We’re joining in with the Volunteers’ Week celebrations, run by NCVO, to say a massive thank you for the fantastic contributions our volunteers make to our open spaces across the area.

We asked our volunteers what inspires them to volunteer and what in particular they find the most rewarding. Have a read through some of their testimonials:

Ray, Oakdale Library Garden Association

How long have you been volunteering for?

I have been volunteering with Oakdale Library Garden Project since April 2013. A chance visit to Oakdale Library one cold morning in February 2013 began my volunteering journey. At that time another volunteer led the sessions on behalf of the WI and in 2016 we became a separate volunteer project recruiting volunteers from Culture Volunteers and other volunteer organisations such as Poole Enviroteers.

What does a typical volunteering session look like for you?

Our Monday session officially runs from 9 am, but traffic permitting I like to get there earlier to open up, have a check around all the gardens, and as volunteer lead decide on the tasks for the morning. Tasks may include weeding, planting, pruning, moving compost, and cutting the lawn. Another volunteer lead joins, and we usually have a two or three others come by to help. By 10:30 am it’s time to put the kettle on and relax with a cup of tea and a biscuit. We then do another hour or so of tasks. Times are flexible so if someone has to go at 11 or cant get there until 10 then that’s fine. All are welcome and there are tasks for varying abilities. All we ask is that you can be self sufficient.

What do you find is the most rewarding aspect of volunteering?

Volunteering at the gardens has been very rewarding for me , not only do I get to volunteer with lovely like minded people but to see others enjoy the gardens and give lovely feedback on what we have done is very rewarding. Volunteering keeps the brain and body active throughout the year. To win awards for personal achievement for volunteering at the garden as an individual and as a group and to be recognised by Dorset Wildlife Trust and the RHS award schemes has been a bonus!

What would you say to people who are undecided as to whether or not they should volunteer?

With volunteering you can give as much as you can or would like to, it’s good for your physical and mental well being, it can fill a gap, it stops you getting bored, it can be a stepping stone into other work, it can enhance your cv, and it can enhance your knowledge and skills. You may not be getting paid for it but the reward for volunteering is far more than money.

Roger, Pinecliff Sunken Garden

How long have you been volunteering for?

12 years off and on. From 2008 -2014 I was part of the team led by Clare Sutton in Weymouth that totally turned around the Chapelhay Gardens. From 2017 I’ve led the team that looks after The Pinecliff Sunken Garden where we have transformed a beautiful but rather neglected spot, changing into a glorious cliff top communal space visited and appreciated by many.

What does a typical volunteering session look like for you?

I usually arrive around 9:30 am to 10 am on a Thursday morning. I first load up our wheelbarrow with some tools, chat with Brian who looks after the Library Garden and then walk along to the Sunken Garden. By the time I get to the garden Graham will be sweeping the steps, John and Ian will be in the sunken beds, Hilary will be on the rockery and Alan will have a bench upside down treating it with teak oil. That’s to name some of the team. Our numbers ebb and flow depending on other their other commitments. In total there are ten of us.

What do you find is the most rewarding aspect of volunteering?

Obvious as it sounds but simply volunteering. After years in business or working in other fields people love to do stuff for the love of it without pressure. Also, it keeps us fit; we make new friends and have the joy of spending time in a fabulous location meeting lots of people every week. And without wanting to sound sanctimonious, we are all aware of the budgetary constraints council officers and staff are facing whilst being required to deliver services which we all value. So, in our way, we think and hope that we are helping.

What would you say to people who are undecided as to whether or not they should volunteer?

Give it a try, what have you got to lose. If you are retired it keeps you connected with the wider world. If you are at university it will give you some extra dimensions before going into the world of work. And if you are at work, your time is tight but to get out and do stuff for your own enjoyment with others is a great way to relax and destress.

Muriel, Adastral Square Gardening Group

How long have you been volunteering for?

Our group has been active and gardening in Adastral Square for five years.

What does a typical volunteering session look like for you?

We work to maintain the planted areas, with our sessions lasting for about two and a half hours every week.

What do you find is the most rewarding aspect of volunteering?

The compliments we receive from the public is mind blowing, and acts to really encourage our spirits knowing our work is appreciated.

What would you say to people who are undecided as to whether or not they should volunteer?

Unless you have a go you will never find out how fulfilling it is! Just give it a try, and you’ll most likely see why we all keep coming back.