If you’ve seen any of our previous blog posts or social media, you’ll know that here at the Steel Valley Project, we rely on a regular team of volunteers to carry out the work we do on practical conservation tasks and community events.

However, you might have wondered what’s in it for the volunteers themselves – so we asked one of them to share their thoughts.

Josette Falcidia has been volunteering with us since January 2018 and got involved because she had some spare time on her hands. Having had shoulder surgery, she wanted to build back strength in her shoulder, but was also interested in learning how to use a chainsaw safely.

From seeing leaflets and posters in the area, she already knew about our work and decided to get in touch.

On her first day with the team, Josette worked on repairing a rotten boardwalk to ensure that walkers on the path could pass easily and safely. Since then, she has spent time digging out invasive plants, clearing paths, and helping to create a habitat for the threatened willow tit bird. This involved tree felling work, where Josette learned new techniques which will come in handy for some tree maintenance work back home.

When asked to comment on the best parts of volunteering with us, Josette replied that she feels a sense of achievement every time she works with us and that “each week we’ve done something which made a difference”. She also realised that despite disliking the cold, keeping active means that she can work in all weather.

So far, the training Josette has received has been on the job training, from small things like how to stand on a spade safely to prevent injury, right through to cutting down a small tree with a bow saw.

Volunteering has given Josette confidence in using her arm again and practical experience in tool maintenance.

If anyone is thinking about volunteering with the Steel Valley Project themselves, Josette’s advice is that it’s “great socially, everyone is very friendly and it’s a good place to meet new people”. She also says that it gives you a “great sense of achievement on a physical and practical level” and that it’s “good to be surrounded by wildlife and nature – and get a dose of vitamin D”.

If your interested in volunteering with Steel Valley Project check out our Volunteering page for how to get involved.

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