News, stories and reports from Forestry Commission Scotland and the National Forest Estate

Volunteer Community Champions launches second year of programme

Volunteer Community Champions has launched its second year of the 10 month programme. The woodland programme is designed to train up to 12 community volunteer champions to engage with community groups in Central Scotland, helping to break down barriers to access in local woodlands.

volunteer community champion event

The programme provides specialist training for volunteers along with a £1,000 budget to deliver four sessions for communities from socially diverse backgrounds through outdoor recreation, learning, health and wellbeing.

We recently celebrated the success of the first year of the programme, piloted in 2015-16. The programme was launched in partnership with Cemvo Scotland which saw 11 Volunteer Community Champions successfully complete their training and deliver 37 sessions engaging with 734 people from all six diversity strands of Protected Characteristics - race; age; disability; sexual orientation; gender; religion and belief.

Volunteer community champions

Sadia Ismail, Forestry Volunteer Development Office for Forestry Commission Scotland, said: “We are really proud of what the Volunteer Community Champions have achieved and they have engaged with their groups on a deeper level than we could hope to externally, and this is what the programme is really about.  Some of them have really discovered a new found passion for the outdoors and see the benefits of using woodlands.

volunteer community champions

“This year we have received a lot of applications and we will be selecting the final 12 Volunteer Community Champions this week.  We have already held an induction day at the start of June which gave applicants the chance to find out more about the training programme and a taster of woodland activities.  The participants thoroughly enjoyed the day and found it fun and informative.  The applicants left in quite high spirits and excited about what the training might bring for them.”

Specialist training is provided which includes Outdoor First Aid, Environmental Awareness, Bushcraft Skills and John Muir Leader training.  Volunteer Community Champions will also receive additional support to help them work through the funding application process, which seems to be a barrier to diverse groups accessing FCS funding.

This year will see the addition of a conservation day of training provided in partnership with Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.