While searching for firms at which to undertake my training contract, I was excited to discover Foot Anstey’s commitment to supporting local community initiatives through its CSR programme. On joining the firm in May 2021, I set out to find a volunteering opportunity that would allow me to use my CSR Hours to help safeguard the natural environment.
On the quest for opportunities
Life in lockdown saw many of us rekindle our love for nature as we spent what precious time we were allowed outside our homes in our local parks and green spaces. In May 2020, 36% of people responding to the People and Nature Survey by Natural England said they were spending more time outside during the pandemic than before – this rose to 46% in July 2020.
My experience was no different. I was fortunate enough to relocate to Cheltenham from London shortly before the first national lockdown where I enjoyed many mood-lifting strolls in my newly discovered local park – Pittville Park. I found an opportunity on my local council website to participate in the preservation of this beautiful little corner of the world as a ‘green space volunteer’ and leapt at the chance.
Green space volunteering – what’s it all about?
Sounds intergalactic, but it’s completely down-to-earth! As a green space volunteer, I use a couple of CSR Hours one morning each month to work alongside the community ranger, and the Friends of Pittville Park working group, in supporting the park’s upkeep. Each session begins with a chat about what we are setting out to achieve that day and then its gloves on and tools at the ready to begin the beautification process. Volunteer duties include seasonal bulb planting, clearing vegetation, cutting back shrubs, sowing urban meadow mixes to help with wilding, litter picking, and all-important weeding.
I use a couple of CSR Hours one morning each month to work alongside the community ranger, and the Friends of Pittville Park working group, in supporting the park’s upkeep.
The Rockery – a historic project bringing new joy to today’s community
During my first session, I helped weed the rockery on the north side of the upper lake in Pittville Park. Originally constructed in 1890 to resemble the Alps, it was remodelled in 1930 with stone from the local quarry on Leckhampton Hills. The years have not been kind to the rockery and the green space volunteers have been instrumental in restoring it to its former glory. It’s hoped new planting will bring interest and pleasure to the park’s many visitors.
Personal and community benefit
I am so pleased to have been able to use my CSR Hours to contribute to my local community. As a new resident, it’s been a great way to meet like-minded locals with whom I have enjoyed some very memorable chats (tales from my native Australia have been a particularly popular topic of conversation!). More importantly, I have been able to help maintain a place of clean, green respite to members of the public during what has been a very difficult and isolating time for many people.