Environmental Volunteering Project needs Community help

The WISE (Western Isles Support for the Environment) Volunteering Project was successfully launched at the end of the last year.

A project whose focus is on improving and maintaining access to local footpaths, it wants to make sure that people of all ages and abilities can access their local environment and so they’re starting by giving some of the local footpaths a little bit of tender loving care.

Following its launch in 2013, WISE now has a regular group of volunteers helping to restore a local footpath in Tong, Isle of Lewis, which has involved filling in pot holes, painting the bridge and getting rid of weeds which are threatening to take over the path. However, this is only the beginning and they want to do more.

WISE has an exciting year ahead of events and competitions and are now ready to take on volunteers from throughout the Western Isles to help with the maintenance of footpaths in their local area.

Every path starts with a survey and this is probably one of the easiest ways in which people can volunteer and make a difference.

The surveys are simple and ask people to comment on sign posting, drainage, stiles and the general condition under foot.

They are family friendly and can be a good way to get out with children; encouraging them to talk about and experience their local environment. If you’re a regular walker or would like an excuse to get out and about, get in touch with WISE and they’ll see what’s going on in your area.

After the survey comes the maintenance and repair. The aim is to have regular volunteers meeting once a month to carry out the work but there is no formal commitment so after they have signed up, the WISE group will get in touch and let people know what is happening and where, so if they’re free, they can come along and join in.

No previous experience or training is necessary, just an appreciation for the outdoors and the desire to get stuck in.

The Project Coordinator Angela Murphy says: “We want members of the community to join in with the WISE project.

“We’re not asking people to make a massive commitment or give up a lot of their time. We’re just offering a fun way for people to get together and improve access to some of the most stunning areas in the country.

“The project is a perfect volunteering opportunity for dog walkers, bird watchers, young people, families or people who just want an excuse to get out and improve their physical and mental health.”

To get involved just get in touch with WISE or check out their Facebook page. www.facebook.com/WISEvolunteering

WISE has developed a new way of getting people involved in their natural environment by providing a range of volunteering roles to suit different ages, abilities and interests. Volunteering can itself be considered a health related activity but this project is aiming to have a positive impact on the number of people accessing the natural environment.

As well as regular volunteers, the project will also work with communities, schools and youth groups to run one off, group volunteering days.

If you think your community group would like to be a part of one of these days, please contact at wise@volunteeringwesternisles.co.uk

There is a detailed list of paths that need to be looked at but WISE is a project working with the community so they are asking the community to let them know of any local footpaths, large or small, that they think should come top of their list.

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. For more information on the project and volunteering contact Angela on 01870 602604 or email wise@volunteeringwesternisles.co.uk .