Volunteer: Projects Assistant, Dark Peak

Steve, one of the Peak District's project assistant volunteers

Steve, one of the Peak District's project assistant volunteers

Steve Maynard
Projects Assistant Volunteer
Dark Peak, Peak District

Why volunteer for the National Trust?

We all have our reasons; for me, initially at least, the answer was simple. I have always been a keen walker and as a part-time supply teacher with time on my hands I wanted to “give something back” to the natural environment. Most people associate the Trust with stately homes, but the connection for me has always been with the iconic landscapes of the Dark Peak. I wanted to play my part in preserving these places for future generations.

What did the work involve?

Having met my new line manager, Projects Officer Steph Hinde, and been welcomed to the team, I was soon involved with my first assignment, monitoring dipwells near Snake Top. The aim was to measure changes in the water table on a monthly basis to assess the effects of restoration work.

After being taught how to use a GPS and a radio, off I went with two fellow volunteers. I enjoyed this task and more were to follow: monitoring bracken concentrations, surveying wildflower meadows and mapping a fence line. I was also sent on an Outdoor First Aid course. In each of these cases I learned new skills, met interesting people, and visited places that I might never have gone to on my own. All the while, I was fulfilling my original aim of doing something useful for the environment.

What did you then go on to do?

I was enjoying myself so much that I started to wonder about how to break into this line of work. Coincidentally, in January 2011 the Moors for the Future Partnership began advertising for casual workers. This organisation, dedicated to the restoration of degraded moorlands, was looking for people with an interest in the outdoors and a background in conservation. So, with a hastily updated CV and a reference from Steph (thanks!), I was granted an interview and gained one of the posts.

I started work there as an Airlifting Assistant and have now progressed to the additional posts of Conservation Works Officer and Research Assistant. One of my interviewers for this latter post openly admitted that my voluntary work for the National Trust was the deciding factor in granting me the job.

So, if you’re reading this and still thinking Why volunteer for the National Trust?” then I encourage you to give it a go. We’d love to have you aboard and you will learn new skills, meet new people, see new places, make a genuine contribution to the upkeep of the environment – and, possibly, kickstart a new career!