On the anniversary of our pledge to the #iwill campaign Phoenix Forum member Will shares his experience of volunteering with the RSPB:

I have been volunteering at the RSPB nature reserve just down the hill from where I live, for as long as I can remember.

Whether it was helping out with the local RSPB Wildlife Explores group, or carrying stupidly heavy railway sleepers up a 2km stretch of hill path to build a pond, I’m out and about helping around the reserve in one way or another pretty much every week. It’s an amazing way to experience the place whilst you’re helping it out.

I think volunteering with and around nature, is the best way to achieve things like Duke of Edinburgh because not only is it ticking a box for the challenge but you can learn and see things that you may not in other volunteering situations (eg helping out with your younger siblings rugby team).

From volunteering I have learnt many skills, like coppicing, which at first glance looks detrimental to the environment but is in reality quite the opposite, because it can create great places for butterflies and wild flowers which would often get swallowed up by bramble. Coppicing is great fun but I think that my favourite job at the reserve has to be when spring comes and this means chicks.

Tiny blue-tit chicks

Nuthatch fledgelings

One of the things I help out with is monitoring the bird boxes on the reserve and this is not only amazing because you get to see the awesome species that live there, but it’s the anticipation of seeing the eggs hatch. You get to watching the chicks grow week on week and eventually come to an empty box a knowing that they have all fledged. To get some of the boxes you may have to wade through swamps and scale trees, but that’s all part of the fun, cause who doesn’t love mud, right?

Ultimately when you finally get home aching because those logs weren’t gonna carry themselves and you can’t feel your feet because your so cold, you get amazing feeling of accomplishment because you got outside you’ve helped the world in your own small way and you’ve even got the bramble scratches to prove it.

And maybe if wading through rivers, caked in mud with your trusty spade isn’t your thing then even helping out at your local RSPB Wildlife Explorers group would be appreciated. Because nothing amounts to that amazing feeling of well being and fulfillment when you know that you HAVE done something and not just stayed at home and wished had done this and that.


The #iwill campaign seeks to provide opportunities for 10-20 years-olds UK wide, allowing them to use their immense potential to help charitable causes.