In celebration of the Tree Charter’s ‘National Tree Week’, we caught up with Conservation Development Assistant Alex Chadwick to see how you can get involved!
Six month volunteer placement
This is Gareth. He has just finished six months as volunteer in our woodland. He learned a lot about social forestry, green woodworking and woodland management. We have a position available for a new volunteer, starting in October. We would love you to join us to help manage our woodland through the winter season.
‘volunteering in the woodland department was an incredibly rewarding experience… Hard physical work, but in beautiful surroundings, learning practical skills and developing creatively alongside knowledgeable and supportive folk’
We are also looking for volunteers in the media department and the gardens
Click here to find out more about our volunteer opportunities. Placement dates are flexible but ideally starting in October.
CAT is currently recruiting for some lovely long-term volunteers to join us here in mid-Wales. Are you looking to gain experience in woodland management, horticulture or marketing? CAT has five or six-month placements in these areas and we are recruiting in a rolling basis. If you are interested in applying then check out our volunteering website.
Media and Marketing Volunteer
Who better to discuss the role than Richard, a former Media & Marketing / ZCB Communications volunteer:
“I’ve always been interested in environmental issues and actually visited CAT back in the early nineties! I was a little shorter then though. So, having lived in London for almost seven years, I decided to move to mid-Wales and get involved as a long-term volunteer.
It proved to be an unforgettable but somewhat surreal experience…
I volunteered as media and marketing liaison for the Zero Carbon Britain (ZCB) project. My average day, if you can call any day at CAT average, involved working closely with the ZCB researchers, meeting like-minded individuals and leaving for home with my pockets stuffed full of organic vegetables – yum! I certainly wasn’t expecting to be sharing my desk-space with an overly curious robin. It’s not something that tends to happen in an office unless you’re Doctor Doolittle, Santa Claus or Batman.
Volunteering at CAT offered a great chance to be directly involved in promoting sustainable living. I learnt so much that I never expected. This is undoubtedly because of all the different disciplines that CAT is involved with. It’s a holistic hot-pot!
A great benefit for volunteers is getting involved in the short courses that CAT runs. Taking part in the sustainable woodland management course got me hooked on learning as much as I could. So much so that I still help in CAT’s woods when I can, despite working five days a week at CAT’s visitor centre.
Donating my time for the ZCB project also exposed me to so much amazing information about climate change and energy issues. The team isn’t enclosed in a stuffy research faculty but are communicating with the public on a daily basis, be it graduate students or visitors. The team take their research seriously and working in this unique environment lends the project a strong sense of community.
It is this aspect of environmentalism that gets forgotten all too often in research: community. The change towards renewable energy can benefit local communities and if the shift can also create jobs then the transition will be a lot smoother.
When you sit down – or should that be stand up – and look at the technology that already exists, it suddenly becomes clear that a completely renewable infrastructure is not just possible, but a necessity.
CAT has a unique role to play. Why not get involved yourself? I promise the robins aren’t that bad!”
Visit the volunteering website for more information about this placement.
CAT is currently recruiting for some lovely long-term volunteers to join us here in mid-Wales. Are you looking to gain experience in woodland management, horticulture or marketing? CAT has five or six-month placements in these areas and we are recruiting in a rolling basis. We’re taking a closer look at the different roles over the next few days. If you are interested in applying then check out our volunteering website.
Yesterday we looked at the Water and Natural Resources Volunteers. Today:
Why volunteer in CAT’s gardens? Well first and foremost, because they’re one of the most important aspects of CAT. According to Roger, CAT’s main gardener, it’s the best place to be for a volunteer! By coming just before the harvesting season the new volunteer will be in time to reap the benefits of the spring and summer plantings.
Former gardens volunteer Drew had this to say about his time at CAT:
I came to CAT with very little knowledge of gardening, but with an enthusiasm to learn as much as possible. Some would say that’s a great attitude to have, but ask Roger, our Head Gardener, after a whole day of being barraged by questions from his wide-eyed, hungry for knowledge volunteers on all things horticultural and you may get a different response. He is a dedicated and passionate gardener and has been a joy to learn all things green fingered from.
