Our volunteers at the heart of Sustrans

By Katie Aartse-Tuyn,
Volunteers and staff during a training session on the National Cycle Network

Katie (pictured on the right) with fellow Sustrans staff and volunteers during a recent volunteer task day training session along the National Cycle Network in Bristol

It’s volunteers week – and there’s no better time to celebrate and recognise the immense contribution that Sustrans volunteers make and the impact they have on our work across the UK.

This year we also celebrate 40 years of Sustrans and volunteers have been at the heart of our work since the beginning. Sustrans is characterised as a practical, can-do organisation and this is certainly embodied by our volunteers.

Our volunteers

We’re fortunate to have 4,000 registered, committed volunteers who actively connect us to communities across the county.

Research has shown that volunteering can contribute towards improving mental health particularly amongst older groups.

- Katie Aartse-Tuyn, Sustrans Volunteer Programme Manager

Our volunteer programme was officially established in 1998 to recruit volunteer rangers to help maintain each and every mile of the National Cycle Network. To this day, our volunteer rangers are our eyes and ears on the ground, carrying out routine maintenance tasks and ensuring routes are safe and easy to navigate.

What do our volunteers do?

Since then, Sustrans has broadened its scope as we work together with our volunteers to not only connect people and places, but to transform the school run and commute and to create liveable neighbourhoods.

Whether it’s through leading walks and rides, talking to and engaging with people at local events, supporting our staff in offices across the country, or improving wildlife along the Network – our volunteers are involved in all aspects of our work, supporting projects and extending our reach.

The enormity of what our committed volunteers achieve can be seen in the vast number of activities and hours that they record. In 2016-17 alone, 109,250* hours were contributed through 7,160 activities - this equates to a monetary value of £1.4million based on national average wage.

The benefits of volunteering

Volunteering isn’t just about the monetary value though. Research has shown that volunteering can contribute towards improving mental health particularly amongst older groups.

It provides a huge range of benefits including learning new skills and boosting employment prospects, contributing towards being healthy and active, overcoming social isolation, and connecting people to their communities and the environment. And volunteering with Sustrans certainly provides these benefits too.

I have a disability and volunteering with Sustrans has shown me I am capable of doing things I didn’t think possible.

- Sustrans volunteer

What do our volunteers say?

But don’t just take my word for it, here are just a few things volunteers have reported to us about what they got out of their volunteering experience with Sustrans:

“Volunteering brings a smile to my face as I can share my passion for cycling with children and other Sustrans volunteers. It is energising, inspiring and a very rewarding experience.”

“I have benefited both personally and professionally whilst volunteering with Sustrans. I have developed confidence, enjoyed social interaction, contributed to my community and made good friends. I have gained and developed many skills, which directly enabled me to move from an unfulfilling job to a new and exciting career doing fun and fabulous things.”

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. 

 

*Extrapolated from the number hours recorded by 1,291 volunteers from June 2016 to May 2017.

More blog posts by Katie Aartse-Tuyn