RSPB volunteer Tim Bishop relishes the opportunity to do something for the wildlife he loves, but it’s not just wildlife that benefits from his volunteering. In today’s blog for Volunteering Week, Tim explains how volunteering has helped his own health and wellbeing.
Volunteering is great for me; not only does it enable me to take positive action for something that I am passionate about, it also does so much for me too. In fact, it does more for me than I can do for it…
There are clearly the physical benefits; I sleep very well after working hard on the reserve and it helps build and maintain core strength and overall fitness. However, the most powerful aspect is the support to mental health. It is so powerful in its ability to take you away from the trials and tribulations of life. This is in no small part due to the team of people (wardens and volunteers) you work with, like-minded yet varied souls who become a network of people you truly value having in your life. The camaraderie and support within the team is always beneficial. Then there is the variety of activities that I don’t normally do and putting one’s mind to challenges such as “whats the best way to build this raised platform?”, or “how do I light this bonfire with wood that is covered in ice?”. All of these are great ways to clear the mind and get a break from the many other questions, demands and doubts that occupy my mind at times.
Why the RSPB?
I have always had a passion for wildlife, however I had a very busy and demanding working life, with nature being put to the back of the queue. Seven years ago however, a friend (also an RSPB volunteer) suggested that I would most likely enjoy volunteering with the RSPB. I was already a member and love the work of the RSPB so I attended a volunteers’ event and as a result started volunteering at Broadwater Warren. Most recently I volunteer at The Lodge, as I now live in Bedfordshire. I have also taken a change in career, dedicating my working time to raising funds for conservation work in the UK and around the world. This change was in part inspired by the greater satisfaction I was getting from helping the RSPB.
Over the winter at The Lodge we focused heavily on clearing birch and willow from the heathland areas while also maintaining fencing, however over the last few weeks we have had a totally different project – the play area! We have been creating challenges for kids (of any age!) using trees that were felled as part of the heathland works. This is a fine example of reusing natural materials and it is great to help put them to good use for the future generation of wildlife ambassadors. It’s been interesting work as some of the activities require holes for the trunks considerably deeper than the vast majority of people who will use the activities! We have constructed balance beams, hurdles, a raised platform, weaving posts and even drums! It will be brilliant if efforts such as this help get more people engaged with nature.
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