This week I’d like to share with you all an excellent volunteering opportunity specifically for those interested in protecting the environment and conservation. Read on to find out all about how Tyne Rivers Trust is taking care of the River Tyne and its surrounding communities.
What is Tyne Rivers Trust?
Established in 2004, Tyne Rivers Trust (TRT) is the only independent environmental charity dedicated to improving the Tyne Catchment.
The trust aims to improve the River Tyne and its tributaries by focusing on 5 key themes; increasing biodiversity, improving human health, reducing flood risk, improving people’s river experience and boosting education and community involvement.
Tyne Rivers Trust now has almost 200 volunteers from across the region, working together to preserve the river for future generations.
What volunteering activities are on offer?
The range of volunteering activities the trust offers varies greatly – there’s something to suit everyone’s interests.
Tasks include litter picks, river debris clearance, path clearance, invasive species control and walkover surveys, woodland management, willow weaving, riverfly monitoring, and water quality monitoring.
The activities also vary depending on the time of year; summer tasks focus on invasive species while winter tasks concentrate on tree work.
Volunteer Coordinator Jenny Elliott, who has been involved with Tyne Rivers Trust since she began volunteering there in 2016, said:
“Our volunteering programme is all about engaging with people throughout the Tyne catchment to improve knowledge and value of our rivers.
“We want to improve the River Tyne and its tributaries in every way we can. We do this through various community projects, tasks and monitoring schemes, as well as going into schools to teach children about the inhabitants of our river, mainly Mayfly and Salmon.
“Our volunteer programme helps people of all ages and capabilities, encouraging them to get outdoors and active and improve their skills; whilst improving the river catchment.”
As well as the activities listed above, Tyne Rivers Trust also runs several monitoring schemes that do not require staff presence. These allow those with busy schedules to take part in volunteering in their own time. Jenny said:
“We have two monitoring schemes. One is Riverfly monitoring where volunteers go out on their local stretch of river to do a kick sample and collect river invertebrates, with particular focus on riverflies.
“The contents collected are then identified and the results reflect the health of our river – Riverflies are sensitive to pollution so a large varied population of species shows the river is healthy.
“Adopt a Stream is another monitoring scheme where individuals or groups undertake water quality testing directly by measuring the different chemicals in the river, as well as observing changes and impacts in the area.”
How can getting involved benefit volunteers?
As well as benefitting the River Tyne and its surrounding communities, volunteering with Tyne Rivers Trust also has a positive impact on the volunteers themselves.
Ray, who has been volunteering with the trust since February 2016, said:
“The other volunteers are great and very friendly, the day to day banter is fabulous. Then of course the TRT staff have all been wonderful especially the two coordinators Jenny and previously Simone.
“Volunteering with the TRT is just like being a big kid again, out all day playing in the river and mucking about in a sort of coordinated fashion!
“If you’re thinking about volunteering, just go for it. There’s always something to do and we have a good laugh too!”
John, who has also been a volunteer at Tyne Rivers Trust since 2016, emphasised that the flexibility of TRT makes it an ideal volunteering opportunity for those with busy schedules:
“Unlike some charities and organisations, which require their volunteers to commit to a set number of days or times, the Tyne Rivers Trust sends an email to the volunteers each month listing the volunteer day dates, times, locations and tasks.
“The volunteers are then free to choose which days they wish to attend and how many hours they wish to spend on the activity.
“I like this flexibility, because I am busy with other activities, and not always free to attend volunteer days. I undertake voluntary work about every 7 to 10 days.”
Since becoming a volunteer, John has taken part in a huge range of volunteering actives, including tree planting to improve biodiversity and slow down rainfall run off, Electro-Fishing surveys to determine the numbers and condition of fish, and pruning, planting and weaving of willow to stabilise banks – to name just a few.
He went on to describe the value of volunteering with Tyne Rivers Trust:
“I enjoy volunteering with Tyne Rivers Trust because it involves making worthwhile improvements to the Tyne River Catchment Area, meeting, working with and enjoying the company of new people who become friends, working in the beautiful Northumberland countryside, benefiting from physical exercise and fresh air, obtaining a sense of purpose and achievement, and enjoying new activities which I have not previously undertaken.
“By undertaking voluntary work on tasks such as tree planting, I am saving the Tyne Rivers Trust the cost of employing people to do this work, thereby assisting its financial viability.
“Volunteering with the Tyne Rivers Trust has been a positive experience and I encourage anyone with spare time to consider undertaking voluntary work for an organisation or charity, of which there are many to choose from.”
Volunteering with TRT can also be beneficial for students specifically.
This volunteering experience would be particularly ideal for students in the field of Geography or Geology, or even just those with the desire to protect and preserve their local environment for future generations.
However, no matter which degree programme you are studying, getting involved with volunteering can equip you with vital transferable skills that employers are looking for. Jenny, who volunteered with Tyne Rivers Trust when she was a student at university, said:
“Volunteering provides great experience for students. Volunteering regularly throughout the year shows a lot of commitment and passion and is highly valued by employers.
“Volunteering doesn’t just provide practical hands-on experience, teaching students about different conservation methods and how to undertake certain tasks, but it also improves communication skills, planning and organisation skills and gives a huge boost to confidence and other connections.”
How can I get involved?
Alternatively, you can email Volunteer Coordinator Jenny Elliott directly on: firstname.lastname@example.org
That’s it for this week’s blog post – I hope you enjoyed reading all about the work of Tyne Rivers Trust and feel inspired to get involved!
See you next week!