Have you ever thought about becoming a volunteer but weren’t quite sure how to go about it? Take a few minutes to scan our pages, and hopefully we can answer some of your questions. If not, check out our FAQs below; (If we still haven’t answered your question, please feel free to get in touch)
I want to volunteer – what do I do next?
Great! Please read through the FAQ and then depending on which programme you are interested in either read the Nature’s Gym page or the River Volunteering page. On these pages you will find all the information you need to volunteer. We have also produced an information leaflet which you can print and/or download with all the information you need. There are also a couple of registration forms to fill out and that’s that! If you are not sure if it for you, please feel free to come and meet us at one of our sessions and we can answer any questions you may have. Just be sure to contact us to let us know.
What are the benefits of volunteering?
Above all, volunteering can be a lot of fun and is a great way of meeting people and finding new friends in your local area. Many volunteers also benefit from learning new skills and building up valuable work experience, to help them get paid work in the future. It also looks great on your C.V.!
You will also get to visit sites in Lewisham that you may never knew existed – there really are some gems out there! It will help you get fit and active whilst improving your local parks and nature reserves at the same time. There is a lot of work done in the Borough by volunteers that the Council and Glendale would not be able to do without the help of volunteers.
Who volunteers with Nature’s Gym and the Bankside sessions?
People from all walks of life volunteer with us. Students and young people volunteer to gain the work experience and skills they need to help them get a job in later life. It also looks great on your C.V.!
Similarly, other people volunteer after they have had a break from the job market and are looking to build up fresh experience. Many of our volunteers are retired people, looking to put their experience and some of their new found free time to good use!
Do I need any specific skills to volunteer with Nature’s Gym or the Bankside sessions?
No. We will train all volunteers in the correct and safe way to use the tools. You will however need to be reasonably fit. We can take referrals but please read the Nature’s Gym Page for how this process works.
If you would like to volunteer with the river bankside sessions, please note that the requirements are slightly different.
Is there any commitment I need to make with the number of sessions that I attend?
No. We understand that volunteering on a regular basis is a huge commitment. Obviously the more you come, the more benefit you will get from the sessions, but we do have a number of volunteers who can only make it at the weekend. We do ask though, that if you are not regular, if it has been a while since your last session that you contact us before attending a session just in case there have been any changes.
When can I volunteer?
The Nature’s Gyms session run on Thursdays between 11am-2pm and once a month on a Saturday between 11am-2pm. The River Management sessions run on Tuesdays between 11am-2pm.
Is your work weather dependant?
No! We work in all weather come rain or shine. In the 8 years that Nature’s Gym has been running we have only cancelled a couple of sessions. This has usually been due to there being snow on the ground – yes snow in London! Of course when the weather becomes a safety issue or if it is a raining torrents we will cancel the session. Volunteers tend to be a hardy bunch so seem to come out in all weathers!
The type of work we do is dependent on the seasons though, for example the tree work and bramble clearance is done during the Autumn and Winter so that we avoid bird nesting season. The work in the rivers is done during the Spring and Summer when it is a little warmer!
What do I need to bring?
We provide all tools, gloves and training. Tea/coffee will be available at the break, however, please feel free to bring a packed lunch for the break. We also advise you to bring extra water, especially on hot days. Make sure you have any medication you need, i.e. inhaler, antihistamine etc.
How old do I have to be to volunteer with Nature’s Gym?
Volunteers need to be 18 to volunteer with us, however, children under 16 are welcome as long as they are accompanied by an adult. There is no upper age limit!
Will I get my expenses paid?
Unfortunately not. We work on a very tight budget that does not allow us to pay travel and other out-of-pocket expenses.
Can I still claim benefits such as JSA while volunteering
Yes. Volunteering does not affect your benefits‚ although you may have to let the Job Centre staff know. You can volunteer for as many hours as you like while you’re claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance (JSA), as long as you are still actively seeking work and you aren’t legally obliged to volunteer. If any potential jobs that you’re suitable for come up, you will need to prioritise them over your voluntary work. This means you can’t turn down suitable paid work because of your volunteering commitments. In practical terms, this means you must be free to go to an interview if they give you 48 hours’ notice. We will be understanding and supportive if you need to go to an interview at the last minute.
I would like to arrange a volunteer session for myself and my colleagues, can you cater for large groups of volunteers?
Yes! We need plenty of notice though to get things organised and to make sure that there are enough staff available. We are limited to the number of volunteers we can take at any one time, but with plenty of notice we might be able to bring in extra help.
There are a number of sites in Lewisham that need plenty of work, so a big bunch of enthusiastic volunteers are welcome! Have a read through our Terms and Conditions as well for more information.
To discuss this further please contact us.
How do I contact the volunteering team?
Visit our ‘Meet the Team’ page where you will find out who you will be working with and their contact details. Please note that we are all out on site quite a lot, so if we do not reply to your enquiry straight away, don’t worry – we will get back to you!