Archive | March 2012

National Spring Clean and Corporate Volunteering

Anyone who cares about the environment at all must be concerned about the amount of litter in Scotland (and other countries too no doubt!). How often do you go for a nice wander through the woods or the hills only to find drinks cans in the heather and trees decorated with bags of dog poo? In many areas of our towns and cities, the situation is much worse.

Not only does all this litter make our country a mess but it’s dangerous for wildlife. I posted recentlyabout volunteering with the Water of Leith Conservation Trust. Part of my role is to pick litter every week along a section of the river. One day I found the decomposed remains of a mouse or shrew inside a discarded beer bottle. There must be many animals that meet that type of fate. Rubbish that ends up in rivers makes its way to the sea. Sea turtles and other marine animals may eat plastic bags thinking that they’re jellyfish. Albatrosses and other birds feed plastic waste to their young because real food is so scarce. Parts of the oceans could these days be described as soups of plastic (the Midway project is a powerful exploration of these problems).

So Keep Scotland Beautiful are running the National Spring Clean through April and May. They hope that 200 000 people will join in this year and volunteer to clean up their local area. This offers an ideal team building and corporate responsibility opportunity for your company or organisation! Your staff or members could get to know each other while doing something really worthwhile and cleaning up a local area. So choose the area you want to clean up, choose your date and register here!

The Water of Leith Conservation Trust offers excellent opportunities for corporate volunteering. Your team can choose the tasks they want to do to help to clean up the river and maintain it as a healthy environment for wildlife.

Getting your company involved in conservation voluntary work offers excellent team building while doing something that is genuinely useful. It gets your staff involved in the local community and can encourage them to volunteer as individuals. It is good exercise and can improve staff  fitness and morale. It can help staff become re-aquainted with the natural world. It’s also good fun!

So why not give it a go?

If you have any experiences of corporate environmental volunteering, please feel free to share them in the comments section below!

Bold text in this post contains hyperlinks that take you to other websites where you can find out more.

Why I Volunteer for the Water of leith Conservation Trust

This morning I walked along the Water of Leith in Colinton and Craiglockart Dells. I picked a fair amount of litter, made notes on the species of birds (over 21 species!) and butterflies (three species) I saw and kept an eye out for any fallen trees or pollution incidents. I also really enjoyed the beautiful spring weather and the air full of birdsong and the magical sound of a woodpecker drumming.

I’ve done this every week for the past three years or so as a patrol volunteer for the Water of Leith Conservation Trust. Each stretch of the river has at least one patrol volunteer who tries to visit their patch every week. We also meet up regularly at the trust’s visitor centre to talk about the issues facing the river.

There are other opportunities to get involved as a volunteer with the trust. I’ve gone along to some of the wildflower planting days, which are hard work but sociable – and it’s lovely to be planting seeds and plants knowing that they will add a splash of colour and some good biodiversity to the area! You can also go along to the River Clean Ups. These can be very hard work and involve running down steep slopes and wading in the water, as well as picking up heavy items of rubbish! The feeling of achievement afterwards is brilliant though!  If you prefer your great outdoors to be a bit more at arms length you can sign up as an office volunteer either joining the rota to staff the reception desk or helping with other administrative tasks in the office.

The Trust treat volunteers very well, I’ve always felt that we’re given the right balance of responsibility and support, and are encouraged to get more involved if we want to! One of the extra things I’ve taken on since becoming a volunteer is to manage the trust’s Twitter stream! I’ve also been able to use my bird and flower identification skills to help the trust record the wildlife in the area.

I try to get out into green areas in and around Edinburgh every weekend but its great to have a local area that I visit regularly where I can see all the seasonal changes that are happening. The trust also offers a lot of opportunities for corporate volunteering, but I think I’ll do a separate post on that at a later date.

If you want to stay in touch with nature, conservation volunteering is definitely one of the best ways of doing it! If you’re involved in conservation volunteering, feel free to share your experiences in the comments section!

