We are excited to announce the launch of the third of five campaign themes which underpin the work of their charity and people.

The motivations behind the ‘Building Outdoor Skills’ campaign are explained in a fantastic short video produced by Lightbox Inc. The video conveys the importance of providing opportunities for young people to gain experience and develop new skills in environmental and outdoor activities, which can subsequently open up pathways into volunteering and employment.

Andy Parsons, Chief Executive of South West Lakes Trust, said:

‘If South West Lakes Trust can make a positive difference to just one person’s life, that would be something worthwhile. However, I truly believe that our charity can help many more people, young and old, to gain new skills, develop confidence and have the motivation to find work or volunteering opportunities that they love and enjoy.’

In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of young people who are not in education, employment or training. For some, this can have a long-term detrimental effect on their future; about 80 per cent of employers think work experience is essential, according to a survey by the City & Guilds vocational training organisation.

Emily Cannon, Community and Learning Officer, said, ‘I think that outdoor practical work is really important in giving people the opportunity to gain experience and in helping them go on to their future careers. Here at the Trust we can offer a whole range of different opportunities including rural skills, conservation, heritage preservation work, and watersports instruction.’

 Volunteers make a significant contribution to our work. A key area of opportunity lies within the countryside team, working to complete environmental tasks and site maintenance. For example, the countryside wardens at Roadford are currently in the process of restoring and expanding the orchards into favourable condition. Further, the team in the West Cornwall area, in partnership with Cornwall Wildlife Trust, is delivering an important and exciting conservation project, Upstream Thinking. Funded by South West Water, the focus of the project is a catchment level approach to improving water quality and enhancing biodiversity in and around the reservoirs. The team works at College and Argal lakes, and on neighbouring farms, completing a varied range of conservation and countryside tasks including: fence repairs, scrub clearance, invasive species clearance, woodland management, meadow management and Cornish hedging. Considering the volume of work to be done, new members of the team are always very welcome! 

In addition to working with the countryside wardens, there are also opportunities to get involved with the activities team, supporting the activity instructors to deliver amazing experiences for people of all ages and abilities – both on water and on land. This is a great first step into becoming an instructor, and to start all you need is a passion for activities. These opportunities really help young people to grow their confidence and skills base.

The angling team is also keen to incorporate new volunteers. We manage a variety of lakes, which provide either trout or coarse fishing across the region. The fisheries require a vast amount of upkeep and maintenance, involving plenty of fishing-related tasks: litter picking, swim building, path maintenance, bank revetment, tree pruning, line clearance, angler liaison and grass cutting.

Alternatively, there is a growing team of volunteers based at Wheal Martyn Clay Works in Cornwall, a subsidiary charity of South West Lakes Trust. £1.35m has recently been secured to deliver an ambitious restoration project alongside an exciting activity programme, offering opportunities to local people to become involved in a variety of tasks associated with managing the museum, historic buildings and collections.

The Heritage Building Skills programme at Wheal Martyn, delivered with Cornwall College, will provide opportunities for new and existing volunteers, employees, and people from the local community, to learn some of the skills used in preserving heritage buildings, followed by the opportunity to use this training on-site within the built heritage volunteer group.

Thus, through our Building Outdoor Skills Campaign, we aim to give volunteers and young people the opportunity to develop a range of invaluable skills and experiences, which will not only help to create potential new career paths, but also provide a fresh outlook on life. However, volunteering is about more than just completing tasks; the experience encompasses a range of personal benefits and qualities, such as friendship, company, being active, the acquisition of new skills, and being outdoors.

 One volunteer described the benefits of their experience as ‘meeting people, gaining new practical skills and local knowledge, keeping fit – mentally and physically, and improving the local environment.’ Nicky Henderson (Prospects Services) said that her students ‘were truly engaged and totally felt part of the project they were working on…learning new skills and experiencing in many cases for the first time the feeling of pride in their environment. A great experience which led to four out of the five who attended gaining full time employment shortly afterwards.’

Crucially, the aim of the Building Outdoor Skills campaign is to enable people to turn their budding outdoor interests into skills, experience, and subsequently a career.

For more information call 01566 77193. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and watch the campaign video on Facebook and on our YouTube Channel.