As a long term volunteer you get the opportunity to immerse yourself in a way of living that is quite alien to many. The feeling of community within the surroundings of CAT and the local areas we find ourselves living in is a joy to be a part of. From sowing seeds to swing dancing, weeding in wellies to learning Welsh, pruning grapevines to preparing pot-luck dinners, it has been an incredible journey that has left me wanting more of the same. So much so that I have actually decided to lay some roots (excuse the terrible gardening pun) in Machynlleth and find work locally so that I can keep helping and learning from Roger on my days off. I also hope to get involved in a local Community Garden Project, something I would never have thought about before coming to CAT.
Visit the volunteering website for more information about this placement.
CAT is currently recruiting for some lovely long-term volunteers to join us here in mid-Wales. Are you looking to gain experience in woodland management, horticulture or marketing? CAT has five or six-month placements in these areas and we are recruiting in a rolling basis. Over the next three days we’re going to take a closer look at the different roles. If you are interested in applying then check out our volunteering website.
Water and Natural Resources Volunteers
We’re looking for two people to work in CAT’s Water and Natural Resources department. This is a brilliant opportunity to learn about traditional coppice skills, correct tool use and care, sustainable woodland management, biodiversity survey work, land and estate management, wetlands and eco-sanitation. CAT’s woodland website has loads of further information about each of these areas.
The people we’re looking for may not necessarily have experience in this area, but they will:
- have a genuine interest in woodland and natural resources
- have practical skills
- be happy to get a bit grubby
- be flexible with an enthusiastic and positive disposition
- be keen to learn
- willing to complete physical work outside in all weathers
Iñigo, a previous volunteer had this to say about his experience: “I like being involved in the woodland and working outside, being in contact with nature through the work that we are doing and trying to preserve biodiversity. I think it’s a great experience to have and to take some skills and to develop a different view of what you can do with them, and to improve sustainability and to be a change maker in some way.”
Visit the volunteering website for more information about this placement.
Eleanor Morgan, CAT’s longest-serving volunteer, has been been awarded a Highly Commended Award at this year’s Wales Volunteer of the Year Awards.
Eleanor lives in Machynlleth and has been volunteering at CAT for over 14 years. She used to work in the Education Department in the mornings and she now works one afternoon a week in the Fundraising and Membership Department.
When Eleanor found out about her nomination she was thrilled: “I was gobsmacked, I was surprised and really happy”. Sally Carr, who works in Fundraising at CAT said that nominating Eleanor was an obvious choice: “when I was thinking who I felt deserved to be recognised for all that they had contributed, the first person who came to mind was Eleanor. She is kind, friendly and always eager to help”
Last week a small ceremony was held up at CAT. Eleanor was presented with her certificate and there was tea and cake afterwards.
Volunteers are hugely important to CAT and Eleanor’s dedication to the organisation is wonderful to see. As well as providing a fantastic inspiration for everybody with her willingness to get stuck in, she is also a tremendous role model for others with Down’s Syndrome. She takes pride in what she does and likes to let others know what she has been able to achieve.
Since receiving the award Eleanor has been working with even more enthusiasm: “I just love it. I like working with the people in the office, it’s brilliant”.
Volunteers play a vital part at CAT, helping in a variety of departments and gaining useful skills. As CAT is currently recruiting for the next round of Long Term Volunteers (LTVs), we interviewed some of our current volunteers to find out what they have most enjoyed about their time at CAT.
More information about the current volunteering vacancies can be found here. We’re recruiting on a rolling basis.
Fabienne – Water and Natural Resources
I’m learning lots of things every single day about woodland management and biodiversity and about other people’s skills. It’s a once in a lifetime experience!
Burhan – Natural Building Materials
It’s a great working environment, I think I couldn’t find better and the people are very sociable.
Roisín- Water and Natural Resources
You meet people from lots of different places, different backgrounds, with different skill sets who come together to work on something jointly. Some of those people might have lots of experience and lots of skills and others might have none, but they come together to learn new things and all work towards the same common goal.
Iñigo- Water and Natural Resources
I like being involved in the woodland and working outside, being in contact with nature through the work that we are doing and trying to preserve biodiversity. I think it’s a great experience to have and to take some skills and to develop a different view of what you can do with them, and to improve sustainability and to be a change maker in some way.
