Members of DMW are invited to take advantage of DMW’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) days. CSR days provide a great opportunity to explore a variety of volunteering opportunities in a sector of your choice and make a contribution towards sustainable development. As a member of DMW's environmental team, I decided use my own CSR day for an environmental conversation project.
In sharing my experience, I hope that it will encourage my colleagues and all those who have considered taking part in a CSR day to explore the opportunities local to you.
Selecting a CSR opportunity
When I first joined DMW, I was delighted to learn that we have the option to take two CSR days a year for a charity or a cause of our choice. I have been a member of the London Wildlife Trust (LWT) for a number of years, and regularly keep up to date with volunteer opportunities close to my home, so I was particularly excited to use one of my CSR days to volunteer locally. On this occasion, I decided to sign up for a day working at Sydenham woods - a unique mixture of new and ancient woodland at the Trust’s oldest nature reserve.
The conservation task
On arrival to the reserve, I was reassured to find that it was immediately obvious where the meeting point was. I entered the wood and walked down the steps to the old, abandoned railway entrance, which I had previously been informed is home to an endangered species of bat.
Sydenham wood volunteer days offer a variety of activities to participate in, from coppicing and dead hedging to litter-picking and fencing. Our initial task was to help widen a path and demarcate the areas that were suitable to walk on. During the pandemic, Sydenham woods has seen a significant rise in its number of visitors, and maintenance tasks in the area have increased as a result. By expanding the width of the path, it was hoped that visiting walkers would be less inclined to take short cuts and trample areas that will eventually become home to insects, wild flowers, and burgeoning plant life.
Equipped with a borrowed pair of steel-capped wellies, gardening gloves, and a wheelbarrow full of tools, and with the help of new friends, we started to create the path. To provide added grip and prevent the path from becoming a muddy trail, the path required a base covering of smashed bricks, which was then to be topped with a coating of hoggin - a cement-like mixture of clay, gravel, and sand.
Whilst the morning was spent expending pent-up lockdown energy, the afternoon involved the task of transporting heavy loads of hoggin in wheelbarrows across to the path. Offloading the hoggin over the bricks, we proceeded to rake it into place and pat it down, subsequently completing our path.
The final task
Our final task of the day was to create a very basic fence using stakes and warning tape. Due to time constraints, we were unable to create a sturdier structure via the method of dead hedging, where branches and twigs are arranged to form a barrier.
How you can get involved
As a result of current restrictions, taking rewilding and conservation CSR days has come with its difficulties this year, but things are beginning to look up. A number of organisations have started to accept volunteers again in limited numbers, and you can sign up to receive regular updates via their volunteering newsletters. The various Wildlife Trusts around the country are a good place to start, but you can also visit Rewilding Britain to discover more groups and projects in your local area.
In a nutshell
CSR initiatives are a great way to develop new skills and engage in worthwhile pursuits. I thoroughly enjoyed my CSR day and would highly recommend the experience to anyone who is interested in taking part. I met a friendly group of people, spent the day working outside and surrounded by nature, and learned some interesting facts about the local area.
If you are a DMW employee and you would be interested in participating in a CSR day, please get in touch with a member of our CSR team.