Long time RSPB volunteer Matthew Scott recently won the Millenium Volunteer Ultimate Award. The MV helps young (14-30) people in Northern Ireland to combine volunteering with their academic and personal lives. Matthew has volunteered in a wide variety of places and roles for the RSPB since 2011 and last year received his long overdue 200 Hour Award for Millenium Volunteers and thoroughly deserves this latest award.
At just 20 years of age, Matthew has somehow combined his dedication to volunteering and nature conservation with his studies at Queens University, Belfast. Here we see him collecting his latest award from Maire Young, Chairperson of the Youth Council NI & Jane Gribbin, Volunteer Now Youth Manager and a few words from the young man himself!
'I never expected to have my volunteering work with the RSPB recognised through receiving the MV Ultimate Award. It was a big surprise, but obviously very much appreciated. The awards night was very enjoyable, with some inspirational speeches from a range of individuals, and enjoyable performances from talented local musicians. My RSPB volunteering to date has proved invaluable as I leave university and begin to embark on my career path in the conservation sector. I have been able to draw on a wealth of incredible experiences in both applications and interviews; experiences that wouldn't have been realised without the help and support of fellow staff and volunteers. So thank you.'
Here's to many more hours of volunteering and conservation work Matthew, and hopefully more awards too! Congratulations from everyone at RSPB Volunteering HQ
Way back at the end of September last year, inspired by The RSPB’s ‘Giving Nature a Home’ campaign, Macclesfield RSPB Wildlife Explorers decided to set themselves a target to publicise the need for everyone to provide a little bit of space for nature and to help local wildlife directly. An initial suggestion of aiming to provide 500 new homes for nature, to be created in and around Macclesfield in just one year, was soon revised to an ambitious 1,000 new homes for wildlife when we realised just how enthusiastically our plans had been received.
Members enlisted help across different age groups –toddler siblings, older brothers and sisters, parents and grandparents were all encouraged to take action. Throughout the season of meetings, and in all weathers, Wildlife Explorers have been planting trees, sowing wildflower patches, constructing nestboxes, creating bug homes and making wildflower seed bombs - all with the aim of creating more space for nature and habitats for wildlife in our gardens, school grounds and public spaces.
Children and families connected to the group have also been spreading the word, explaining just how easy and it is to ‘Give Nature a Home’. Some members have encouraged their schools to help with fundraising whilst others have created wildlife havens in their own gardens and taken part in public events to demonstrate the most effective ways to help wildlife in our own backyards. Youngsters have manned stalls at markets and walked in carnival parades to help get our message across to the wider public.
Our efforts have seen a variety of projects come to fruition. Last autumn a large group of volunteers planted trees to restore a dilapidated hedgerow and create a wildlife corridor on a local bridle path. Our teenage Phoenix members raised money with a cake sale to purchase the raw materials to make a selection of nestboxes that were put up in the Goyt Valley as part of a project with The Peak National Park. These nestboxes are now providing vital nesting sites for migrant visitors like Pied Flycatchers. In the spring Explorers joined Kew Gardens’national Grow Wild Project by planting wildflower seeds at locations in Macclesfield Town Centre. Leaders have also visited local schools and uniformed groups to talk to children about ‘Giving Nature a Home’, as well as helping them create Hibernation Hotels and Bug Bungalows.
At the time of writing the grand total of new wildlife homes created since September 2013 stands at nearly 700. Despite all the hard work 1,000 homes is still a huge number to reach and the team are hoping that a final flourish at their WOW event in September will secure a last surge in the number of wildlife homes to enable them to achieve their target. WOW - The Wildlife and Outdoor World Extravaganza event is held at Pikelow Farm in Marton, Cheshire. It is a fabulous venue, already effectively managed with wildlife in mind and a centre for wildlife photography. (Farmers David and Ann Taylor are recipients of a special Gold RSPB Wildlife Action Award). On the day there will be representatives of many wildlife and conservation organisations providing lots of advice on ‘Giving Nature a Home’ and wildlife gardening in general. Alongside goods for sale such as optical equipment, books, art work, photographs and homemade produce there’ll be competitions and lots of activities to try. Exhibits will include farm animals and practical demonstrations of country crafts and there’ll be a selection of refreshments, with volunteers providing teas and snacks throughout the day.
This year at WOW Wildlife Explorers will be creating a new wildlife garden adjacent to the wildlife pond and hibernation hotel that they created at previous events. Visitors will be able to get hands-on to help create lots of different elements within the garden and also to make a variety of wildlife homes to take home – they’ll be making everything from nestboxes to bug bungalows and seed bombs, bat boxes to portable ponds as well as helping to build a hibernaculum.
We hope you are inspired to support ‘Giving Nature a Home’ – the smallest project in your garden or even a window box is guaranteed to be great fun and to be great for nature where you live!
*The WOW event attracted nearly 1000 visitors and raised over £5'500 which is amazing! Thanks to all that attended and made the day such a success and a special mention must go to the RSPBs local group in Macclesfield and the Macclesfield RSPB Wildlife Explorers for such a fantastic job in organising and running the event.
Stepping up for Nature
Having completed a degree in Environmental Science over the summer, I was keen to get involved with an organisation that I share similar values with.
From a very young age I have always loved getting out into the countryside. One of my much-loved jaunts over recent years has been at RSPB Strumpshaw Fen. It’s amazing how, just outside the city, I have been able to see such a wide variety of wildlife. Living in Norfolk, I have been lucky with miles of coastline, woodlands, reserves and wild spaces to venture out into.
When I saw a volunteering opportunity advertised in August to work within the Communications team in Norwich, I leapt at the chance! As anyone knows, it is difficult to find work in the environment in the current economic climate, and this is why volunteering for the RSPB is so worthwhile - as I am convinced the experience I gain will prove invaluable in the future.
It has struck me how warm and welcoming everyone is within the organisation. My role has been really varied, from creating content for social media to collating and evaluating visitor data at reserves and provides me with a real insight into the workings of a conservation charity. I didn’t realise how many different strands to the RSPB there are, and how each one is so fundamental to meeting the Charity’s aims and overall success.
The RSPB certainly makes you feel, as a volunteer, extremely valued. I have had 1:1 meetings with staff working in different areas of the RSPB, which is an informative and helpful way to discover what goes on behind the scenes.
I feel proud to be a volunteer for the RSPB and love knowing that I am making a positive contribution to conserving nature.