What I did on my volunteering day – Harry
5 September 2016, by Harry Cummings
On Monday 13th June, I worked with an organisation called The Conservation Volunteers at one of their sites near Harringay Green Lanes. They do all sorts of work all over London (and in fact have groups over the rest of the country too), so it’s really easy to find something to join in with on their website.
We were working at Railway Fields, a small conservation area tucked away behind Finsbury Park. I’d never come across it before, but it was obviously well used by locals, with lots of families with small children passing through during the day. It was nice to discover another little green space like this in London.
There were about ten other volunteers there on the day, mostly a mix of London-based retirees and Italian ERASMUS students. We were loosely coordinated by a guy called Mat who’s employed by TCV. Everyone was very friendly and welcoming.
People split into groups of two to four, to work on whatever needed doing. It was all very relaxed and a bit slow to get going, but pretty productive once we got underway. It initially felt a bit like a first day at a new job, but it didn’t take long to get involved and felt like I was able to make a good contribution.
There were all sorts of jobs going: I spent time hammering in wooden path edges that had previously been cut to size, clearing foliage around the planned route of the path, and laying out and cutting to size the edges of the path that hadn’t been reached yet.
The day was scheduled to finish at three o’clock but I get the impression that the timetable is a bit flexible. We actually stopped at around a quarter past three, when a torrential downpour started a mad dash to get all of the tools and materials under cover.
I’d definitely recommend TCV if you’re looking for something to volunteer for and fancy some outdoor work. I found it helpful to be comfortable with basic tools (and I think they were pleasantly surprised that I was vaguely competent at simple woodwork), but this certainly isn’t a prerequisite. There was a big range of more/less skilled and more/less physical tasks and everyone had something to do. There was a very positive community spirit to the whole thing and I left feeling very good about the day, despite getting drenched at the end of it.