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Environmental Volunteering in the North East of England

The research, carried out on behalf of Natural England, aimed to provide the best currently available baseline information on environmental volunteering in the North East and an analysis of gaps in opportunities within the region. The research involved an online survey of 187 current volunteers, 15 former and 49 non volunteers; one focus group of current volunteers and two focus groups of non volunteers; and a telephone survey of 66 organisations that involved environmental volunteers.

This study revealed a strong and healthy environmental sector in the region. It is home to a large number of highly committed, passionate and active volunteers, many of whom volunteer for multiple organisations. At the same time, it appears that new volunteers are coming on board in what seems to be a healthy turnover. The evidence suggested that on the whole they appear to be managed well and are satisfied with the support and recognition they receive.

The research also demonstrated a number of key challenges. This included problems recruiting volunteers, a lack of resources for volunteer management, and limited diversity within the current volunteer population, especially in terms of ‘diversity audiences’. Furthermore, the research with non volunteers highlighted views that volunteering in the environment was often seen as inaccessible, unattractive or irrelevant. There appeared to be significant problems of marketing and promotion in how environmental volunteering is ‘sold’ to the public. The research also included a series of recommendations to take forwards environmental volunteering within the region.

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