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Volunteering with at ecological sites in the local community

The conservation and ecological restoration of green spaces around Trinity school play a crucial part in the area’s heritage, environment and protection of human health.

Through a range of volunteering opportunities offered to Trinity students throughout the academic year, the School hopes to support the work of the local organisations, alleviate some of the pressures they may be facing through their own volunteer-led organisations, as well as give the students the chance to grow their own confidence and engage with the community.

Volunteering opportunities are offered through one of two mechanisms:
Field Day: one day a term where older students spend the day volunteering locally
Sixth Form Diploma: six weeks each for the Lower and Upper Sixth students spending one afternoon a week volunteering locally.

Aims

There are two main aims of this work:
1. To support an improvement in green public spaces in the local community.
2. To provide an opportunity for Trinity Students to ‘give back’ to their local community, and to grow their listening and communication skills, their confidence and to be more socially integrated.

The immediate beneficiaries are the users of the local spaces we help to improve, although they would have no knowledge of the work the school does to support those spaces. Secondary to this, the organisations the School supports are also our beneficiaries since many of them are already run by volunteers and have very little resource and time themselves so we may be able to alleviate some of their pressures.

Background

Trinity School has long standing relationships (ten+ years) with a number of organisations in the local area that exist to support the ecosystems and open spaces around us. We are constantly researching the local area to assess whether any additionally identified needs could be supported through our volunteering programmes.

Resources

The Head of Community Action manages relationships with the named organisations and is responsible for the arrangements for placements during both Field Days and Sixth Form Diploma sessions.

The Director of Co-Curricular Activities oversees Field Days in their entirety with volunteering forming part of the day for two year groups.

Claire worked closely with the Head of Diploma regarding all sixth form placements: the volunteering aspect forms just one element of the Diploma.

Other members of teaching staff are involved during the volunteering placements. For Field Days, students are accompanied by 1-3 members of staff, depending on the size of group.

In Sixth Form, students are not accompanied to placements by staff, and the additional staff involvement is limited to the registration of students before going offsite. This is five teaching staff for approximately 30 minutes each week.

The costs associated with any of the placements are either for Field Days if additional minibuses have to be hired, or for Sixth Form volunteering, the payment of minibus drivers. For each year this is a cost of £200-£300 (across all placements not just for ecological sites).

Impact

In 2018-19, a total of 507 placements were undertaken as part of the three Field Days. 195 of these placements were in the organisations listed above.

In 2018-19, a total of 109 placements were undertaken as part of the Sixth Form Diploma. 10 of these were in the organisations listed above.

Based on these numbers, the 2018-19 academic year saw 33% of or placements being fulfilled at the organisations listed above who are all working to improve the green spaces in our local community.

This is one of the most difficult areas of volunteering to measure any impact on, mostly because the main beneficiaries will have no knowledge that the school have played a part in keeping their green spaces clean, clear and tidy. We do, however, receive feedback from the organisations, which is a great demonstration of their perception of the impact. Examples of this are shown later in the document.

Examples of feedback received from the organisations include.

"We really enjoyed having you here, and have already been using a lot of the work you did such as designing a banner. Your insights into younger people and use of social media were invaluable and we’re already making good use of facebook advertising, as well as seeing much better engagement from Instagram too. You are both a credit to the school, and with your skills and being so personable, you will both go far in life."
[Good Food Matters]

“Thanks for the great work completed by the Trinity Boys today. We managed to achieve so much and the guys worked so hard to achieve all the tasks set out. They are a true asset to their school. If you could again pass on our Thanks to the teachers and students that came down it would be greatly appreciated and we look forward to working with them again soon.”
[Frylands]

“Your students were great, lots of good ideas for the workshop and our Ranger said that they did a great job with the conservation work and she said that she would happily have that group back to do conservation work in the future.”
[Kenley Revival]

Pupil Involvement

Volunteering placements are arranged for students as follows:


Autumn and Spring Terms: Years 10 and 11 (age 14-16)
Summer Term: Years 9 and 10 (age 13-15)

Sixth Form volunteering is undertaken by 16-18 year olds.

Frequency

All programmes are repeated annually, with frequency differing between each type of placement as follows.

For Field Days:
One full day at each school each term

Sixth Form volunteering:
Six afternoons in the Autumn Term (Lower Sixth) and six afternoons in the Spring Term (Upper Sixth)