Volunteering with us
Volunteering with us can be a great way to make a difference in your community. Find out more about the experience with these shared stories from our volunteers.
Kirkby volunteer Peter Frogson
Peter, an ex-mining and associated occupations worker, is a member of the Volunteer Friends of Oakwood Fields (VFOF), Annesley Woodhouse conservation group. He regularly gives his time and expertise in helping with practical tasks on the nature site. This has included helping with ground clearance, publicity and nature walks for local residents and schools.
Peter somehow manages to balance his membership of VFOF with several other conservation-volunteering commitments. This includes acting as a volunteer for us by helping to keep public footpaths in the Nuncargate and Kirkby Woodhouse area free of litter and other debris, providing a keen ‘pair of eyes’ in alerting local councils and other agencies to environmental issues as they arise. He also makes regular patrols of the Portland Park. This is particularly appreciated by park users and the local council as the park is a Site of Special Scientific Interest with hidden ‘nooks and crannies’ that are susceptible to becoming litter traps.
Apart from his environmental commitments, Peter is a member of the St John’s Outreach and Foodbank, regularly giving of his time and energy in supporting vulnerable people living in the Kirkby Woodhouse area. He is also a keen member of the Pye Hill Male Voice Choir, performing with them at local events. Peter is so busy with his numerous volunteering roles in the Kirkby in Ashfield area that for some time it was thought he must have a twin brother or stunt double volunteering round and about as he is so often present at volunteering events!
He also holds the town record for the largest number of litter bags collected in any given month and Peter’s fantastic contributions to the local community were recently recognised with a Greenwood Forest Community Award.
Kirkby volunteer Chloe Hunt
My name is Chloe Hunt and I am a recent Geography BSc graduate. I began volunteering at Ashfield District Council in September 2018 as an Environmental Protection Land Volunteer to gain practical and hands on experience in all aspects of Environmental Protection for my future career.
I have been working with the Environmental Health Officers and Technical Officers assisting in planning applications relating to contaminated land, water quality investigations, nuisance complaints and animal welfare licensing.
Case Study: The team received a commercial rubbish complaint from a business owner who had not had his bins emptied for a considerable amount of time due to rubbish from a neighbouring business blocking access. I joined Jayne Taylor (EHO) for the inspection of the premises and we found overflowing bins, open bin bags on the floor and smashed glass everywhere.
We spoke to the different business owners to establish who was causing the issue and recommended that they clean it up or an enforcement notice would be issued. The owners cleaned up the area, thus resolving the complaint. Upon further investigation they were then fined for not having a commercial bin contract in place.
This case gave me valuable experience in dealing with potential conflict situations, investigating nuisance complaints and evidence gathering. I have also improved my customer service skills through dealing with members of the public and my knowledge of current legislation has grown. My experience so far as a volunteer has been extremely rewarding and I look forward to continuing to assist the team and build my skills further.
Kirkby volunteer - Gavin Thorne: from environmental volunteer to paid employment in 4 months
Gavin started volunteering for us after being referred by the Department for Work and Pensions. He was unemployed and wanted to do some volunteering to gain experience to help him into employment, whilst also giving something back to the local community where he lives.
After his induction with Community Engagement, Gavin was placed with the Kirkby Environment Team and soon started volunteering on a regular basis. He started getting involved with various duties to support the team and build his experience.
In just a few months, he had got stuck in with tasks including litter picking, emptying bins, cleaning graffiti and he has also passed a test to drive council vehicles! Through volunteering, Gavin has built his confidence, learned new skills, made new friends and most importantly, he has found a temporary job with us through Fresh Start Recruitment.
Gavin described his volunteer induction meeting as:
"Informal, friendly, informative and a very helpful introduction into what to expect from volunteering. The Environment Team were very friendly and welcomed me into my role. I’ve built a great rapport with the staff, we always have a good laugh and the days fly by. My Volunteer Supervisor is great, extremely supportive and encouraging."
Gavin said of his volunteering experience:
"It has given me an opportunity to prove myself, demonstrate my skills and learn new ones. It has given me a sense of purpose and something to get up for in the morning.” Gavin continued “I am really proud that I have managed to get off benefits through my volunteering experience. I have thoroughly enjoyed volunteering with the Council and would highly recommend it to anyone."
Task forces in the rural areas
Litter pickers have come out in force on a regular basis in the Rural areas of Jacksdale, Selston and Underwood to help maintain a clean and tidy area.
