George LeeHarris

In the face of uncertainty, with face-to-face activities suspended and normal routines stopped, our local groups have been putting in extra effort and getting creative to find new ways of engaging with their members! Banding together to support each other in new ways and reach new audiences through amazing online engagement, many have been more active than ever.

Helen Ensor's garden birds talk to BFriend

Helen Ensor's garden birds talk to B:Friend

Our groups are an asset to their communities. When lockdown began, many supported isolated members sending regular email bulletins with local wildlife info, word searches, quizzes and photo competitions. Sheffield group leader Helen gave a virtual talk on garden birds for B:Friend, a charity which supports isolated elderly residents in Doncaster by linking them up with companion volunteers. And the Central London group helped isolated members to connect with nature by posting ‘virtual walks’ around local spots on their Facebook page, to great positive feedback! A member of the North Cumbria group made an incredible 27 bug hotels using materials found on his daily exercise walk, kindly delivered to other group members.

North Cumbria group Bug hotel - Richard Dixon

North Cumbria group bug hotel - Richard Dixon

Many groups took to social media, often with help from new volunteers; running ‘lockdown garden birdwatch’ events, painting competitions, and sharing photos between members. Bexley group had over 500 new followers in just a few months! Some groups even went global: Solihull member Ashley Grove arranged a ‘Worldwide Garden Birdwatch’ event, with around 300 people taking part, representing 150 gardens across the world in 23 countries! The event raised over £1,700 and everyone who took part enjoyed connecting online with other wildlife enthusiasts in such a time of change.

Garden Birdwatch Blackboard - Ashley Grove

The Worldwide Garden Birdwatch list - Ashley Grove

Talk about settling in to a ‘new normal’ – loads of groups are now running their regular evening talks and social events online instead! Through December groups around the country hosted Christmas quizzes and socials online and even wacky jumper competitions, and Vale of White Horse group’s photo competition was judged by their online speaker for December - renowned wildlife photographer Andrew Cleave! Many groups are saying that online talks are here to stay for the cold and dark winter months - promoting online is proving a great way to reach out to new audiences who might not have come along to their evening talks before!

Technical difficulties are being turned into opportunities for collaboration - the Woodbridge group have been helping other groups to get started, and the Medway and Maidstone groups are forging a new partnership by co-hosting monthly online talks to share costs and skills, with other local link-ups now following suit. The Derby group have been hosting three other nearby RSPB groups to share their online events and the Macclesfield group have been linking up with other local wildlife organisations to invite more new people along!

To cap it all, groups are overcoming these difficulties to keep fundraising for the RSPB. For some groups, online events are now even more well attended than they were face-to-face, and the South Wilts group have made over £1000 in donations already. How inspiring is that?

New year - take action locally
Our local groups need your help to save nature in 2021! Now is the time to offer your ideas and experience to help our groups as they get creative, try new things and reach more diverse people and communities.

Find your nearest RSPB group and offer your help here

Subscribe to this blog: If you enjoy reading the latest news and updates from Nature's Home Magazine Uncovered - click on 'subscribe by email'  on the right.

For more on reserves, visit our Reserves A-Z and head over to our Bird A-Z for identification and behaviour information. Email: natureshome@rspb.org.uk

Anonymous