Drew – Gardens
I love the fact that you can come here with very little knowledge of a certain type of work, gardening, for instance, and you get so much knowledge out of it fulfilment, and you feel like you can go on and do something else now, take it further. And it’s a really friendly atmosphere, full of a lot of very supportive people.
Rachel – Natural Building Materials
I’ve gained some really interesting knowledge of building physics and learnt quite a lot about climate change and architecture. I’ve been part of a really interesting community of volunteers who are all really lovely and who all bring something different.
Riccardo – Site Maintenance
There are all these interesting people who pop out of the woodwork and come to do courses. They’re always really keen to talk to you and to share their knowledge and that’s great.
Richard (not pictured) – Media and Marketing
I chose to volunteer at CAT so that I could learn new skills whilst promoting a cause I felt strongly about in a collaborative, holistic environment. It’s been an unforgettable experience that I will take it with me for the rest of my life!
Steve (not pictured) – Gardens
For me, it’s about learning relevant skills that are going to be useful in the future, It’s a nice place to work and everyone’s friendly.
Despite the unusually cold weather for this time of year, the garden volunteers here at CAT have been busy hoeing our plots and planting bulbs for our organic produce. We’re planting potatoes, parsnips, beetroot and onions. Hello spring!
CAT runs plenty of short courses offering practical experience of sustainable skills.
With short-term volunteers coming to CAT for a week this May, new long-term volunteer Riccardo shares his thoughts on path-making and idealism after his first week at CAT.
Having finished moving slate gravel around site to restore the Visitor Centre paths (possibly bad for the soul, but probably beneficial for my physique), as it was teatime, two interesting things happened. Firstly, I discovered it was half an hour till tea was due; secondly, Megan and Freya somehow persuaded me to write a blog on my first experiences at CAT, so, for the first time in 6 years, my English degree comes in handy!
It was probably inevitable that I would come here sooner or later, ever since I read about the Whole House in a 1975 book by Brenda and Robert Vale. But the distance from Colchester always prevented me, and there were always too many things to do. However, finally I found myself in a position where I felt no pressing need to take any houses apart to make them more energy efficient, had no work or personal commitments, and it was the middle of winter. Why go to Machynlleth (however that was pronounced) for just a day when I could volunteer and spend a few months?
Three work days into my stay here and I am still making acquaintances, all of whom have been both friendly and keen to allow me to get to know them and the area. There is much enthusiasm and energy to get things done in spite of various lurgies that are being passed around this winter.
The garden work I have been doing at CAT (though I was technically assigned to site maintenance) has been fantastic. It has been a real pleasure to work with Roger, the Head Gardener, and his mix of Eastern philosophy, common sense, and pure twaddle. And, as someone who roughly knew the basics of gardening to begin with, to meet someone who not only has a wealth of experience in gardening, but is also glad to teach others is a clear bonus. There is, after all, only so much that can be learned from a book, and I am starting to see some of the mistakes I have been making with my seedlings at home.
In spite having to cycle in 13 miles to get to work, I have had a great time so far. While I never get out of bed eagerly, especially in winter, the day in CAT is worth the journey, even today (though I maintain my long-seated objection to gravel).
Do you fancy spending a week at our beautiful site, and being part of a team doing practical work to help CAT prepare for the main summer season?
We’re holding a short-term volunteer week from 27-31 May, and we’d like to invite you to take part. The exact range of tasks on offer will depend on a number of factors, including the weather, but is likely to include work in the gardens, with our buildings and maintenance team, and with our water and natural resources team.
It’s a great chance to enjoy staying on-site at CAT at a lovely time of the year, to get “behind the scenes”, interact with staff and other volunteers, and maybe learn a few new skills. If you fancy taking part, please contact Sally Carr (firstname.lastname@example.org, 01654 704976).
We have different accommodation options available depending on your budget and preferences:
En-suite rooms in our beautiful new facility, the Wales Institute for Sustainable Education (WISE), fully catered – £200 per person
Rooms with shared bathroom facilities (not WISE), fully catered – £150 per person
Self-catering accommodation (with lunches provided) – £70 per person