstanding contribution to the work of the RSPB. In effect it is the RSPB’s equivalent of a volunteering “Oscar” and we only give out six each year!.
Here is the low down on this year’s winners:
Husband and wife team, Mary and Dave Braddock met through their local group in 1996 and have since worked together in a huge range of volunteering roles on our behalf. You name it and they have probably done it – as well as both having full-time jobs: Dave works for Thames Water and Mary is a primary care nurse with the NHS.
As joint Leaders of the North West Surrey Local Group they present the RSPB as a fun and exciting organisation. Their passion for wildlife conservation and support for the RSPB is borne out in everything they do, and they are always willing to step up to new challenges and take on new initiatives. An avid gardener, Dave grows hundreds of quality plants in his wildlife-friendly garden each year, which he and Mary sell on to family, friends and workmates, raising more £7,000 for the RSPB over the past eight years. Their own garden is a case study on how you can provide habitat for birds, a wide range of invertebrates, hedgehogs and even a grass snake.
Denise Chamings has been volunteering for us for 28 years in a wide variety of roles, and as Leader of the South Somerset Local Group since 1994 – which she treats more like a full time job. She doesn’t so much lead the group as guide, motivate, encourage and inspire everyone to get involved, readily supporting suggestions from members and always among the first to put the group forward for pilot projects. She even took our Local Group Manual on holiday recently to review it for headquarters staff!
Denise also leads a successful team of fundraisers who have raised thousands of £s to support the work of our Somerset reserves and the Great Crane Project. It’s not uncommon to find her at local events extolling the virtues of the RSPB and passing on her love of nature to children and parents alike.
Colin Hawkins has undertaken no fewer than 19 different roles since he started volunteering with us in 2008, regularly donating 86 hours of his time every month at our headquarters in Sandy. There’s just no stopping him - he’s the one you go to when you want something done. He brings enthusiasm and vigour to everything he does, drawing on his wealth of project management experience to complete tasks both efficiently and effectively. One of his current roles is administering the Donated Binocular Scheme run by our international team, in which second-hand binoculars and telescopes are sent to BirdLife Partners across the globe. I’m told he does this with a minimum of fuss and a creative lack of bureaucracy. He also assists with fundraising initiatives and has helped to expand the popular pin badge scheme by monitoring stock levels and servicing orders. In addition, he can regularly be found applying his practical skills on our nature reserves, helping out at reserve events, or active on the committee of his Local Group.
Quietly beavering away in the east of England is a real unsung - and unseen - hero, Andrew Wilkinson. He’s regularly out at the crack of dawn monitoring elusive farmland birds, or tucked away in the corner of our regional office in Norwich, quietly engrossed in a book on ecological statistics.
Andy bravely gave up a 30-year career in biochemistry to focus on his passion – birds! He spent a year volunteering at our Titchwell reserve, sharing his passion and knowledge with visitors, and then jumped at an opportunity to undertake farmland bird surveys. Since then, he has designed new methods to monitor farmland bird populations and is continually trialling new ways to support farmers, to demonstrate that wildlife friendly farming measures deployed at the right scale and in the right places can work for a wide range of species. Andy’s warm and approachable manner endear him to all, particularly the farmers and landowners with whom he works. His knowledge and expertise are well respected and he fulfils a key role in underpinning the work of our farmland team in Eastern England.
Date with Nature assistants, Love Nature collectors, Pin Badge minders, Local Group events organisers, Web Stock counters and Bird Friendly Schools volunteers are all roles that Margaret Winwood and Patrick Jones have undertaken since they started volunteering with us just over four years ago. Both are keen birders and their passion shines through infectiously when engaging with people of all ages. They are hugely committed, adaptable and hard working individuals and their enthusiasm and flair for recruiting new members and supporters is second to none. They have personally recruited several hundred new members over the past four years - an outstanding achievement in its own right – and were our best local group recruiters last year. With a “can do“ attitude, both will turn their hands to whatever needs doing, simply rolling their sleeves up and getting stuck in.
Ron Price volunteers in Northern Ireland’s Conservation Office where he started with data entry & has diversified in many directions to the widely appreciated, multi-faceted role he holds today. His many roles now include data entry, mapping on GIS, filing and administration, research and field surveys.
Ron’s attention to detail has meant that he has become increasingly involved in mapping across several species including breeding waders, yellowhammer & lapwing. He is reliable and shows great commitment & willingness to take on anything from very mundane filing to fieldwork & research. He’s completely at home on reserves & will undertake anything required. He has good identification skills & sound ecological knowledge such that he’s been able to help with hen harrier surveys, V&FA surveys, and a local project in the Lagan Valley. Over time he has expanded his skills and gone on to benefit the BTO, for whom he does BBS, WEBS and Atlas work, being one of the team that really helped cover the gaps in NI Atlas coverage. This is enormously important in the struggle to ensure sufficient data to evidence trends in support of RSPB policy and advisory work.
Having taken on a piece of research to support a theory about the past presence of Red Kites in Northern Ireland, the resulting work was published in the Irish Naturalists’Journal 2008 (Price R & Robinson J - The persecution of Kites and other species in 18th century co.Antrim.). This work was a key piece in the jigsaw that enabled Red Kite reintroduction in Northern Ireland and Ron became part of the small team helping with their collection from Wales, subsequent care, release and monitoring.