Hampshire Conservation Volunteers is Registered Charity No. 1059273 and is run by a committee of volunteers. Here is a rough guide to their roles and responsibilities :
Elections to the committee are held at the Annual General Meeting, though members are often seconded in between. There are many other unofficial jobs to do, such as moving our display boards around, looking after the tools van, or helping with administration. Like any good group, we try to make best use of individual strengths, rather than expecting too much of people.
There is a meeting every other month at 8pm, alternating between the Old Ship, Swanwick and the Bridge Inn, Shawford. Dates are shown on the events page. All members are welcome to attend.
Yes and no. There are oodles of conservation groups in Hampshire, mostly working on one or two local sites. We try to have tasks over as much of the county as possible, though the north-west is difficult to cover. HCV doesn't own or lease any sites. We will take on large tasks, such as the boardwalk at Mottisfont or deer-fencing around Minstead Study Centre, which require a number of visits over a few years. There are other places that we have been going to for years because they are just brilliant.
The membership fee covers the cost of the newsletters. We charge the client an agreed fee for each person for a day's work. It's presently £7.50 per person-day. This helps to pay for tools, insurance, transport and general expenses. We are also reliant on grants and donations to balance the books. Each year we attend three or four shows and events, mainly for publicity but donations are not refused.
No. We are often asked if we can provide tasks for company employees, as part of a committment to engaging with the local community. We simply don't have the manpower available during the week. Other conservation organisations with full-time staff, such as Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, may be able to help. For the National Trust contact Lynn Willmott, Volunteering Development Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone 01794 344039.
No! We generally work for charities or other organisations
that manage land for the conservation of its wildlife.
Occasionally we work on sites of historical or archaeological
importance. We also work on land used for educational purposes,
such as study centres or school grounds.
We don't usually work for private landowners, unless the site is very unusual and there is a real commitment to its long-term conservation. Public access or visibility would be a desirable feature in these cases. An example is Ovington Water Meadows. These working water meadows require regular maintenance, as well as grazing in accordance with a Countryside Stewardship agreement. HCV has been happily digging the ditches here for longer than we care to remember.
The task leader is one of our volunteers who has probably been on quite a few tasks and is happy to see that everything goes well. Most of the work of a leader is done beforehand, such as checking details with the client and organising tools. The leader doesn't need to be an expert at the job in hand, but will have arranged for an experienced volunteer to be there. At the end of the task, the leader traditionally thanks everyone with the words "you've all made an important contribution to the (whatever) of Hampshire". Guidance is given on how best to lead a task.
We try to run every task unless there is a compelling reason not to. Gales might prevent us working in a woodland, or the roads might be blocked by snow. Rain doesn't usually stop some work from getting done, but the leader may decide to finish early to avoid a mutiny.
We have a tool store near Southampton. There is rarely any need for volunteers to bring their own tools. We also have a van, which is much safer to use for transporting tools than a car. It can be used by most drivers.
Brushcutters are very useful for tackling dense or large areas of scrub which would take a long time to do by hand with a slasher or loppers. They are noisy and can send debris flying off. You should keep 15 metres or 50 feet away. The operators are trained and wear appropriate protection, which prevents them from hearing what is going on elsewhere and tends to restrict their vision. Never approach from behind, but stand in front and wave. Throwing a small stick at the operator can get their attention.