Lending a helping hand at Slimbridge Wetland Centre
PUBLISHED: 10:28 05 February 2019
Give a little time, make a big impact at Slimbridge Wetland Centre
Gloucestershire is home to many fine institutions and has a strong reputation for the breadth of its charitable sector but none with such international impact, as leading conservation organisation, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) based at Slimbridge. Often referred to as the birthplace of modern conservation, Slimbridge Wetland Centre is a vibrant tourist attraction and WWT’s national headquarters, where it strives to literally save species from extinction around the globe.
It is a little-known fact that the founder of WWT, Sir Peter Scott, was the originator of conservation television back in the early 1960’s and is also credited with inspiring Sir David Attenborough back in the day. WWT has a strong pedigree and is well known for breaking boundaries and seeming to achieve the impossible, whether at home or abroad.
So, it’s no surprise that the Heritage Lottery Fund has contributed £4.1 million to Slimbridge Wetland Centre, to support the creation of nine exciting new and inspirational wildlife experiences and activities, launching between now and the end of 2020. At the heart of the new plans for Slimbridge is a mission to offer people more space to experience wildlife and the techniques used in conservation, greater access to explore the reserve and the wild places of international importance and more opportunities to imagine how people can be part of a journey to improve our planet for all life, just like Sir Peter Scott and many others before.
The proposal to construct new state-of-the-art experiences has been tightly planned around the patterns of the migrating birds, WWT members and day visitors. The project has carefully created a seamless transition and is soon to launch the much-anticipated Arctic Adventure, an authentic Tundra research station, right in the middle of Gloucestershire and for the first time ever, Sir Peter Scott’s former home will be opened to visitors, for a glimpse of this legendary man and his auspicious life.
As the construction schedule takes off, the centre is now planning a large-scale recruitment campaign, to enrol a new flock of volunteers to support the next generation centre. It’s exciting times for Slimbridge Wetland Centre, as it develops and grows to provide an exceptional visitor experience for the hundreds of thousands of people who spend days out there each year and of course inspire the next generation of British conservationists!
The staff team at the centre is almost doubled when you consider the sheer volume of local people who volunteer there each year. Just a few hours spent volunteering at Slimbridge can make a world of difference. The centre is encouraging even more volunteers to be part of something amazing and help to encourage people to protect wetlands and their wildlife for future generations.
There are a broad range of volunteer roles on offer, from Discovery Guides who will share the amazing wildlife stories to Roving Engagers ensuring that visitors get the most out of their Slimbridge experience. There are also new Tour Guides planned for the Scott House, helping to showcase Sir Peter Scott’s former home and tell the story of the importance of Slimbridge.
You don’t need any expert knowledge to volunteer at Slimbridge, just a keen interest in people and wildlife, a flexible approach and a ‘can-do’ attitude. A detailed induction and full training and support is provided for all new volunteers and with so many existing volunteers on site, there will always be someone on hand to help.
WWT volunteers – what do they say?
Duncan retired a few years ago and has visited Slimbridge regularly for years and volunteers as a Welcome Host.
“I first started volunteering at Slimbridge because I love the place, the wildlife and the work that WWT does. I enjoy passing on my love of the place to other people. I love talking to the visitors and using the skills from my previous job to talk to enthuse them about what they will see on their visit. For me it’s all about the visitors and finding out what they enjoyed seeing and learning.”
Emma is a family engagement volunteer, setting up activities in education such as bug hunts, crafts, pond dipping and helping with school trips.
“I enjoy working with children, they get so excited about everything. That age between two and four - they’re so open to new ideas and experiences. I’m looking to get back into work but wanted to do something different from my previous job. As my children are at school I can spend some time volunteering a few hours a week and gain some new experience. Everyone’s so friendly, it’s like a community.”
To help people find out more about volunteering at Slimbridge, the centre is running two Volunteer Open Days, the first on Thursday, February 13 and the final one on Monday March 2, from 1pm-4pm at Slimbridge Wetland Centre. You’re welcome to turn up on the day or register your interest online in advance.
At the Volunteer Open Days you can find out more about each of the volunteering opportunities, with different teams from across the centre on hand to answer any questions, and people will be able to join a short-guided walk or listen to an introductory talk on volunteering with WWT.
Whether you’re looking to meet new people, learn new skills or spend time in an inspiring environment, there’s a volunteer role for you at Slimbridge Wetland Centre. Be part of something new and exciting and give a little time and see a big impact. To find out more about the range of volunteering opportunities visit the website here.