My first TCV encounter was installing a stile with the mid-week team in Gloucestershire during the summer I left school in 2002. When I started university in Norwich I’d already earned my Millennium Volunteers 50 hour certificate with various environmental organisations, so in 2003 TCV gave me the chance to take a more advanced role as an Assistant Leader on one of its Natural Breaks on the Norfolk Broads. I remember feeling really lucky to be given the opportunity to take a leadership role at a relatively young age.
Since then, I’ve done some scrub clearance at Alexandra Palace with the Kings Cross group when I lived in London (circa 2008), and I’ve been on two more Natural Breaks as a regular volunteer – a week bashing rhododendron on Lundy Island in 2011, and another week cleaning Devon’s beaches in 2012.
All of these experiences were a breath of fresh air in going new places, spending all day outdoors and hanging out with a different crowd of very interesting people. I believe it’s really healthy to spend time socialising with people outside of your usual circles, especially when focused on a task together; it gives you a break from the usual patterns of thinking and refreshes your mind. TCV is a wonderful forum for getting out and doing this – even though we no longer run Natural Breaks, regular local volunteering opportunities give people a chance to meet new people, spend time outside and gain satisfaction from a practical job well done when so many of us spend our working lives in the office.
In 2018 I successfully applied to the role of Income Generation Manager for TCV’s England South region. Getting involved behind the scenes in an organisation I’ve known for so long has been great, and I’m enjoying project planning and writing about the work we do – and hope to do – to get more people involved in our work.