I remember being blown away when I first found out about the amazing contribution that Local Groups make to the RSPB. Local Groups are spread all across the UK, working in their local areas to promote and support the work of the RSPB. I’m always impressed by how much a group of like-minded people can achieve through working together to support nature conservation. Local Groups organise events, talks and field trips for people in their local area, and raise money through fundraising activities and selling RSPB products as well as lots of other stuff. All this work makes a real difference to the RSPB and their local communities.
So why would you want to get involved with your RSPB Local Group? Jenny Curtis saw an advert for Deputy Group Leader with Grimsby Local Group on the RSPB website four years ago and decided to take up the challenge:
“I’d never been to a local group before, so I have to say I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Would everyone be bird-mad? Would my general ignorance about bird spotting be a hindrance? Would I be made welcome in a group which didn’t know me? I soon found out the answers (probably, no, and yes)!
When our Group Leader decided to stand down, it was my turn to step up! By then, I’d got to know people (and what friendly people RSPB members are) and felt confident enough to lead the group myself. With my amazing committee behind me, I was able to concentrate on co-ordinating all the activity, answering queries from the public, leading committee and group meetings and so on. As with any organisation, there are ups and downs; but unlike many other organisations I’ve worked with, there is always someone to turn to for help.”
Are you feeling inspired? There are lots of different ways to get involved with your Local Group, either by attending meetings and outings, joining as a member or becoming part of the committee. There are a wide variety roles available on Local Group Committees – see this list for a taster:
Barbara and Len Murray are Joint Newsletter Editors for Wakefield Local Group, and have found the experience both challenging and enjoyable:
“One of the rewards of being involved in the Local Group is having some say in how the group is run as well as enjoying leading meetings and giving the vote of thanks. Taking on the newsletter editorship has made me much more aware of all kinds of information which is available either in hard copy or online about many aspects of nature conservation. I now comb all the publications we receive to highlight items which might interest our readers and, coincidentally, this increases my own knowledge. One challenge has been to improve my computer skills – would you believe I didn’t even know what a PDF was when my husband and I took on this task in 2006!”
If you want to find out more about what Local Groups are doing in your area, then have a look on our website . Local Groups across the country are looking for people passionate about nature conservation to get involved on their committees, so have a look and see how you can make a difference.
I’ll let Jenny Curtis have the final word: “So, why join a local group (whether on the committee or otherwise)? Well, most of all it is getting to know a great bunch of people who are as keen and knowledgeable about birds, their habitats and the work of the RSPB as you are. Listening to speakers at indoor meetings, going on outings to great reserves, sharing tea and biscuits and all the time knowing that all these activities are going towards furthering the work of the RSPB as a whole is very satisfying as well as enjoyable. Would I recommend getting involved in a local group? Yes, definitely!”
Many thanks to all of you who helped make Love Nature Week a great success this year. Over 600 of you stepped up and donated almost 2,200 hours of your time to take part in our street bucket collection. You collected over £35,600 in total!
That’s fantastic news for wildlife. All the money raised is being spent in the region it was collected, helping the nature near you that needs it most.
Anyone can take part in a bucket collection – all you need is a big smile, just like the smile that comes naturally to one of our amazing volunteers, Philippa Pickworth.
Philippa has been helping nature for many years. She believes in living and working in an environmentally friendly way – read here about the steps she has taken that have earned her self-catering cottages a Green Tourism Award. She is also a dedicated RSPB Pin Badge box volunteer. This year she went a step further, and helped out with a Love Nature Week bucket collection in Aberystwyth.
Nice weather for ducks?
Like many collectors, Philippa found that boots and raincoat were essential parts of the kit this year, as the weather on the day was truly atrocious. But it didn’t spoil the fun, or the fundraising!
She told us: 'The wind blew and rain came down — the perfect June summer day! Despite this and a week of flooding to dampen even the liveliest of spirits, the people of Aberystwyth gave generously and asked questions and shared stories.
Kids gave their coppers in exchange for a sticker, some gave their silver to empty their pocket, many dropped a golden nugget or two in my bucket.
The lovely ladies of Pets At Home made a hot cup of coffee to warm my fingers. It seems the people of Aberystwyth really do LOVE NATURE!'
That’s the spirit!
This captures the spirit of our bucket collections — putting the fun into fundraising, and helping save nature together.
The next step
We’re looking for even more volunteers this month to take part in our Together for Trees bucket collections on 21 and 22 September. All money raised will go towards protecting rainforests around the world. Register to save a forest today here!
Interested in helping The RSPB with their Together for Trees collection? Gabrielle Layzell let us know what its like holding a collection bucket...
The first time we collected for the RSPB, we thought it would be a good idea to dust off the fancy dress, we hoped this would attract attention and help bring in more donations. I dressed up as a bat and my friend Kat went for the lady bird look.
We’d already received our fundraising kits in the post. This provided us with everything we needed and gave us all the information we required to get started.