As ever, bold text contains hyperlinks that take you to other pages where you can find out more!

Walk the Talk! it’s Climate Week!

It’s very easy to talk green but to be effective and trusted you need to also act green! For example if your organisation talks a lot about the environment and climate change then you really need to be doing at least the obvious green things, like recycling and reducing the amount you travel.

This week is Climate Week in the UK. According to their website: Climate Week is Britain’s biggest climate change campaign, inspiring a new wave of action to create a sustainable future. The News pages of the site shares inspiring updates about climate change projects from chefs cooking climate friendly meals to NHS Forests planting 5 000 trees.

So what have you got planned for Climate Week?

And remember, it really should be Climate Week every week so what long term plans do you have for how you will reduce your personal or organisational carbon footprint?

As ever, bold text contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more.

Take a Step for Fair Trade!

It’s Fair Trade Fortnight! This morning I attended an inspiring and informative Fair Trade Brunch at Edinburgh’s Cafe Camino. You can read more about that over on my Crafty Green Poet blog here.

Fair Trade means a fair price for products that we buy from developing countries. It means that we can drink tea or coffee, eat chocolates or bananas knowing that the people who did all the hard work producing those items are getting a fair wage. The fairtrade premium attached to such produce is invested into the local community, often in environmental projects, underlining the links between social justice and the environment in sustainability.

The theme for Fair Trade Fortnight this year is Take A Step for Fairtrade, so, fuelled by a wonderful brunch of fair trade fruit juice, coffee, snack bars and smoked almonds, here are some suggestions for how you can take steps for Fair Trade in your work:

i) use Fair Trade products in your office

ii) use Fair Trade products when catering for your events

iii) hold Fair Trade Awareness Raising events (eg during Fair Trade Fortnight)

iv) choose Fair Trade products when buying corporate gifts, leaving gifts or Secret Santa gifts!

What other steps are you taking to introduce Fair Trade into your work?

As ever, bold text contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more.

How can Creative Writing help your Campaigning?

I used to be a charity fundraiser. I’ve also worked in charity communications. I know it can sometimes be difficult to know how to make this appeal more engaging and successful than the last one, this publicity brochure more compelling.

There are some great organisations out there which can train you on how to campaign, how to put together a fundraising appeal and how to work with the press. (I recommend NGO Media for their free taster training and overall professionalism and enthusiasm).

But sometimes you need to take a step back from the very concept of fundraising or campaigning and just write. Write creatively, from the heart. Write about what makes you passionate about the charity you work for. If you work for a conservation charity perhaps you are passionate about birds, or about landscape. Write about why. If you work for a climate change campaign, perhaps you are passionate about renewable energy or about passing a liveable world onto your children. Again, write about it! Then you can feed that passion and creativity back into your campaign or fundraising appeal.

Let’s just check. You are passionate about the work your charity does, aren’t you? If the passion is waning, perhaps it’s time to look for another job. Or to find a way of re-igniting the passion. For example, if you work for a conservation charity, get out into the countryside, specially if you haven’t done so for a while. Go birdwatching. Get excited about nature again. Then write about it!

If you never had the passion in the first place, you may need to ask yourself what you’re doing in the role at all! Some people will say that a talented campaigner can be successful even if they aren’t personally passionate about the issue (and I’m sure there are statistics somewhere that would bear that out). But I think passion is key. And taking time out to write creatively about your charity can unlock some of that passion. Which can making your communications more engaging and more effective. And make your job more fulfilling – after all, if you’re passionate about your work, then it becomes more enjoyable.

That’s why I offer creative writing workshops for charity campaigners and communications professionals. You can find out more on the Events page of this blog. Please feel free to contact me on Juliet.M.WilsonATgmailDOTcom if you want more information!

So what are your thoughts? Is passion key? Or do you think professional skills are enough? Share your ideas in the comments section below!

By the way, you can now follow me on Twitter.

Bold text in this post contains hyperlinks that will take you to other webpages where you can find out more.