Outdoor & practical volunteering

Volunteer

Outdoor & practical volunteering

© Jon Hawkins

Received Queen's Award for Voluntary Service
Volunteers dedicated 4,370 days during 2019
Queen's Award for Voluntary Service

Get hands on for wildlife

Join one of our practical volunteer groups and help care for the wild places you love!

Help us carry out practical conservation tasks on the reserves under our care. It's also a great way to keep fit, meet new people and learn new skills.

Trust volunteering restarts from 12th April for existing volunteers. However, it will take us a little while longer to get back on our feet before we start taking on new volunteers. Please bear with us while we work our way through the very large backlog of people who previously expressed their interest.

 

Thank you for your generous support!

 

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact Community Engagement, you can email us at volunteers@surreywt.org.uk and will do our very best to respond to you as quickly as possible.

Looking for corporate volunteer opportunities?

volunteers in Surrey

© Jon Hawkins

What activities do we carry out?

Our work is often seasonal, with lots of scrub clearance taking place on our heathland and grassland reserves and coppicing in our woodlands during autumn/winter. While the spring/summer months involve removing invasive plant species, creating areas of bare ground for invertebrates, or setting up grazing compartments.

About practical volunteering days

Our volunteer days usually run from 10am until late afternoon, with regular rest breaks and time for lunch. We’ll also keep you topped up with refreshments and biscuits! All sessions are led by a member of staff or experienced volunteer, so you don’t need to be an expert to get involved.

Activities are carried out with hand tools and the Trust provides all equipment and PPE required. All you'll need are old clothes that are appropriate for the weather, sturdy boots and a packed lunch.

Under 18?
If you are under the age of 16 you will need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian (who will also need to register as a volunteer).

16/17 year olds can volunteer unaccompanied, but must complete a parental/guardian consent form before they start volunteering.

Register to volunteer

Overview of volunteering locations

We have volunteering opportunities on our reserves on almost every day of the week at various locations in the county. Weekend volunteering takes place from September to February on Sundays.

View full volunteer programme

Mondays

Elstead group of Commons (Elstead) - Volunteers meet on Mondays.

Priest Hill (Ewell)  - Volunteers meet first Monday of each month.

Tuesdays

On Tuesdays volunteers meet at one of the reserves we manage in the south of the county. The group rotates to a different reserve most weeks.

Reserves include:
Broadstreet & Backside Commons (Guildford)
Chinthurst Hill (Wonersh Common)
Colekitchen Down (Gomshall)
Crooksbury Hill (Farnham)
Cucknells Wood (Shamley Green)
McAlmont Reserves (Compton)
Puttenham Common (Puttenham)
Rodborough Common (Milford)
Seale Chalk Pit (Seale)
Sheepleas (East Horsley)
Shere Woodlands (inc. West Hanger, Combe Bottom & Netley Plantation) (Gomshall)
Thundry Meadows (Elstead)
Vann Lake (Ockley)
Wallis Wood (Wallis Wood)
Whitmoor Common (Guildford)

Wednesdays

On Wednesdays, volunteers meet at one of the reserves we manage in the east of the county. The group rotates to a different reserve for most weeks.

Reserves include:

Blindley Heath (Blindley Heath)
Brockham Limeworks (Brockham)
Graeme Hendry Wood (Godstone)
Hackhurst Down (Gomshall)
Hedgecourt (Felbridge)
Hill Park (Tatsfield)
Howell Hill (East Ewell)
Newdigate Brickworks (Newdigate)
Norbury Park (Mickleham)
Nutfield Marshes (Redhill)
Quarry Hangers (Bletchingley)
Shabden Park (Chipstead)
Tillburstow Hill (Godstone)

Thursdays

On Thursdays, volunteers meet at one of the reserves we manage in the north of the county. The group rotates to a different reserve for most weeks.

Reserves include:

Bisley & West End Commons (Bisley)
Chobham Common (Chobham)
Gracious Pond (Chobham)
Papercourt Marshes (Send)
The Forest (East Horsley)
Wisley & Ockham Commons (West Byfleet & Ockham)

Once a month on Thursdays (mainly during autumn/winter) the group meets at a site near Camberley.

Reserves include:

Barossa (Camberley)

Poors Allotment (Camberley)

Brentmoor Heath (Lightwater)

Fridays

Bay Pond (Godstone) - Volunteers meet every Friday.

