LEILA, VOLUNTARY RANGER, CHILTERN RANGERS

Leila has been volunteering as a Chiltern Ranger for almost two years and would recommend volunteering to anyone.

What drew you to start volunteering and what attracted you to this role?  Although I had volunteered for a couple of organisations in Wycombe before this, I initially looked into volunteering for Chiltern Rangers as a way to get back into ‘normal’ life after suffering a pretty intense mental health breakdown. I was advised by doctors and therapists to find a voluntary role that involved being in the great outdoors and physical, Chiltern Rangers hit the mark perfectly and off I went.

What difference has volunteering made to you personally?  Oh – where to begin? It helped me turn my life around! I decided after volunteering for a year that I didn’t want to go back to the job I was doing before, or back to the business plan I had written to start a jewellery business and that I really wanted to work in conservation and protecting our environment and the eco systems within it. I decided to go for a full career switch and I haven’t looked back since.

Has your volunteering experience helped with your career?  Yes- exponentially. I got into a wildlife conservation traineeship with a local Wildlife Trust, drawing from my volunteering experience and started an Environmental Degree with the Open University. Three years later I’m now in a position to apply for paid, full-time Ranger jobs and am doing so as I type this.

What difference does your volunteering role make to others? I’d like to think a huge amount. Whether it’s by being part of a supportive volunteering community – providing a safe space for people to get out and do something or whether it’s the work to protect nature and wild spaces, I feel that what we do benefit others in many different ways.

What are the most challenging bits of volunteering? Sometimes it can be hard because society seems to think that unless you are doing a paid job, it doesn’t mean anything. And of course we all need money to survive but I wouldn’t change it for the world because money can only make me happy sometimes, conservation and nature make me happy ALL of the time.

Would you recommend volunteering and if so why?  I definitely would – because IT’S GOOD FOR YOUR SOUL. We know altruism is good for you, and what better way to give back while doing something good for yourself?! It’s a no-brainer, really.

For more information on volunteering at Chiltern Rangers, please see  www.chilternrangers.co.uk/volunteering.

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