On Thursday 25 July 2019, professional services staff in the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences volunteered to support local Bath charities as part of a team away day.
Staff were grouped into three teams and spent the day supporting the community by maintaining footpaths for the National Trust’s Skyline Walk, acting as shop assistants for Dorothy House and supporting essential maintenance and habitat development at Bath City Farm.
Improving the Bath Skyline Walk
It was the hottest day of the year, but staff found the day a great way to discover the countryside that is on our doorstep, whilst being able to give something back to the community. Staff spent the day working alongside National Trust rangers and other volunteers to make the Skyline walk even more beautiful than it already is.
The morning shift included clearing overgrown footpaths and clearing fields of poisonous weeds (some cleared poisonous weeds, others pulled up dandelions by mistake!). Despite the heat, staff enjoyed the day whilst being able to appreciate the gorgeous views of the city, and definitely enjoyed their biscuit breaks in the shade.
After lunch, staff split in to two groups and spent the afternoon bringing a sad pond back to life, and moving bales of hay to the compost area. Before more well-earned drinks out of the sun.
Speaking about the experience, Helen Lofkin said: 'I really enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with and get to know colleagues in the Faculty a little more. It was a great way to spend time together outside of work, with a shared focus on making a useful contribution through volunteering. I was really interested to learn more from the ranger and volunteers about what goes in to maintaining landscapes and biodiversity.'
Dorothy House Charity Shops
Staff supported two of the charity shops on Abbeygate Street and Moorland Road. After getting to know the stores, staff helped by sorting, steaming, labelling, Gift Aiding, and sometimes recycling the clothing donations.
Income at the 28 retail stores makes a significant financial contribution to the work of Dorothy House hospice care and outreach services and working with the staff gave the team a real insight in to how the shop operates, and how knowledgeable and passionate staff are about their work.
Emily Richards, who spent the day working in the Abbeygate Street branch, said: 'Some of us have seen the positive impact Dorothy House has had on family and friends towards the end of their lives, and we really appreciated the opportunity to contribute to this fantastic charity in a very small way during the Faculty’s volunteering day.'
Speaking about the day, Louise Wood commented: 'Our day at Dorothy House charity shop was rewarding and educational, we thoroughly enjoyed our volunteering experience. Some of us also came away with a few purchases!'
Bath City Farm
Volunteers were eased into the day with a tour of the farm, slightly apprehensive about a day of manual labour in 31 degree heat, but were quickly put at ease by the supportive Bath City Farm staff, and no-one missed the chance to have a cuddle with the playful goats.
Staff then quickly got involved with a number of activities, helping to paint one entire room within the main building, removing a considerable amount of old fencing and helping to build another layer of Goat Mountain (the goats miss their natural habitat so the team helped replicate the rocky mountain for them to climb).
Lisa Snowdon-Harris commented: 'Despite the heat, we all got stuck in and we hope that our small amount of work can help the farm to keep going. We can’t wait to go back later in the summer and see what all the other teams have also achieved!'
Building links with the community
This was the second year that the Faculty has supported the local community through their staff away days, which have previously proved a huge success.
Speaking about the volunteering away day, Ann-Marie Hartland, Director of Administration commented: 'Our annual volunteering away day for the Faculty's professional services team has not only proven to be a great way of team building but a great mechanism for giving back to the community, by helping out charitable causes which mean something to us. In spite of it being one of the hottest days of the year, everyone gave it their all and left feeling a great sense of achievement.'
The support for these charities has been well received, with Bath City Farm commenting: 'Our mission is to build a strong, healthy and caring community by engaging local people with nature and farming. Welcoming teams from local businesses who chose to give back and support their community by volunteering their time makes us feel we are fulfilling our aim. I always look forward to a team building day with volunteers from Bath University as I know we are going to get a lot of work done. The team always arrive energised and eager to get stuck in and I was impressed how hard they worked even in the heat that day. If you want to come back for more, we would love to have you here!'
Bath Skyline were also grateful for the Faculty's support, commenting: 'It was one of the hottest days of the year, so we were all struggling with the heat of the day but the University of Bath staff managed to achieve a huge amount. They raked grass and nettles to clear an overgrown cycle path, and cleared a large hay field of ragwort, which is important to remove as it is toxic to cattle. Clearing the field is an essential tool in helping to maintain it as a wildflower meadow. The group were all really hardworking and enthusiastic and interested in the conservation work we were doing, and they would be very welcome back again next year.'
The National Trust, Dorothy House and Bath City Farm are always looking for volunteers. If you’d like to like to support them then you can find more information online: