Welcome back and thank you for joining us on our last National Volunteers’ week blog on the 8th! -because who says Friday has to be the end. Although National Volunteers’ week is a wonderful way to thank our volunteers, it’s important that displaying our gratitude and appreciation is not only limited to this week. But what a great week it has been, I hope you enjoyed reading all these wonderful stories as much as we did. A big thank you to everyone who contributed and made the celebrations a possibility.

As our last National Volunteers’ week blog, we have a bit of a special one for you today, some of you may have already seen him in involve 2018 but what you might not know is that Ben Hide is this very same Ben who looks after our Community Pages Blog. It is thanks to him that all the blogs you have read this week got published. So, a big thank you to him and I hope you enjoy meeting the man behind the posts…

My name is Ben Hide and I’ve been volunteering with the RSPB for nearly nine years now. Having undergone surgery to remove a brain tumour shortly before my 21st birthday (I’m now in my late 30s) my working life has always been somewhat compromised. Since leaving hospital and spending some time in recovery, I have returned to, and completed, my University degree but have struggled to find consistent, long-term employment in a suitable sector. This is where the RSPB comes in.

 Whilst searching for jobs on the internet with my mum, she suggested volunteer roles, specifically RSPB volunteer roles. I had always had a love of the natural world, and particularly birds (apparently, I could name most birds in my Grandad’s bird book when I was 3!) so, given my struggles to find suitable employment, it seemed like a good option. I found a role requesting a Picture Researcher, working in the PR department and soon after started what soon turned from a short-term role into a 6-month stint!

Gaining skills and experience
It wasn’t just a lack of success in finding and/or applying for paid employment that led me in the direction of voluntary work, but also the chance to contribute to a worthwhile cause and internationally renowned conservation charity that was a big driving factor. It was also an opportunity to gain valuable skills and experience that would enhance my CV and future job prospects. Indeed, I have applied for a few different paid roles during my time here and, although I have narrowly missed out on more than one occasion, I am more than happy to lend my skills in a voluntary capacity.

Currently, I am volunteering for the RSPB’s Volunteering Department, helping to run their social media channels (mostly Facebook) and to produce blogs and copy centred around anything volunteering related, spending about 4 hours every Friday at the RSPB’s HQ, The Lodge. I have also recently finished another role, working with the Publications team as an Editorial Assistant. This mostly involved reading and responding to emails from RSPB members in relation to Nature’s Home magazine.

Feeling valued and appreciated
I thoroughly enjoy both roles; they each offer something different in terms of content, but equally they both help me to feel part of a team. I’m contributing to the work of a fantastic organisation, whilst getting out of the house and feeling valued and appreciated. I have held my role as Social Media Volunteer for the Volunteering Department for 4 years and enjoy the weekly input and reactions on Facebook, as well as generally spreading good news stories about the fantastic work of our volunteers. My other role allowed me to see the inner workings of a magazine, whilst also getting to communicate with members and see a huge range of wildlife photography!

The spare time afforded me by volunteering allows me to work on my own writing and creative pursuits. I am now working towards becoming a creative writer, working on children’s books, screenplays and TV formats.

Ben Hide

For more content check back daily throughout the week on the community pages and the celebrating our volunteers page.

Interested in getting involved? You can find opportunities here.

Got a volunteering query? Contact the volunteers team at volunteers@rspb.org.uk

Find more about National Volunteers’ week