Want to meet new friends, learn new skills, keep active and help someone else? Course you do.
And where better to do this than the beautiful New Forest where you can volunteer for a range of intriguing activities with a host of organisations in the National Park boundary.
You could help create the first ‘mammal atlas’ of the south east, by recording wildlife sightings. If maps are your thing, the New Forest National Park authority is looking to train volunteers in the art of laser-mapping at archaeological sites from the Bronze Age to World War II.
Interpretation Officer Jim Mitchell says: “Our laser mapping project has been a real hit, with volunteers using iPads to check out anomalies from the mapping on the ground and discover previously unknown archaeological sites.”
Michael Osborne volunteered on this project and says: “It enabled me to visit new areas of the New Forest and carry out surveys into its fascinating history. There has been a real sense of teamwork and not only have we helped record and protect this valuable heritage, but there have been a lot of laughs and fun on the way.”
There are further opportunities with Hampshire Scouts, who are looking for more people to help them run adventurous activities for young people and if diving is your thing you can sign up to assist in the marine wildlife survey being undertaken by Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust.
The National Motor Museum at Beaulieu is looking for people to help clean and catalogue historic motor objects.
Julian Johnson, chairman of the New Forest National Park Authority, says: “Volunteering is an excellent way to meet new people, learn new skills, keep active and make a real difference to the Forest.
“Anyone with an interest in the wildlife, landscape and heritage of the National Park is sure to find plenty of interesting and exciting opportunities.”
Volunteers contributed an estimable 6,250 hours to National Park Authority projects last financial year.
One of their main volunteer-heavy projects has been New Forest Remembers, a website peppered with all the amazing finds, recordings and uncovered secrets of the Forest at War.
“Volunteering is great for getting out in the fresh air and exploring parts of the New Forest you never knew existed, while helping to protect this beautiful part of the country,” says Jim Mitchell.
“You even have the chance to learn new skills while enjoying the company of others – plenty of our volunteers have gone on to become friends with each other.
“If you’re looking for a fresh challenge, or just an excuse to get out and explore the National Park in all its glory, then get involved and volunteer in the Forest this year.”
Other organisations which are looking for helpers include the Forestry Commission, the National Trust, Friends of New Forest Airfields, the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Ringwood and Fordingbridge Footpath Society, New Forest Healthy Walks, the New Forest Centre and Hampshire Conservation Volunteers.
For more information contact newforestnpa.gov.uk/downloads/file/747/volunteer_fair_2014_guide