Hello and welcome to our latest blog- usually these are all about sightings but today we need to ask for help in another way. Since we reopened about a month ago, we have installed a Welcome Point at the side of the Visitor Centre to welcome visitors to the reserve in a COVID-secure way. We keep a mobile reserve map, sightings board and a volunteer or staff member is always there during our opening hours of 9am to 5pm to welcome people. However, at the moment, many of our regular volunteers are unable to volunteer with us on their usual days, and so we are appealing to anyone out there with an interest in wildlife who feels they could commit a day or a half day per week (or even once a fortnight) for the remainder of the time that we live under restrictions. When the time comes (and it could be a long time away) when we can reopen the Visitor Centre and operate in a normal fashion, we may or may not be able to have our traditional volunteers back with us and we may need help more permanently.

The days we really need help are Mondays, Wednesdays and weekend days. Even if you just want to do half a day with us once a fortnight, that would be very useful!

What we are looking for and what the role would involve:

Each day at the moment we open our main roadside gate by 9am and then assemble our Welcome Point outside, as the setup we have is all waterproof. Our volunteers can either sit or stand outside next to it (if the weather is fine) or sit in the doorway to the Centre if they prefer. As visitors approach, you would explain welcome them, give details of our current wildlife highlights and where to go for the best chances of seeing what it is the visitors have come to see. You would also take payment for entry for non-members, as well as payment for items from our cafe, which at present we are handing to visitors after taking payment.

You would have the full support of the reserve team here, both in getting you set up and fully trained as a volunteer, and throughout your time with us- there would always be someone else in the building with you. You would receive any PPE you wish to use, RSPB uniform, a name badge and be very welcome to join in our regular programme of social events once we are able to resume these again- local pub quizzes, group days out to nature reserves of interest and bowling nights often featured in our spare time prior to lockdown and will do so again one day.

We are looking especially for people who love Lakenheath Fen and want to show others how nice it is too, and who want to ensure visitors have the best time with us they possibly can. For some visitors that means a simple sit down to enjoy the view and perhaps a picnic, whereas for others that might mean a walk down to Joist Fen whatever the weather to spend hours looking for bearded tits- all our visitors are different. In time, we hope to have our hire facilities running again, where we lend out pond-dipping kits and activity backpacks to children and binoculars to visitors of all ages, to help them engage with nature. We also hope to restart membership recruitment in the near future too, where visitors that want to join the RSPB as members can do so here at the reserve, so your role would eventually include these duties too.

So if you have an interest in wildlife and enjoy engaging with a wide variety of other people who share this enthusiasm, then please get in touch with us. You can pop in to see us any day of the week- just ring the doorbell and explain that you'd like to be a volunteer and we can take it from there. You can also phone us on 01842 863400 or e-mail us at lakenheath@rspb.org.uk.

We look forward to hearing you and please get in touch if you have any questions or think this might be for you!

- The RSPB Lakenheath Fen team