Celebrating volunteering 2022

The first week of June is Volunteers’ Week and is an apt time to celebrate and thank our volunteers, and to plan the future of volunteering at Hazel Hill Trust.

Celebrating success

We have run two volunteer days each month since September 2021. This gives volunteers more opportunities to attend and increases what we can achieve. Many volunteers are happy to help with tasks around the buildings. Others are keen to keep their focus on wildlife and the wood, so we plan woodland tasks on every volunteer day. We often have a range of options of tasks to choose from each day.

We officially have four new trustees as of March 2022, who join 4 existing trustees. We have transitioned to a new way of collaborative and supportive working, including via “working groups” of staff and trustees. Staff and trustees are working more closely than before, which is a really positive change for the charity.

Firewood restocking continues to be a regular task, with many sub-tasks involved in this – including splitting wood with an axe, moving logs to the log store and finally moving them into each building, ready for use.

Perlins Community Project have been coming to volunteer days again since October 2021, after an 18 month break due to covid and transport. They started coming in March 2019. I think all agree it is great to have them back!

We are due to run a second scythe training day for volunteers on 23rd May, when we will also buy 2 more scythes. We need more skilled scythers and more scythes to keep up with the path, ride and glade maintenance tasks.

The Garden BirdWatch survey is in its 2nd year. This is a self-led activity, recording birds around the Oak House lawn area, including the feeders. Mark and Ella are the founding surveyors, and are joined this year by Helen. They find it relaxing and enjoyable. The data collected are submitted to the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) who can then monitor changes in bird populations across the UK. They have recorded 23 species – see list below.

The Nesting Neighbours survey is in its third year. This is another self-led activity, recording the birds that are nesting in the boxes created and donated by local Scouts in 2018. East Grimstead resident Rosie and family have taken this on this year and are enjoying it. The data collected are submitted to the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) who can then monitor changes in bird populations across the UK.

Thanking volunteers

I am preparing personalised thank you cards for all regular volunteers – people who have volunteered 4 or more days in the last year. We thank volunteers in person at every volunteer day – with words, hot drinks and cake!

We are planning a walk and picnic in Bentley Wood on Saturday 11th June. All volunteers and staff are welcome to join. I will make a cake. This will be an opportunity to socialise and celebrate, and also to explore another local woodland together. 

I will also thank volunteers by email and social media.

The future

Volunteer feedback

I sent out a volunteer survey via Google Forms back in March/April, but have had no responses. I plan to print and ask people to complete them at volunteer days over June and July. I will also send it out by email again. 

When we had grant funding for running volunteer days, we collected feedback at every volunteer day. This was too often for most volunteers. We’ve now gone to the other extreme, with no formal feedback collected since 2019. The plan from now on is to complete an annual survey.

We do, however, collect and respond to informal feedback.

Volunteer recruitment

We have lost some of our regular volunteers over the last couple of years, mainly due to them relocating. Therefore, we are working on volunteer recruitment. We are attending events over the year and promoting volunteering at Hazel Hill Wood through these. So far:

Volunteer development

We will continue to identify where individual volunteers might want to take on more responsibility, including completing self-led tasks. This could include the woodland health and safety survey, butterfly survey, other wildlife surveys, scything, woodwork projects.

Written by Charley Miller, Conservation and Education Coordinator.

Birds of Hazel Hill Wood Garden BirdWatch survey