Norbury Park (near Leatherhead) - Volunteers meet third Friday of each month.

Sundays

Weekend volunteering generally takes place on Sundays.

Chitty’s Common (Guildford) -  Volunteers meet once a month on a Sunday.

Dawcombe or Fraser Down (Headley) - Volunteers meet regularly on Sundays (Sept-May).

Volunteer work party on heathland

© Surrey Wildlife Trust

Volunteer stories

Read what some of our practical volunteers have to say about their experience

Jane Saunders

Whilst taking a career break I discovered Surrey Wildlife Trust and have never looked back! Having lived in Surrey all my life I think it is a great county and one that is often overlooked. I had some time on my hands and wanted to do something to care for the county and its wildlife. Little did I know just how much I would enjoy the experience and how much I would learn. Volunteering is now part of my weekly routine.

The practical conservation days I have been involved in include cutting down scots pine, mire restoration, coppicing, building fences and mending a gate as well as moving cattle. I love it when you can see the fruits of your labours at the end of the day and know that you have made a positive difference. I originally thought that I would struggle in rainy weather and in the winter when it would be cold. However one of the best days I had was when it rained all day! If you have the right clothing and a hat you can work in any weather – although a fire in the winter always helps!

I have learned such a lot about wildlife, habitat management and just how rare some of our Surrey habitats are, such as lowland heathland. I have learned new words like hibernaculum and transect, I have seen an adder, glow worms, beautiful dragon flies and I have taken part in a nightjar survey.

The Rangers and Practical Volunteer Leaders are all very friendly, knowledgeable and willing to answer questions and share their knowledge. The volunteer days are a great way to meet a wide variety of people who share similar interests. Due to this camaraderie builds easily among volunteers.

from getting a good work out (the outdoors is your ‘green-gym’) did you know that being outdoors in nature can help clear and calm the mind. A report by Natural England found that being in nature has positive benefits on our wellbeing and promotes healthy living. So if you can spare a few hours a week, a month or during school holidays, look out for the practical conservation days which take place on a range of days during the week as well as at weekends across our wonderful county.

Robin Charlton

I have many interests in life, one of which is with all things relating to nature and the countryside.  Once, while taking a recreational walk on local heathland, I noticed signs indicating that the area was being managed by Surrey Wildlife Trust.  This awareness and a certain pride in our county, lead me to join the organisation, which for many years I followed as a passive member.

When I retired from full-time employment I realised that I would need something to keep me occupied, so I investigated volunteering with the Trust.  What I had not realised was that there are opportunities virtually every day of the week, so I signed up and joined the practical conservation days of my nearest geographical group.
 
This has taken me back to the heath, where we are usually engaged in “scrub clearance”.  In simple terms this is the removal of invading species of trees which would otherwise come to dominate and thereby destroy the habitat needed by some of our rarest birds and animals.

The scrub is cut using hand tools provided by the Trust, then dragged or a point where it is either piled up to create an area of wildlife shelter or burnt on a bonfire.  The work can be as physical as you want it to be: cutting, dragging, fire tending; so suitable for all abilities and ages.

So what do I get out of it?  Just a few things that come to mind:

Physical exercise:  For me it is perfect, as it is steady activity over a number of hours. Personally this is greatly preferable to the sterility of a gym.

Stimulating environment:  My particular experience is that the heath is lovely in all weathers; it feels great to be working out of doors close proximity to nature
Learning:  The work can be really immersive, giving a great opportunity to see things like lichens, fungi, invertebrates, birds and get the benefit of the knowledge of my fellow volunteers and our Ranger

Sense of achievement:  The good thing about physical volunteering is that it is usually easy to see the difference that the work has made.  With heathland scrub clearance there is a real buzz at the end of our session to take a few moments to look and see just what we have achieved; and all in the knowledge that it is to the benefit of maintaining a rare habitat with its particular species of plants and animals.

Camaraderie:  I have not yet mentioned that the volunteer days always have tea and lunch breaks.  Hot tea and biscuits provided; the perfect opportunity to sit and chat if so inclined.  Or equally, just unwind and contemplate the day’s progress and set a personal goal for the remainder of the session. 

Volunteer days are a great way to meet a wide variety of people who share similar interests
Jane SaundersVolunteer
volunteers creating bare ground for improvements to habitat

Jon Hawkins

Volunteer enquiries

Email volunteers@surreywt.org.uk
Call 01483 795464