I had a bit of a lightbulb moment during a recent meeting of the Lewisham Biodiversity Partnership after someone said that they couldn’t get any volunteers to help during an orchard pruning and clearing day, writes Lawrence Beale Collins of the Healthy Rivers Project
This struck me as odd. The Healthy Rivers Project has been running volunteering events during the pandemic using a booking system, and we have been over-subscribed. People told me that they wanted to get out, help out and get some
It was at this moment that I decided to create a hub for both potential volunteers and those running nature-based events throughout the borough of Lewisham. This hub is a group on Facebook called Nature Volunteering in Lewisham (NViL) and it’s open to everyone.
Anyone running a project in the borough of Lewisham, near its borders or along the Ravensbourne river catchment, can share a scheduled volunteering day with the group so that any potential volunteers out there can see what’s going on and decide if they’d like to join in.
So, what sort of people volunteer? Over the last few years the demographic amongst participants has broadened. Lots of younger people are volunteering these days, which is great to see.
We’ve also seen a good number of those living in some of the new developments, such as central Lewisham and Catford Green, because they see the river every day and want to keep it looking good. They also help out in Ladywell Fields too.
What is also key here is that all the projects that are looking for volunteers are mostly run by volunteers themselves – community orchards, local park friends’ groups, local cemeteries (often a haven for wildlife) are all run by dedicated local teams.
You can also learn a lot. Personally, I’ve learnt so much talking to people along the riverbank, mainly about bird behaviour and identification.
Many of these park groups and others in the borough and beyond, run bird walks, tree walks, local history walks etc and these will all be going up on the NViL facebook page too in 2022, when it warms up a bit!
Anyone thinking about doing a bit of volunteering can also post to the group and ask if there is
anything happening that they can help out with.
There are other great groups that coordinate general volunteering, away from a nature setting, like Lewisham Local and Voluntary Action Lewisham. But if it’s a nature cure you’re looking for then come over to Nature Volunteering in Lewisham and enjoy the best green spaces in London.