What are the session days and times?
Monday and Tuesdays from 10am to 1pm on dates set out on GPEP’s volunteering page.
Who can take part?
Currently, you can take part if:
- you are 18 years old or over but under 70 years old
- you are not clinically vulnerable
- you are reasonably fit and feeling well
- you have not tested positive to a Covid-19 test in the last 14 days
- you are not displaying any symptoms typically associated with COVID-19 – see https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/symptoms/
Be aware that we work outside in all weathers and on rough ground and in water.
We have separate monthly sessions for over 70 year olds who are reasonably fit, not otherwise clinically vulnerable and have not tested positive for a COVID-19 test in the last 14 days. Please email email@example.com for more dates and details.
Do I have to book?
Yes. We will advertise all our workdays on the TCV website about one month ahead. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to say which session or sessions you would like to attend. Bookings will be on a first come, first served basis but we will also try and give as many people a chance as possible so please do not be disappointed if you do not have all your chosen dates confirmed. We currently only book 5 volunteers for each session to a maximum of 6 people in the group, including staff. Please only book if you can definitely attend as we have so few spaces and want to give everyone a chance.
What happens next?
We will email you back with confirmation of your session together with a TCV Volunteer Welfare Form and a Returning Volunteer Agreement (to confirm willingness to abide by our additional health and safety measures). You can fill this in and email it back to us before the workday or bring it with you on the day. We will also have spare forms at the Ecology Park just in case.
How do I get in touch if I have a query before my visit?
Please email email@example.com or ring 0208 293 1904 but make sure it’s in plenty of time for your visit and not the day before if possible. We have limited staff on site on days when the site is not open to the public.
What if I have to cancel?
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or ring 0208 293 1904 and leave a message as soon as you can so we can offer the space to somebody else.
What will I be doing on the day and do I need any previous experience?
Our habitat management tasks include meadow cutting, reed and marsh cutting, bramble clearing, digging over shingle beach areas, shrub pruning and coppicing or cutting willow stems. You don’t need any previous experience – you will be working as part of a small team under the guidance of a park warden. It’s a great chance to get some hands-on experience of traditional habitat management techniques using only hand tools. We work until about 11.15 am and have a tea break, then carry on until 1pm. We take breaks outside near our work site.
What do I wear and do I have to bring anything?
Wear old clothes and strong footwear (boots or trainers that you don’t mind getting dirty). Dress for the weather and bring a waterproof outer layer if rain is forecast and wear long sleeves and long trousers to protect against weather and stinging or thorny plants. We provide work gloves – we will give you your own pair to keep and bring with you each time you volunteer. We will also provide wellie boots and waders if needed though you are welcome to bring your own wellie boots. Boots and waders will be cleaned, sanitised and aired after use.
Unfortunately, we cannot provide our usual tea, coffee and biscuits (due to restrictions on sharing and touching items), so please bring your own water bottle, flask of tea or coffee and any snacks.
What happens when I arrive?
On arrival, a member of TCV staff will be on hand in the gatehouse to check you in and make sure you have filled in a Volunteer Welfare Form and a Returning Volunteer Agreement. After sanitising your hands, you will go out into the park to meet the member of staff leading the task. They will do a health and safety talk and chat about the task, then issue you with your tools for the day in your own wheelbarrow. You can store any coats, drinks and refreshments in your barrow.
How will TCV maintain safety and social distancing?
TCV have carried out extensive risk assessments, site reviews and staff training to maintain high standards of safety for staff and volunteers. We have an enhanced cleaning regime and wipe high touch surfaces frequently. We have provided hand sanitiser for when you enter the park and just before the toilet block. You can also wash your hands in the sinks in the toilet block. All tasks are planned with social distancing in mind. Volunteers and staff will be spaced apart and each will have their own wheelbarrow of tools – these will be cleaned and sanitised after each session. You will be given your own work gloves to keep and bring with you each time you volunteer.
Will I need to wear a face mask or other PPE?
You can wear face masks if you wish when you enter the gatehouse but you don’t have to wear a mask while working outdoors with the team. If the weather allows, the gatehouse where you enter will be well-aired with doors open whenever possible. The toilet block will also have the window and main entrance doors open at all times. You may pass by other volunteers on the boardwalks on site at times.
Do you have toilets?
Yes, we have toilet facilities, with a one-in/one out system, which are regularly wiped and cleaned. Only one toilet cubicle will be available to use on each side.
Is there anywhere to lock my bicycle?
Yes, there are bicycle racks close to the park outside of the gatehouse. You won’t be able to lock bikes to the park fences as we need to maintain access as wide as possible.
What if it rains?
We will go ahead with a workday in most weathers but there are limited places to shelter and the gatehouse is access only, so make sure you have waterproof clothing if you attend. If the forecast is terrible and we have to cancel, we will email booked volunteers. Somebody will always be on site on the day anyway.
Can I smoke?
The park is a no smoking site, but you can smoke by the river just off the Thames Path before or after your session.