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Volunteers wanted

Hundreds of ‘green volunteering’ activities are being organized in May to combat the stress and strains of modern living. In an attempt to improve the nation’s health and happiness you can volunteer outdoors at ‘taster sessions’ of the Green Gym. The sessions are listed at the end of this story.

May is Environment Month in the Year of the Volunteer. Events taking place this month include a day of mass volunteering across the Midlands and the South West, the crowning of the 500th volunteer pond warden and a big push (and pull) to save the bluebell, Britain’s favourite wildflower, from invasive weeds in Kew Gardens.

Two million people give time each year as environmental volunteers, and research has shown that people who volunteer to help improve the environment are more likely to lose weight and become less stressed. CSV Make a Difference Day research found that 42% of volunteers in environment and conservation projects say volunteering has helped them to lose weight and 61% say volunteering helps them combat stress.

Tom Flood CBE, Chief Executive of BTCV says: “We know that volunteering improves our quality of life, and being in contact with nature relieves stress and anxiety, so everyone taking part in Environment Month will have a chance to be happy and fulfilled.”

Environment Month kicks-off with BTCV Green Gym ‘taster sessions’:

Sunday 1 May – Hatfield Moor, Humberhead Peatlands English Nature Reserve, near Doncaster. Around 150 people are expected to help make these unique Peatlands safer by pulling up ragwort, a plant poisonous to horses and cattle, and by improving access to the reserve by clearing footpaths of overhanging scrub. Call Siobhan Hamilton (BTCV) on 01977 625 421 to book your place.

Saturday 7 May – RSPB Sandwell Valley Reserve, West Bromwich, West Midlands. This RSPB Reserve is a green oasis in the Black Country. Volunteers will help to improve facilities for visitors and have an opportunity to enjoy this fantastic haven for birds and wildlife right in the centre of Birmingham. A healthy packed lunch will be supplied by Sandwell Valley cafe with produce from the Park Farm. The afternoon activities will include a guided walk from 1pm – 4pm through the Reserve to spot visiting and resident mammals. Meet at 9.00am at the Sandwell Valley Visitor Centre. Call James Fellows on 07740 899725 to book a place.

Thursday 12 May – Aston Rowant, Oxfordshire. Volunteers will join Sonning Common, Aylesbury and Abingdon Green Gyms to make a sheep-pen for a flock of speckled-faced Beulah sheep. These help to manage the delicate environment in one of the best examples of prime chalk grassland in the country, containing many rare plants such as the Chiltern Gentian and 11 different species of orchid. Meet at the English Nature Aston Rowant Reserve office off the A40 between Stokenchurch and Postcombe between 9.30 and 10.00am. Bring a packed lunch, and binoculars to see the Red Kites.

Monday 25 May – Lathkill Dale, in English Nature’s Derbyshire Dales Reserve. Volunteers from nearby towns and cities will get first-hand experience of dry stone walling in this magnificent White Peak landscape which is a Special Area of Conservation for the rare grassland and wild flowers. Packed lunch will be provided. Call Jane Smith (BTCV) on 07764 655642 to book your place.

For a full list of the volunteering opportunities can available during Environment Month visit: www.yearofthevolunteer.org

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