Countrycare is committed to community involvement for adults and children to help raise awareness of ecological and conservation issues in the district. This is achieved by holding weekly conservation project days which are open to all, running research projects with our Tree Wardens and organising walks and events.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of Countrycare. Since 1986, over 139,000 volunteer hours have been given to the service. This amounts to an enormous £863,000 worth of time.
How do I volunteer?
Countrycare organises a working party for volunteers every Thursday, occasional Tuesdays and occasional weekends. Contact our Countrycare team to talk to a member of staff for more information.
We also try and to do occasional social days out which includes visits to other Nature Reserves and sites of interest. The last two summers we have given the volunteers a guided walk with a picnic. These highlighted how the sites are connected rather being seen in isolation.
Where is the work carried out?
Countrycare works on sites throughout the Epping Forest District. Work is done on over 23 sites mostly owned by the District Council, landowners and Parish Councils, nine of which are Local Nature Reserves. The sites are very varied including ancient woodland, flood meadows and even sites that were once waste ground that are having wildlife habitats created on them.
It is entirely up to you whether you come out every week, once a month or whenever you have a day free. There is no official membership and everyone is welcome.
How do I get to the site?
For all the Thursday projects there is a 9.30am pick-up in the Countrycare Landrover from a Central Line tube station and return at the end of the day, usually by 4.30pm. Otherwise you can make your own way to the published meet point. Many of our volunteers have decided to share cars.
What do I need to bring?
Countrycare projects are often messy so old clothes are the best option. Some waterproof jacket and over-trousers (if you have them) are very useful, as are wellington boots or sturdy walking boots, preferably with steel toecaps, but this is not essential. Tea and biscuits are supplied three times a day, but you will need to bring your own lunch and any cold drinks you may want. All the necessary tools are supplied, as is all the training and support that you will need to complete the project.
Projects are not usually abandoned because of rain, which is why waterproofs are necessary, but if working conditions become unsafe the decision will be taken to stop working for the day.
Do volunteers get involved in any other activities apart from the working parties?
Each summer Countrycare gives the volunteers a break from the usual tasks and offers them a guided walk or similar with a picnic. In December, there is an outdoor Christmas lunch following a morning’s work. There is also an opportunity to help participate in some of the special events Countrycare organises for school children and families.