My 6 weeks as a DWT volunteer

Photo credit, Danny Green

'I was lucky enough to have been given the opportunity to take a 6-week sabbatical from my workplace in order to volunteer on a project I felt passionately about. Luckily for me the Devon Wildlife Trust gave me the chance to help them with the CAN project (Connecting Actively to Nature) for the whole 6 weeks.'

I walked over 10’000 steps every day for 6 weeks without even noticing!!

I was lucky enough to have been given the opportunity to take a 6-week sabbatical from my workplace in order to volunteer on a project I felt passionately about. Luckily for me the Devon Wildlife Trust gave me the chance to help them with the CAN project (Connecting Actively to Nature) for the whole 6 weeks.

This project focused on getting people aged 55 and over out and active in nature. The 2 projects that DWT were offering to participants were nature walks every Wednesday and Tai Chi in the park every Thursday.

Volunteer first day

This photo was taken on my first day just before we were about to head off on a nature walk. I was asked to take snaps throughout the walk and talk to participants in order to understand their reasoning for getting involved in the project. Booking wasn’t essential so we didn’t know who would come each week but with word starting to get round, and promotion continuing, we had new and regular participants each week (the sunshine also helped).

As a champion chatterbox, I relished the chance to meet new people to discuss what first attracted them to the project. I met some wonderful people with amazing stories and who all had a huge amount of knowledge on the local area and the wildlife within it. I have learnt so much from the people I have met on these projects and feel I have made a real difference in their confidence and activity levels by talking/listening and encouraging.

Tai Chi was another CAN project on offer to participants who wanted to turn up and give it a go every Thursday lunchtime at Mincinglake valley Park in Exeter. We had  a successful turn out each week in all weather, and I even managed to look like I knew what was doing! Tai Chi really lends itself to being taught outside and allows your body and mind to connect with the environment and wildlife around you. We identified bird songs during our movement sequence and tried to change location weekly within the park in order to experience the different atmosphere/environment.

ITV local news came along to film one of our Tai Chi sessions which was a wonderful way to promote the project and encourage others to engage in this kind of activity. Participants spoke to ITV about the benefits they had experienced from the sessions and what had interested them in coming along to the events.

During my short time with DWT I have been able to see first-hand the health benefits of being out in nature and have spoken to many participants who have said how the projects have allowed them to connect with others whilst improving their physical and mental wellbeing.

nature walk

I have loved my time at DWT and would encourage any budding volunteers to put their names forward to work with this amazing trust as their work is so crucial in keeping our wildlife happy and thriving in Devon.

Volunteer with DWT