Volunteer profile: John
People volunteer for all different reasons. We asked John why he volunteers for us…
How long have you been involved with Tyne Rivers Trust?
My first volunteer day with Tyne Rivers Trust was in June 2016.
Why did you decide to volunteer with Tyne Rivers Trust? How did you hear about it?
Following retirement and moving from Hampshire to Northumberland in October 2015 to live closer to my son and his family, I wanted to do some outdoor voluntary work to partly replace my paid work.
I was attending a festival in Hexham and walked pass the Tyne Rivers Trust stall which had information on their organisation and volunteering, which involves outdoor tasks. I had a talk to the Tyne Rivers Trust Volunteer Co-ordinator who was running the stall and decided that it would be an ideal volunteering opportunity. My father was a farmer, so I have experience of practical tasks and enjoy working outdoors.
What different volunteering activities have you taken part in with Tyne Rivers Trust?
As a Tyne Rivers Trust volunteer I have undertaken the following activities on the banks of the River Tyne and on the banks of other rivers and burns in its Catchment Area:
- Tree planting to improve biodiversity and slow down rainfall run off
- Removal of tree guards and stakes
- Pruning, planting and weaving of willow and installation of structures to prevent erosion
- Scrub clearance and burning to enhance biodiversity
- Litter clearance
- Clearing ponds of an invasive plant
- Electro-Fishing surveys to determine the numbers and condition of fish
- Removal of invasive plant species
- Maintenance and moving of Tyne Rivers Trust equipment
- Clearing and maintenance of footpaths
- Hedge laying
- Construction of a grass snake hibernaculum
- Work connected to the repair of a weir
- Dismantling and removal of an experimental livestock drinking water system, which had been installed to stop livestock damaging a river bank when drinking
Unlike some charities and organisations, which require their volunteers to commit to a set number of days or times, the Tyne Rivers Trust sends an email to the volunteers each month listing the volunteer day dates, times, locations and tasks. The volunteers are then free to choose which days they wish to attend and how many hours they wish to spend on the activity. I like this flexibility, because I am busy with other activities, and not always free to attend volunteer days. I undertake voluntary work about every 7 to 10 days.
The Tyne Rivers Trust provide transport in their truck from their offices at Stagshaw Bank near Corbridge to the sites where voluntary work is to be completed, and reimburse travel expenses when volunteers use their own vehicles.
All required tools are provided and the Tyne Rivers Trust Volunteer Co-ordinator always works with the volunteers on each task, giving instructions on what is to be done.
The Tyne Rivers Trust organize events for their volunteers as a thank you for their work. This has included a visit to the Kielder Salmon Hatchery and a Christmas social evening.
What is your favourite thing about volunteering?
I enjoy volunteering for the following reasons:
- Making worthwhile improvements to the Tyne River Catchment Area
- By undertaking voluntary work on tasks such as tree planting, I am saving the Tyne Rivers Trust the cost of employing people to do this work, thereby assisting its financial viability
- Enjoying new activities which I have not previously undertaken
- Meeting, working with and enjoying the company of new people who become friends
- Working in the beautiful Northumberland countryside
- Benefiting from physical exercise and fresh air
- Obtaining a sense of purpose and achievement
What would you say to people who are thinking about volunteering?
Retiring from full-time work involves a major change in life and can involve a sense of loss. Occasional voluntary work can, to some extent, replace full time work by providing purpose, achievement and the benefits listed above, while leaving free days to pursue other leisure activities and interests.
Volunteering is also a good activity for people temporarily out of work by demonstrating a work ethic to potential employers.
Volunteering with the Tyne Rivers Trust has been a positive experience. I encourage anyone with spare time to consider undertaking voluntary work for an organisation or charity, of which there are many to choose from.