The Volunteering Impacts Conference 2014 marked the release of The Conservation Volunteers’ (TCV) latest report on its ‘Volunteering Impacts’, in the beautiful surroundings of Waterlow Park (London). For me the day captured the true essence of TCV’s work that I have grown to know so well over the years, bringing people together to share the stories of volunteers as well as how their work has impacted people’s lives and has really made a difference to local communities’ green spaces.
The afternoon opened with an address from TCV’s Chair, Rita Clifton CBE, before presenting an inspiring film entitled “What does volunteering mean to me?” created by Independent Filmmaker and volunteer Nelson Costa, featuring TCV volunteers across London. Tulip Siddiq (Camden’s Cabinet Member for Culture and Communities) went on to talk about how the charity’s work has helped transform the local people’s health, prospects and green spaces, followed by Phil Rothwell (TCV’s Policy and Futures Director) who highlighted the important need for and benefits of measuring the impacts of volunteering in the UK.
The Volunteering Impacts report was then launched by TCV panel – Dominic Higgins (National Development Manager), Roberta Antonaci (Green Impacts Project Officer) and Mike King (Principal Consultant & Director of Resources for Change) – sharing the following key findings identified; through the involvement of volunteering groups there is a positive impact on attitudes and behaviours towards the environment, that community resilience can be enhanced by individual participation in group volunteering, and changes in volunteer motivations can be driven by pro-social benefits of meeting new people. Such positive impacts of community resilience were reflected in the case study of The Penge Green Gym and their work throughout the London Borough of Bromley before awarding the achievements made by three outstanding volunteers.
The day was closed with a showcase of the future developments of impact mapping and citizen science that we will do in ExCiteS, starting with myself and how I intend to work with TCV’s volunteers in shaping a public health measurement tool. Muki Haklay finished opening up a new avenue of how we can map the positive impact of volunteering to provide further understanding of the trends in volunteer communities, developed through collaboration and more inclusive participatory approaches as well as realising the wider potential of opportunities within the use of citizen science presenting case studies from just a handful of our research projects, including Mapping for Change, EveryAware and the Citizen Cyberlab
The day was not complete without the hard work of some of TCV’s Green Gym volunteers showing off their many talents of woodwork and stenciling as well as illustrating their real personal achievements, community empowerment and the friendships made whilst improving the natural world around us.
[Photos by Dario Lolli]