Richard Armstrong: Small actions make a big impact when you micro volunteer on your local community path network

I am delighted to be writing this blog to help give you a few practical ideas of things you can do during our Walking with Nature: micro-volunteering week.

Walking with Nature: Micro-volunteering branch pruning

Before I worked with Paths for All I spent about 9 years working as a Countryside Ranger. Part of my role involved carrying out site inspections on promoted path networks and a range of other sites.

During my inspections, I always had my backpack containing a few small tools that I would use to resolve any small issues I found.

My backpack contained:

  • Multipurpose bio-degradable wipes - used for cleaning up interpretation panels and signs to make sure people could read them

  • A pair of pruners and folding saw – to remove rogue branches obstructing a path

  • Bin bags – for collecting odd pieces of litter I would find

  • Three in one or WD40 oil – for lubricating the latches on gates to ensure they were easy to open and close

  • Work gloves – used to carry out the jobs mentioned above

  • Camera – to photograph larger problems and pass them onto the relevant persons to be fixed.

On many of the paths that I use every day, there is not a paid member of staff to go along collecting litter and pruning.  So, I often still carry out these same small jobs. I do not always carry my trusted backpack with a collection of tools but if I see something that I think I can sort out the next time I am passing, then I’ll bring what I need another time and sort it out.

Just last week I was out in the morning and saw that there were some drinks cans and litter lying near a bench. I did not have a bag or gloves with me at the time, but I went back there in the evening when I was walking my dog with a bag and removed them. 

There is a small branch encroaching across one of my regular running routes. People are currently walking around it damaging the wildflowers beside the path. This week at some point I hope to go along with my trusted pruners to move it out of the way and save some of the wood anemones before it is too late.

I think these are good examples of micro-volunteering tasks. They are very quick to do, are low impact and require minimal equipment.

I do find it quite satisfying doing these things as I feel I have done something kind and made the places I like to walk better for other people as well as myself. 

I would not advise removing pieces of broken glass in case you cut yourself when transporting it to the nearest bin and I’m always careful when it comes to pruning that I’m not disturbing nesting birds and not doing it in a place where people are likely to get upset.

Go on, give micro volunteering a try - it's a small way to help your local path network and boost your own wellbeing by spending time in nature.

Find out more about micro-volunteering on our website.