AN award-winning scheme that encourages local volunteers to get involved in improving the city’s parks and open spaces is back up and running after a year-long pause.
Leicester City Council’s popular Leicester Environmental Volunteers scheme offers people the chance take part in conservation, habitat and environmental improvement projects on the city’s parks, riverside and green spaces.
The scheme was temporarily suspended over the last year due to coronavirus safety restrictions, but with groups of up to 30 people now allowed to meet outdoors activities are being relaunched this week.
Among the events lined up for the first week are litter clearance sessions on the River Soar from small bell boats or narrowboat. For green-fingered volunteers, there are gardening sessions in the Garden of Senses at Abbey Park and for those who enjoy wildlife spotting, there will be a chance to take part in a nature survey near the National Space Centre.
Nicola Holt, environmental engagement manager at Leicester City Council, said: “We absolutely thrilled to be able to relaunch our Leicester Environmental Volunteers scheme. It’s a great way for people to make a positive difference to their local area, and enjoy the benefits of the wide-open spaces, fresh air and physical exercise.
“Obviously, the last year has been a challenge for everyone and we couldn’t safely continue to offer group volunteering opportunities during the pandemic. However, we were absolutely bowled over that so many of regular volunteers continued that valuable work by litter-picking on their parks, on their own or with close family. It made such a huge difference and we are tremendously grateful.”
In addition to environmental, conservation and gardening opportunities, volunteers can also get involved in construction projects, building small bridges, repairing riverbanks, installing steps and creating new homes for wildlife.
A new litter champion role has also been created for people with limited time on their hands.
In a normal year, the Leicester Environmental Volunteers scheme would see about 65,000 volunteer hours donated to helping improve and maintain the city’s parks, riverside and green spaces.
Deputy City Mayor Cllr Piara Singh Clair, who leads on culture, leisure and sport, said: “This is a fantastic scheme and I am really pleased that we able to welcome groups of volunteers back onto our parks.
“Their dedication makes a real difference to the local environment and helps make Leicester a place we can all take pride in. We owe a huge thank you to everyone who has helped make this scheme such a success.”
All volunteering activities will be carried out in line with the latest rules on social distancing. Tools will be sanitised before and after use and, for the time being, volunteers will be asked to bring their own refreshments until normal service can fully resume.
Activities are supported by trained park staff and environmental rangers and regular outdoor volunteering sessions are available on land and water throughout Leicester, all year round, in all seasons and weathers.
To find out more, or to sign up to become an environmental volunteer, visit www.leicester.gov.uk/parks-volunteers