25th February 2021
Volunteering is largely exempt from the current lockdowns in operation across the UK. Nonetheless, we decided to suspend the majority of our volunteering programmes early last month in order to avoid putting further strain on health systems which, in some places, were in danger of becoming overwhelmed.
Since then, conditions have improved considerably. Lockdown began to ease in Scotland this week with the reopening of schools, and England and Northern Ireland are planning to follow suit, to different extents, from 8th March.
With so many people and communities depending upon green spaces for free access to nature, exercise and recreation – and let’s not forget that climate and ecological emergency, of course – it is, therefore, our intention to resume our volunteering activities at the earliest opportunity from 1st March dependent on local circumstances and COVID-19 guidance.
The precise date upon which individual volunteering programmes resume will depend upon a number of factors, and the preparations of our local teams will be tailored to local circumstances. In all cases, activities will be risk assessed, follow our COVID-secure guidance, and have the consent of our landowning partners.
Find your local volunteering opportunities through our search facility and speak to your local office to find more information about the sessions.
5th January 2021
Following this week’s latest announcements, by UK Government and the devolved administrations, concerning lockdown, The Conservation Volunteers has temporarily suspended most in-person practical activities and volunteering programmes while we review our risk assessments and COVID-secure guidance to reflect the emergence of SARS-CoV-2.
All TCV employees who can work from home continue to do so and we continue to carry out essential green space safety and maintenance activities where we have the agreement of the landowner to do so.
We recognise that green spaces provide many people with valuable free access to nature, exercise, recreation and connecting safely with others. As soon as we can do so safely, and in keeping with government guidance, we will resume as many of our volunteering programmes as possible.
In the meantime, we will strive to maintain contact with those volunteers who are most vulnerable to the negative effects of social isolation and loneliness. Our operations teams are considering how best to do this in each location and we will continue to communicate with all of our volunteers during this latest period lockdown period.
3rd November 2020
As the UK continues to grapple with the challenges presented by COVID-19, and as local and national lockdowns tighten, our reliance on green spaces for free access to nature, exercise, recreation and connecting safely with others is greater than ever.
Volunteering is exempt from the new national restrictions which will come into in effect in England from 5th November and, across the UK, The Conservation Volunteers will continue to deliver volunteering programmes which care for these valuable green spaces where we have agreement to do so with our landowning partners.
At all times, we will have the necessary controls and precautions in place to ensure that our workplaces – be they offices, green spaces or transport to work – are COVID-secure. You can find out more about this here.
The decision to volunteer is, of course, a personal one. You should consider all available advice from national and local government concerning your local area before deciding to join our volunteering programmes.
People who are clinically extremely vulnerable are being advised not to volunteer outside their home under any circumstances, and should not therefore attend our volunteering programmes.
For everyone else who chooses to volunteer with The Conservation Volunteers, we will be ready to welcome you and look after you as you help with our important work of connecting people and green spaces to deliver lasting outcomes for both.
26th June 2020
I am very pleased to announce that The Conservation Volunteers is preparing for the resumption of selected outdoor group volunteering programmes in July.
Whilst many large-scale sectors and industries receive clear government guidance on when it is safe to resume business, there is no such specific steer for conservation and a community volunteering. It is up to us, therefore, to consider announcements and guidance and, in the spirit of these, determine for ourselves when it is safe to resume. At all times, we have monitored, and will continue to do so, instructions and guidance from UK governments and administrations on a regular basis to ensure that we are adhering to local instructions and guidance.
Taking all this instruction and guidance into account, including the latest announcements this week, we have concluded that, provided that we adhere to COVID Secure guidelines, our volunteers can now return to their voluntary work and benefit from the community, environment, health & wellbeing and learning & skills outcomes which connecting people and green spaces brings.
Throughout the crisis, we have kept in touch with our network of landowners, partners and funders and I am extremely grateful for the flexibility and support they have demonstrated. In all cases, we will ensure we have appropriate consent in place before resuming group volunteering programmes.
We are now making a number of preparations to enable our volunteering programmes to resume safely and you can find more information on these here.
This will, of course, all be dependent upon the COVID-19 situation not escalating. However, as things stand, I hope you will look forward, with me, to the resumption of many of our group volunteering programmes very soon.
I know that many of our volunteers will have questions and be keen to know when they can return to local projects. Our local teams will be in touch, through the usual channels, to provide you with more information in due course.
If you are new to TCV and considering volunteering for the first time – be it to tackle the climate emergency, learn new skills, derive health & wellbeing benefits or connect with your local community – we would love to hear from you. You can contact us here.
We look forward to seeing you again, or meeting you for the first time, soon.
20th April 2020
Connecting people is what The Conservation Volunteers does. Each year we bring together around 100,000 people – often amongst the most vulnerable in our society – to create and care for 1,500 green spaces at the heart of communities all over the UK. The impact of coronavirus on our work, like so many aspects of our day-to-day lives, has been significant and I would like to provide an overview of how we are responding to this unprecedented situation.
Since the outbreak began, our utmost priority has been the safety of the people our activities affect, whether they are employees, volunteers, community groups, funders, partners or the public at large.
As the situation has escalated over recent weeks we have, in line with government guidance, suspended our volunteering programmes. We know that, for many of our volunteers, our programmes provide valuable social connections and we are doing our best to stay in touch with those who are most isolated.
We have instructed the majority of our employees to work from home. Safe, good-quality green spaces remain essential to any healthy and happy community however – particularly for those with no access to a garden of their own. Some of our employees, therefore, continue to carry out essential work, such as inspections and site repairs, to keep the green spaces upon which local communities depend safe. Where there is a local need, and where it is appropriate and safe for us to do so, we are also helping with the collection and distribution of food to local communities. I’m incredibly proud of the staff and volunteers who have stepped up across our organisation and found new and inventive ways to support communities in this time of need.
A significant proportion of TCV employees have kindly agreed to go on temporary furlough and we’re extremely grateful to them for making this difficult decision. They remain an important part of the TCV team and we’ll be staying in touch regularly to provide support and keep them up to date until we can welcome them back to work.
Like most organisations, we are adapting to a rapidly changing world. While our ability to physically support people and communities to care for green spaces might be limited at the moment, we continue to connect by other means. Our website now hosts ideas and advice on staying connected with each other and with nature, whilst staying home and keeping safe. Our TCV Community Network website continues to connect, and provide information and resources to, our network of independent community groups.
Our work is only made possible by the incredible support we receive from our funders and partners, and we’re immensely grateful for the flexibility and understanding they’ve demonstrated in response to these incredibly challenging circumstances. We are working closely with everyone who supports us, to continue our work safely where we can and, in some cases, repurposing funding to provide support to communities, protect our infrastructure and increase our ability to emerge successfully from the crisis.
We are also turning our attention to what the world might look like beyond the current restrictions on movement. Although none of us know when this will be, we do know that many people will be feeling extremely isolated and inactive, and in need of a health and wellbeing boost, while many green spaces will have suffered from weeks or months of only essential management. Our work, to connect people and green spaces to deliver lasting outcomes for both, will be more important than ever. We’re thinking now about the role we will need to play, in partnership with others, to ensure we deliver the greatest impact for people and green spaces in the future.
To everyone connected with our work, and to everyone who is not, I hope you are keeping safe. And to all of those who are missing our volunteer programmes right now, I hope that we are able to resume them safely soon and I look forward to welcoming you back.