Team Volunteering at Whiteleaf Hill

This team from APM, Princes Risborough, spent the day volunteering with the Chiltern Society at Whiteleaf Hill Nature Reserve.

 

The task: Easily recognisable in the area due to the white chalk cross, Whiteleaf Hill Nature Reserve is a chalk grassland which needs to be managed carefully to support local species. The volunteers were tasked with clearing some encroaching scrub and ash saplings.

The volunteers:  The team all work for Association for Project Management (APM) based in Princes Risborough. APM is the chartered body for the project profession incorporated by Royal Charter and is a registered charity. It is committed to developing and promoting the value of project management to deliver improved project outcomes for societal benefit.

Why did the team volunteer?  APM offers all its employee one paid day per year to spend on voluntary activity, either in teams or as individuals. It also has a small committee called ‘Giving Something Back’ which focuses on fundraising, volunteering and green initiatives. To help encourage employees to take up the day’s volunteering, one of the Committee members contacted Community Impact Bucks to find out about team volunteering opportunities and then sent a list around to everyone in the office.

Carol Rayner and the rest of her team decided that they would like to volunteer as a team rather than individually. She describes the team as all being ‘outdoorsy types’ and so they wanted to volunteer to do something local in the open air.  One of the organisations on the list was the Chiltern Society, so Carol got in touch with Fiona, the Chiltern Society Ranger and arranged two afternoon sessions to be spent at Whiteleaf Hill.

Has the team done this type of volunteering before? Not as a team, although some members have volunteered as individuals before – for example one team member regularly volunteers at Waddesdon Manor.

What was the biggest challenge? The only challenging aspect from Carol’s perspective was trying to find dates in the diary when everyone in the team would be available to take part.

How did the session go?  Fiona, the Chiltern Society Ranger met the team at the car park and went through a basic safety briefing as well as outlining what had to be done. She had brought with her all the necessary tools and was able to help and advise the team, working with them throughout the afternoon on both days. She provided tea and coffee for a mid-afternoon break. Carol said the team felt that their efforts were very much appreciated.

The team had plenty of questions for Fiona and it was great to have someone knowledgeable about the environment who could answer questions about the plants and insects there. The team came away with an improved knowledge of local spiders!

What did the team get out of volunteering? Because they all work together, this was almost like a team social event – following on from a pub lunch on both days. They were really lucky with the weather each time and the team get on really well together anyway. They all felt they got a lot out of it. It was quite hard physical work and it was obvious what a difference they had made at the end of each session.

What did APM get out of it?  For APM, this type of volunteering is a way of giving something back to the local community that it is part of.

Carol thinks that the sessions at Whiteleaf Hill did encourage others in the organisation to go for team volunteering activities.

Did the team enjoy it, and would they do it again?  Carol says “Yes – we all enjoyed it and it was important to us that it was local. APM has been in Princes Risborough since 2008 and is committed to at least a further 10 years here. I can’t speak for everyone in the team but I for one would be happy to go back and do more next year, if not at Whiteleaf then another Chiltern Society site.”

Thank you from the Ranger: Fiona, the Ranger, says “At the Chiltern Society we rely on volunteer help to manage all our reserves. We are incredibly grateful to the group from APM for their time spent helping us cut away vegetation that threatens to take over our chalk grassland if left unmanaged. They made a considerable impact clearing two areas on our site, which allows other volunteers access to carry on their amazing work. Thank you so very much and we hope to see you again soon!”

Do you want to volunteer with colleagues?  Register your interest with Community Impact Bucks here.

Do you have a volunteer opportunity suitable for groups of employees?   Register your interest with Community Impact Bucks here.

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Image courtesy of St Francis's Children Society