New Environmental Volunteering Project launched

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After a successful launch the WISE (Western Isles Support for the Environment) Volunteering Project will be holding its first open volunteer session on Saturday 14th December, meeting at 1pm at the lower car park of Tong Community Centre. Everyone is very welcome to attend this introductory session.

In spite of adverse weather conditions the launch was still able to go ahead on Thursday 5th December, and the project is now planning a series of one day projects across the Western Isles to introduce itself and how it can work with local communities to improve access to the natural environment.

The idea for WISE came from members of the OHCPP Health and Wellbeing and Natural and Cultural Resources Outcome groups who are working in partnership to find new or better ways to utilise our natural resources to promote the health improvement agenda. The WISE Volunteer Project is funded by the Big Fund through the Young Start Programme and Scottish Natural Heritage and managed by the Volunteer Centre Western Isles.

WISE will develop a new way of getting people involved in their natural environment by developing a range of volunteering roles to suit different ages, abilities and interests. Volunteering can itself be considered a health related activity but the project will also have an indirect impact on the number of people accessing the natural environment for walking.

As well as developing four teams of volunteers who will volunteer on a regular ongoing basis, the project will also work with communities, schools and youth groups to run one off, large group volunteering days. This will allow the project to involve many more people and encourage an interest in both volunteering and caring for our environment with a much wider audience.

WISE recently appointed a part time coordinator to recruit, develop and support four volunteer teams. The volunteer teams will carry out improvement and remedial work in a variety of outdoor environments including footpaths within the four main island groups of the Western Isles, Lewis, Harris, Uist and Barra.

Project Coordinator, Tom Bunting, explained: “Whilst setting the project up I have spoken to a lot of organisations and potential volunteers. The common theme being raised is that many footpaths are poorly signposted, and that a lot of stiles are in poor repair, or unusable. Just being able to carry out these simple improvements would mean so many more people could use the footpaths. If you are interested in walking, or hands on environmental work to help improve the quality and condition of our footpaths, we’d love to meet you on the 14th December at Tong Community Centre to discuss how you could help us achieve our aims.”

The Volunteer Centre is always there to support volunteer involving organisations and to help people find suitable volunteering. They can be contacted at

95, Cromwell Street, Stornoway. Tel 01851 700366

E mail: stornoway@volunteeringwesternisles.co.uk, or check out the web site at www.volunteeringwesternisles.co.uk.

There are also offices in Ness (01851 811065), Tarbert (01859 502575) – temporarily closed, Balivanich (01870 602604) and Northbay (01871 890775).