My journey so far as a Sustrans volunteer

By Guest Blogger,
Susan and a fellow volunteer after cutting back encroaching vegetation

Susan makes a real difference to her community in Aryshire

Group of Sustrans volunteers removing overgrown vegetation on the National Cycle Network in Scotland

Susan, pictured on the far left, and her fellow volunteers during a task day along the National Cycle Network in Lochwinnoch

Susan is one of our fantastic volunteers in Aryshire. As well as helping to look after the National Cycle Network, she also supports children to ride a bike and inspires local people to walk and cycle. She tells us what volunteering with Sustrans means to her.

"Sustrans, what do they do? Hey, look at the brilliant website they have… and they are looking for volunteers right now!" 

That was me only two years ago, and completing that online application started a fascinating journey which I would recommend to all – especially us busy women!

Up until then I was an occasional walker, cyclist and a gym-hater. I was constantly threatening to get fit but was always too busy with life to do anything and stick at it! I was at that stage in life when I wanted to give something back and working in a charity shop just wasn’t my bag.

Within days of contacting Sustrans I was meeting one of the Sustrans volunteer co-ordinators in Scotland to discover what was happening in my area of Ayrshire.

At last, I had found a flexible volunteering role which fitted around my busy life. 

Why I volunteer for Sustrans

The best parts of the role include being out and about, keeping active and contributing to my local community as well as meeting really interesting and knowledgeable people from all walks of life.

Sustrans has trained me in many skills such as:

  • walk Leader
  • ride Leader
  • risk assessment and child protection.

And I still have so many more training courses to do!

The local council and Sustrans are really trying to change the behavior of our community – I’d urge everyone to discover more about their work.  Their volunteering opportunities are unlimited.

What I do as a volunteer

I’ve painted mileposts, cleared pathways, cycled from Glasgow to Edinburgh on electric bikes, and set up exhibition stands at colleges, in town centres and at local country fairs.

I’ve spoken to literally hundreds of people encouraging them to think about their mode of transport and their environment. Listening and understanding, and offering solutions and suggestions to suit their individual needs.

In Ayrshire we are so lucky to have two Active Travel Hubs which I have been involved with since the start. 

I am a walk leader and back marker for two walking groups with people who have just discovered walking through ill-health. They too are reaping the benefits of fresh air, great company, beautiful parklands and gentle exercise.

No two walks are ever the same and that’s not just about the weather!

Thinking about volunteering?

I have learned so much about a lifestyle I thought was for other people. I didn’t think I could make a difference to our society or the environment but I have.

I try to put into practice a healthier lifestyle and I rarely use my car now, choosing instead to walk, cycle and catch the bus or train - enjoying the views as I travel. 

My favourite thing about volunteering with Sustrans

The best bit of my two years? Meeting the most committed, kind and interesting people. It’s all very humbling.

I joined to make a difference in my community and my community has made a difference to me.

Read more about our volunteers and how they are helping to create happier, healthier communities and a better environment for us all.

Want to join our 4,000 volunteers and help make a difference in your community? Check out our current volunteer vacancies.