Volunteering is proven to make you feel better. It’s fun, and doing something worthwhile gives a great sense of fulfilment. Having a go at something new or learning a new skill while giving back to your community is a fantastic achievement. Lending a hand with an environmental initiative like Coast Care brings the added benefits of getting you outdoors and keeping you active, and is the perfect excuse to be out in the beautiful Northumbrian countryside. What we hear over and over from our volunteers though, especially this year, is that the most important benefit of volunteering with Coast Care is the chance to socialise with like-minded people. With fewer sessions and limited group sizes, that’s been our biggest loss during this awful pandemic. We miss our volunteers!
We used to hold monthly coffee mornings so those thinking about volunteering could meet the team and learn more about Coast Care, and the existing volunteer team could have a chat over coffee. Obviously this hasn’t been possible since March but we’ve now gone online! Unfortunately that means its BYOB (Bring Your Own Biscuits) but hopefully it can lessen the impact of the restrictions we’re all living under at the moment. Every other Friday we meet online to welcome a guest speaker, who talks to us for about 45 minutes about their particular aspect of natural history or conservation. After this there’s always time to have a chat, catch-up on what’s going on at Coast Care and hear what our volunteers have been up to. It’s not the same as being outside working together on a task, we’re making the most of it! So far we’ve heard from:
- Iain Robson (Access Officer at the Northumberland Coast AONB) about the future of Coast Care
- Em Witcutt (Coast Care Project Assistant) and David Kinchin-Smith (RSPB Assistant Warden) about their time on Gough Island, an important island for seabirds in the South Atlantic which is under threat from introduced House Mice
- Jessica Turner (Bamburgh Bones Project Officer) who told us fascinating stories about the huge diversity of people who used to call Bamburgh home
- Tom Cadwallender (local ecologist and Coast Care volunteer) who passed on a little of his knowledge of the birds that spend the winter along the Northumbrian coastline)
We’ve all now been living under some form of restrictions for nine months. While these are necessary to tackle coronavirus, it’s important to understand the impact that they’re having on everyone’s mental health and wellbeing. It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed and isolated, and loneliness has been a huge problem, particularly in rural areas like ours. Hopefully with our new virtual coffee mornings we can do our bit to help.
For any registered volunteers who were unable to attend our coffee mornings, the talks are available to watch at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPBAgA0YZTfSug2S5urkjCQ.