Armed with our collection buckets, we hit the streets of Hitchin in Hertfordshire. The weather was very kind to us as it was a lovely warm, sunny day. Our costumes raised eyebrows from some and smiles from others. It wasn’t long before the donations came rolling in.
We had a few interesting encounters with members of the public. We attracted the attention of a friendly dog. As the owners kindly threw some change into our buckets, they told us all about their dog called Blue, a renowned attention grabber whose tail never stopped wagging! You can see him posing here with Kat. He was adorable.
Children were also bemused by our lady bird and bat alter egos. They were all very keen to have their pictures taken with us and in return, we gave them some stickers which they were very happy with and displayed proudly around Hitchin town.
After our fun filled afternoon, we felt quite tired, but happy in the knowledge that we had Stepped Up for Nature. We counted up the contents of our buckets and took them to the nearby Post Office. We handed over our paying in cards and donations, which were banked directly to the RSPB. The last thing to do now was to go to the pub for a celebratory drink... still dressed as a bug and a bat of course! ;-)
Kent prisoners ‘step up’ and make homes for tree sparrows
Inmates from HM Prison, Rochester, stepped up for nature by building 50 new tree sparrow nest boxes as part of a project to save some of the last populations of tree sparrows in South East England.Glen Routledge, Gardens Parties Supervisor from HMP Rochester said, “ We have taken the job on to give the offenders a purposeful activity and to enable them to put something back into society as a part of our Bio-Diversity programme within the establishment. Offenders also gained valuable experience in producing these boxes and many have shown a keen interest in the plight of the tree sparrows for which the boxes are intended. They are looking forward to the next project and working closely with the RSPB in the future.“
Craig Edwards, assistant warden at RSPB Dungeness said, “We are going to establish five winter feeding stations and erect 10 of the new boxes at each of the sites on the Marsh this winter, which will be monitored by a group of trained volunteers to assess how many birds are using them, and how many choose the boxes as a new home next spring.”
It’s not just about internships on our reserves!
Throughout the year you will find many different volunteer intern opportunities offered to enable you to gain experience, skills and behaviours that can assist you develop and create the potential for your dream job. Not only do you receive on the job training but mentoring and career coaching too - so why not make the most of it and get involved with us.
Two volunteer interns from our South Eastern Regional Office had this to say ....
Emily Clark, Community Fundraising Intern (Nov 2011 to April 2012) Emily has since gone on to secure a short term contract with our CF team, working on the Together for Trees collection campaign.
“Having graduated from university in June I found the same issue kept cropping up when applying for jobs - I needed some practical experience in a charity. When the opportunity arose to volunteer for the RSPB in November as a Community Fundraising Voluntary Intern I felt it was a great chance to be involved with a charity especially as it is the largest conservation charity in Europe. My main role within the community fundraising team is organising charity bucket collections.
I have learned so much in a short period of time from simply getting used to working in an office, organising collections, taking part in collections myself and managing other volunteers. I now have a clearer understanding of community fundraising and what it actually involves. As an intern I have been given help with career skills including CV training and career coaching.
I have really enjoyed my experience at the RSPB as everyone has been very supportive. I have tried many things out of my comfort zone which has shown me just how much I can do and increased my confidence! It has felt good to be doing something worthwhile whilst I’m looking for a paid job whilst knowing I’m gaining new skills at the same time which should help me gain future employment.”
Kate Standing. Media Intern (Oct 2011 – April 2012)
“Last summer I graduated from a good university with a good degree, but as I threw my mortar board into the air, like in a film, the world went into slow motion, the hazy glow of the day turned grey, the smile on my face faltered and reality struck. “Oh my God,” I thought, “I’ve got to find a job!”
Finding a job was no easy feat, said the News. The economy’s bad! No where’s hiring! Youth unemployment is rising! And there I was, a fresh-faced graduate, right in the middle of all of this. Not that I expected to get offered a job as soon as a stepped from the graduation ceremony stage, degree certificate clutched in hand, but where do you start in the job market when your C.V. is comprised of weekend jobs and waitressing? (Though being able to pour a really, really good pint is a life skill we should all aspire to.)
It turns out a good place to start is interning. Yes, you work for free, but you also gain experience in a work field that otherwise, you probably wouldn’t be able to get, and experience is king in the job hunt. I have just completed a six month placement with the RSPB South East Regional office as their Media and Communications intern and the experience that I have gained as been invaluable. I have been able to do a variety of different things, from helping to set up the region’s social media networks and seen them go from strength to strength, to writing press releases and liaising with local press contacts, as well as helping to promote campaigns and events.
I have learnt a lot of new skills in the last few months, and have made achievements that I think will really help me in the future. The prospect of job hunting doesn’t fill me with a cold dread anymore. I think I know what I’m doing, and I think I can do it. And, to top it all off, I can pour a pretty nice pint.”