Have you as a group leader taken a task thinking that it would be a simple job of getting the tools and volunteers on sight only to discover that some of your volunteers do not have basic skills,like using a hammer or Take on a task and realise that every one with the necessary skill set to complete a task has retired from the group. If like me you have then the word “Training” will come up. Its amazing how much we assume volunteers can do, somebody must know how to sharpen the tools,maintain the lawnmower or work the strimmer after all these are things our parents and grand parents did without thinking, in our chuck away culture these skills do not get passed down to us any more. Scarborough Conservation Volunteers manage and help maintain ,woodland, meadow, wetland,dry stone walls, hedges ,pathways,monuments and boundaries. The skill sets for these tasks are sometimes complicated difficult and in the case of power tools such as chainsaws,pole saws,brush cutters and ride on vehicles dangerous .Some training can be done in house but some MUST by law be undertaken by qualified persons.
The ConVols are proud of the number of volunteers that have left the group to find employment but this can result in big holes appearing in the groups skill set but rather than looking at the issue of skill loss as a problem we decided to embrace it. If we send five volunteers to train in a particular task and one person retires and two get employment we judge this as a successes not a training/group failure. We know its likely to happen so we plan for it.
Training is a double edged sword unfortunately its not often possible to identify a problem and simply pick the phone up and low and behold an expert volunteer appears,it would be fantastic if it worked that way but usually it does not. You may have identified ,costed and had your training, purchased the tools and your ready to start work ,then you discover all the bright shiny tools that the group raised money for could not cut butter, so you back track a little ,look up the skill on YOU-TUBE buy some sharpening tools and set to sharpening and using these expensive bits of kit. In my experience what usually happens is after hours of hard work sharpening, the bill hooks and axes are still still as useless as they were when they were delivered and bloody dangerous to work with. after a few years at this I have realised that sitting down with your fellow volunteers and planning saves a huge amount of wasted time and effort, we all forget things and get things wrong but its allowed after all we are not at work with a jerk breathing down our necks.
Over the last few years our members have undertaken a variety of training initiatives, both in house and further afield, some were more successful than others but non of it wasted. In the last two month seven of our members undertook training in Hedge laying training in the Yorkshire Dales with a training company called Lowe Maintenance ,some had a little knowledge of the subject most had none but our Trainer Mr Dave Padley took us through the training making sure we understood what we were doing and why we were doing it until in the end we were able to carry out basic hedge laying techniques Out in a field in the middle of December having a fantastic time.
lets not forget lots of these old skills are dying out,particularly on the eastern side of the county where arable farming is more common and walls /hedges are removed for large agricultural equipment to be used. If we do not want to see in our country side, open fields with mono crops, we need to re-establish and pass on the old county skills,to give our wild life a chance of surviving ,to bring back the habitats that allow birds,insects and small mammals to thrive and to bring back the visual diversity of our recent past and the fantastic thing is its fun
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I have decided to take the last post down. I dont retract anything its just that I was contacted by RWCE sec.on behalf of Robert Sword . Any contact from or behalf of Capt.Bob leaves me feeling as if i have ants crawling under my skin and i would not trust the “man” as far as i could spit an anvil so to avoid unnecessary stress I decided to delete the post
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