Volunteers want to make a difference and this is their way of doing it as part of a group or as an individual to suit themselves. These volunteers are provided with the tools and materials to carry out their roles once they have been registered with us.
Ben Wilson accessed this opportunity in the first place to help towards his Scout environmental badge and became our first individual ‘Green Buddy’. Helen Storer and Ben Wilson feel very passionate about their duties and often go out together as friends to clean up the area.
Skegby volunteer - Sharon Cooper
Sharon Cooper, one of our regular Skegby volunteers, began volunteering for us in August 2018. Like many of our volunteers, Sharon wanted to do something to make a difference in her local community, so signed up as a litter picking volunteer.
She is regularly out with her trusty litter grabber (and sometimes her husband!) in and around the Dalestorth Road and Mansfield Road areas of Skegby. Since she began volunteering, Sharon has been filling in a volunteer activity log and in her first 4 months, clocked up over 43 hours and collected an amazing 80+ bags of litter. Sharon has continued litter picking and on her latest activity log has done a further 37 hours whilst collecting another 43 bags of litter – an incredible achievement.
Sharon is enjoying litter picking and says:
"A little volunteering in your spare time soon adds up and makes a real difference”.
She has also inspired her neighbours to get involved too, as some now want to join her on her mission to keep Ashfield tidy. Sharon has also been busy cleaning up Sutton Parkway train station, which has resulted in her being part of the East Midlands Trains’ 'adopt a station' initiative.
With all of this volunteering, it is hard to believe that Sharon also manages to find time to work! Sharon is just one shining example of the many wonderful volunteers who willingly give up their free time to make a massive difference in their local community.
We value and recognise the work of all our volunteers and community groups in supporting front line services. The contribution made by our volunteers, however large or small, further supports our efforts in providing a clean environment for residents to enjoy.
Sports and events volunteer - John Geoghagen
John has mild learning difficulties and has used his volunteering experience to gain confidence and a range of sports specific qualifications which will hopefully help him gain employment.
John has been actively involved in the our volunteer scheme for several years now. He has attended training workshops and helped at many local sporting events. He has also regularly volunteered for the Boccia Leagues travelling between both Hucknall and Sutton to help.
In November 2010, John achieved the Active Ashfield Platinum Volunteer Award at the Annual Sports Awards. This award is presented to our most active volunteers. In 2010, John was also voted the Disabled Sports Person of the year for his commitment to volunteering with disabled groups.
"Litter picking has not only made a massive difference to the cleanliness of my local community but it has also improved my health and wellbeing. On days when I’m out litter picking my steps have increased by 150% and as a result I feel fitter, healthier and I’ve lost weight - another great reason to get involved!"
"We both decided to try and clean up our local area a little, and the Place and Wellbeing team at Ashfield Council were happy to provide us with all the equipment required to make this a success. It doesn't take long to get on board with registration, and Donna was very supportive for us to get involved. We wanted to help out on an ad-hoc basis, so we were given our own litter picking kit, to use whenever we require. We have just got back from our first pick and filled two bags full. Got a real buzz out of getting stuck in and making a start!"
Hucknall volunteers - Love Where You Live
A group of Broomhill residents have been helping to keep their area free from litter by taking part in regular litter picks and environmental tasks around their neighbourhood. The group are becoming familiar sight around the estate and provide invaluable support for their local community, giving their time and skills in order to create a better environment for all residents to enjoy.
The group came together following the launch of our Good Neighbour Scheme following initial support from the Complex Case Team and the Engagement Team at ADC which seeks to encourage the idea of self helps schemes.
‘Love Where You Live’ events have been held over the past year were residents were asked to comment on what was good within the area and to discuss ways in which ‘they’ could get involved to make things better. A group of residents pledged their support to take part in organised community clean ups and environmental action events, ie litter picks, supporting neighbours and tree and flower planting within the surrounding area.
The group really enjoy their weekly get together, a local resident said:
"the group has helped me to feel more confident in going out and about, I have met new people and I’ve been able to go along to different community events and try new things. Before doing this I would have been too scared to help out."
Another resident said:
"it makes me proud to look after my estate and I can see its making a difference."
A local resident also feels this has helped them with their health.
"I’ve had a few mental health problems over past year and the litter picks have really helped me take my mind off these issues. I enjoy going out with the group to litter pick and help the community, it’s really worthwhile."
The group meets regularly and are committed to helping the Broomhill estate long-term. If you would like to do something similar and help your community going forward please contact:
- telephone: 01623 457345