Countryside Volunteers Wanted

Lancashire County Council are proposing volunteer opportunities within the Lancashire Countryside Service. There are a range of different opportunities and roles, which reflect the very diverse nature of the portfolio of 90 countryside recreation, open space and forestry site that Lancashire County Council manages.  These roles are;

  •  Information Rangers
  •  Beacon Fell Rangers
  • Site Patrol Rangers
  • Reactive Rangers
  • Local Community Rangers – eyes and ears (relevant to Parish Councils especially)
  • Practical Monday Rangers
  • Friends of Groups

This is a draft proposal & Lancashire County Council would like to gather the views of relevant groups / individuals before going any further.  The roles & proposal are explained in more detail below.

“As everybody will be aware the countryside service has undergone unprecedented change due to the financial challenges facing the County Council. The County Council will be retaining many of its countryside sites for free and open recreation. Our full time staffing has been greatly reduced and by April 2018 the service will have to meet its obligations with a much smaller team.

As part of the transformation Paul Shoreman has been appointed as Countryside Sites Officer and Volunteer Coordinator. As the name suggests it is proposed that volunteering within the service will still be an integral and extremely important part of what we do.

Volunteers and volunteering have been a major part of the service for many years. The benefits volunteering has are well understood, for volunteers themselves, for the host organisation and to members of the public that visit and enjoy our sites.

Below is a list of volunteer opportunities that we initially think we can resource and support. There is variety and we hope there is something for everybody who has an interest in the countryside service and for those who wish to be involved.

We would like to hear your views on these proposed roles, make suggestions and put forward any ideas you may have for the future. Nothing is set in stone and as is the nature of volunteering the volunteer offer will inevitably develop and “evolve” as we progress. The new approach is planned to start in April 2018.

As with anything new there will a process of “bedding in” and learning as we progress. We hope this information gives you an informed understanding of our volunteering aims. As always your involvement of volunteers is appreciated and your views and comments are an important part of getting things right.”

Proposed Opportunities

Information Rangers
This is an important role providing “face to face” contact for visitors. Duties would include providing country park information, dealing with queries from the public and deploying the trampers. It will also involve some practical tasks around the main hubs such as emptying of the bins, litter picking and tidying close to car parks and any other small jobs that crop up.

Duties would be at Beacon Fell and Wycoller & potentially Spring Wood depending on interest. The desire would be to have Beacon Fell & Wycoller covered especially at weekends and school holidays.

Basic training and uniforms would be provided with new volunteers shadowing experienced volunteers until confident to operate alone. New volunteers would be expected to attend interviews and provide references.

Beacon Fell Rangers
The wish would be to create a rota system whereby we could have a ranger presence on site for several days a week including at least one weekend day.

Duties would include checking the site for issues, dealing with visitors and incidents undertaking small repairs, emptying bins and clearing litter and feeding information into a site inspection & recording system.

To assist in this role a vehicle would be made available to utilise on the site. Access would be provided to obtain keys, tools and equipment.

Basic training and uniforms would be provided with new volunteers shadowing experienced volunteers for a probation period before operating alone. New volunteers would be expected to attend interviews and provide references.

Site Patrol Rangers
The proposal is to have volunteers operating on a rota system at weekends. This would be a combined role involving site checks and inspections, having a presence on site, reporting significant issues and reporting back and dealing with small/modest scale practical tasks. This would be focused on sites that have significant visitor use.

The role would involve utilising a vehicle from Carwags. Ideally between 2 and 4 rangers each day with one being nominated as the driver.

One weekend day would involve travelling to sites in the north of the county including Crook of Lune, Scorton, Conder Green and Warton Crag.

The other weekend day would involve visiting sites in the east and south of the county including, Spring Wood, Marles Wood, Barker Brow, Billington Wood, Hameldon Woods, Helmshore, Wycoller, Lee and Landgate Quarries.

Basic training and uniforms would be provided with new volunteers shadowing experienced volunteers. New volunteers would be expected to attend interviews and provide references.

Reactive Ranger Pool
A new proposal for those who like practical work – maybe a “countryside hit squad”? The idea is to have a system where volunteers can sign up to be included in a “pool” of rangers who can either be contacted at relatively short notice (a day or few days before) to deal with issues that arise from time to time on our sites. This could equally be planned dates for tackling a project. These may include damage that needs swift action, removing fly tipping, securing boundaries, replacing stiles or planting trees. This would be managed by the sites supervisor and resources would include using a vehicle, tools and equipment from Carwags base.

New volunteers would be trained in the various practical tasks that need to be undertaken.

Local “Community Rangers” – (strong links to Parish Councils)
There are volunteers within our service and members of the public who are regular users of specific sites and have a connection to them. Spring Wood, Crook of Lune, Wycoller are examples, but also include many of our “neighbourhood” sites such as Chisnall Hall, Rowley, Townley, Withnell Fold, Warton Crag, Quarry Hill, Marles Wood, Carr Wood, Scorton, Brandwood & Healey Nab.

We are looking to develop local groups and individuals with a connection and interest in these sites. The plan is to encourage individuals to be active on their sites. Links would be established and tools supplied locally with initial guidance and support. The aim would be to allow groups to operate very simply and effectively without the need to commit to formal set ups. If any existing volunteers would like be involved on a local site level and help to promote local involvement they would be more than welcome. On many sites we would like to plan ahead with calendar dates for “Action Days” on site, whereby we would advertise in advance for local volunteers to undertake small tasks on a planned basis.

Groups and individuals acting as local eyes and ears would be trained, briefed and provided with site information and inspection plans. Any volunteer operating under county council instruction would be covered by LCC insurance for third party and public liability.

Practical Mondays – Beacon Fell
This existing and successful group will continue to meet each Monday at Beacon Fell. As with all the volunteering opportunities we would be looking to promote and recruit to these roles in order to sustain them going forward.

Practical Monday volunteers will be trained and briefed according to the tasks being delivered.

Existing Friends of Groups
There are three existing Friends Groups, at Beacon Fell, Spring Wood and Wycoller Country Park. Although each of the groups is set up in a slightly different way and have slightly different priorities they are typically made up of people who have an affinity with the site and the people who visit them, have an interest in natural history or the outdoors and are keen to be part of a proactive group.

It is important that we understand what plans groups have for the future so that these aspirations can be integrated into our plans and supported accordingly and duplication of effort avoided.

If necessary further support can be given to Friends and this can be determined by each group’s aspirations and future visions.

Volunteer Safeguarding
Although tasking, guidance and support will be provided by full time staff for the roles above, volunteers will often need to operate independently and employ their own initiative. As stated all relevant training will be provided and procedures put in place to both safeguard volunteers and ensure correct health and safety requirements are met. Uniform will be provided for trained volunteers and all PPE provided for tasks undertaken. All relevant risk assessments for tasks and procedures will be provided and instruction given where required.

A system will be put in place where volunteers will have access to a mobile phone for their duty and be required to “book” on and off probably by text or voice message with a designated full time staff member.

Please send any comments to the countryside email address

or by post to.

Tim Blythe
Countryside Service Manager
Lancashire County Council
County Hall


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