Volunteer Officers (VOs) help to keep many of TCV’s conservation groups up and running, but what do they get out of it themselves? Andy Johnston is a VO with the Community Rewilding Project based in the Glasgow office. Here, Andy answers a few questions about his volunteering with us.
When did you start volunteering for TCV, and when did you become a VO?
My first volunteer session was on 19 June this year, and as for becoming a VO, that happened in early August.
What drew you to TCV in preference to other volunteering opportunities?
The emphasis on conservation. I’m interested in flora & fauna, the environment, as well as Glasgow’s beautiful greenspaces, so volunteering outdoors was an easy decision. Plus, all the work we do with the community sealed the deal.
What have you found to be the most challenging/difficult part of being VO?
Nothing has been particularly difficult so far, but knowing/remembering what to load on the van has tripped me up a couple of times e.g. forgetting to pack the biscuits! I haven’t done any outdoor work in the dead of the Scottish winter yet, so you may want to ask me that again in a few months.
Has this become easier or stayed the same?
It’s become much easier because I made a checklist of things to pack. And once you forget to bring biscuits, you don’t make that mistake again!
Have you learnt any new skills since being with TCV?
Aside from the things I’ve been explicitly trained in e.g. Brushcutting, Safeguarding, and Risk Assessment, I’ve picked up quite a bit on plant identification, ecology, conservation, and tool use to name but a few. I also feel my interactions with those with mental health issues and learning difficulties have improved.
Would you recommend to others to consider becoming a VO with TCV?
Absolutely. If you have an interest in people or conservation, and you don’t mind getting your hands (and knees) dirty, then you’ll find it very rewarding. Also, TVC are incredibly helpful with training and progression up the skill ladder.
How do you see the Community Rewilding Project as helping the people and places involved?
I think it’s helping a great deal. With the regular volunteers, we show them what changes need to be made to maintain and improve the greenspaces, whilst actively doing so. But also, our very presence highlights to non-volunteers that these places need actual people to care and preserve them. Even if it’s just because they’ve seen us out and about as they walk their dogs, or see a flyer at the housing association office, they’re being made aware that rewilding is an issue that needs to be addressed, and that takes actual people. Hopefully that will sow the seeds of thought.
Do you hope volunteering with TCV will lead to anything in particular for yourself?
The training will help me apply for further work in conservation organisations, and I’m hoping that there may be further opportunities with TCV itself.