Inspiring the next generation at Stackpole

Young volunteers helping to create a wildlife garden

Former policewoman Virginia is a Volunteer Management Trainee, based in the beautiful coastal area of Stackpole in Wales. Here she shares her top three highlights of the traineeship.

1) Meeting enthusiastic young people (and getting to bring my dog to work)

There are so many things I could mention that I've enjoyed, but I am going to focus on some of the young people I have met here. 

As part of my traineeship, I've enjoyed meeting with these enthusiastic and energetic youngsters and devising new ways for them to get involved with volunteering here at Stackpole. I've also been assisted by my four-legged friend, Bazil, in all my activities; being able to bring him to work each day has been a real bonus.

2) Creating a new wildlife garden

With the help of a group of young people from a local college, we were able create a new wildlife garden. They came to Stackpole to assist us in preparing the space for planting, as part of their John Muir award scheme. They enjoyed their time here so much that their lecturer has asked for a return visit with each new class for the foreseeable future.

We also now have a regular day each month where Duke of Edinburgh candidates offer their assistance with a variety of tasks on the estate - from conservation to scrub clearance.

Young volunteers helping to relocate a bug hotel
Young volunteers helping to relocate a bug hotel
Young volunteers helping to relocate a bug hotel

3) Looking after the coast

I've also been working on establishing a pool of potential volunteers from local groups and organisations, such as the guides and scouts to look after our coastline. Each year, the Marine Conservation Society asks for assistance to organise UK-wide Beachwatch Beach cleans. This involves not only collecting the litter from the beach, but recording each item to allow for the data to be examined, identifying the sources of rubbish and possible methods of elimination. 

Celebratory Welsh cakes on Freshwater Beach
Local scouts group celebrating beach clean with Welsh cakes
Celebratory Welsh cakes on Freshwater Beach

In September, I took on the role of organising one of these Beachwatch events on our own Freshwater Beach. My call for volunteers was answered by the local sea-scouts who turned out in uniform to assist, together with members of other organisations such as the local Ramblers and my trusty Duke of Edinburgh volunteers.

The Duke of Edinburgh Award Administrator gave us some very positive feedback, and we now have a great relationship with the team there. Some of the parents of the young people who took part have also approached me to say how much the scheme has helped their child grow in confidence.

Visitors to the area, who’ve seen the groups working, are often pleasantly surprised to learn they are local young people giving up their free time, and many stop to let me know how well they’re doing.

Working alongside these young people has given me hope that our special places will remain just that, with a little encouragement from us for others to connect.