Filling the world with hope – why volunteers mean so much to Earth Trust
By Jayne Manley
“If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope” – Barack Obama
Volunteers’ Week is a time to reflect on what volunteering means to us. Bill Clinton once said that ‘volunteering is an act of heroism on a grand scale’ that ‘matters profoundly’. This is true for Earth Trust as it is for many organisations and individuals across the country. Our volunteers donate hundreds of hours a week to helping us care for and share our green spaces and they do this through many different roles, engaging in a variety of ways. We are thankful to each and every one of them for the gift of their time.
The Covid-19 crisis has brought mixed emotions and for many has brought volunteering into sharper focus. People, now more than ever, are thinking about what matters to them and how they use their time. Be that supporting those in need in their communities, rebuilding confidence, addressing isolation or nurturing nature and protecting vital access to green spaces.
During this crisis most of our volunteers haven’t been able to continue helping Earth Trust and are missing it! Whether this is the social interaction, friendship, spending time with people who share a common interest or the opportunity to contribute to something that matters to them. We certainly miss seeing and spending time with them too. And of course, the environment is unable to benefit from the many hours they usually give us to help maintain our operations and care for our green spaces.
By bringing people together, volunteering is a visible expression of solidarity, positively impacting communities and individuals, increasing pride and belonging, and impacting positively on mental health and wellbeing.
We need to keep a clear sense of direction as we recover and build. During this week of celebration, I’m reminded that this sense of purpose and gifting time in support of the environmental cause was celebrated four years ago as we received the MBE of volunteering: the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. It’s really difficult for a volunteering community to secure this award and Earth Trust volunteers did it!
Collaboration and diversity are both vital to Earth Trust’s organisational resilience and delivery of our mission. Volunteering plays a key role in developing new relationships, creative thinking and new ways of working, helping us to build a more diverse community of stakeholders, audiences and supporters. As Earth Trust builds towards the new normal in a Covid-19 world, we need the energy, skills, capacity and new perspectives of volunteers more than ever. Their ideas, creativity and specialist knowledge increase our ability to generate natural and social capital, develop innovative climate friendly solutions and respond to newly‐emerging policy needs.
We are very much looking forward to welcoming back all our volunteers, both long standing and new, and them doing all the incredible things they do for us just as soon as we can.