You may well find a group of enthusiastic volunteers sharing hot chocolate and marshmallows around the fire, after a productive day!

Jo's experience of the Level 4 Award in Volunteer Management

I originally volunteered in a beautiful woodland in Carbis Bay, before briefly becoming the co-ordinator for a few of the volunteer days there. I count myself lucky to have be offered the opportunity to undertake the volunteer management level 4 award with Volunteer Cornwall, as a result.

Unsure what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself part of a small group with an informal yet very supportive atmosphere. The content of the course initially seemed daunting, yet it was unpacked in manageable chunks; group discussion and peer support being a key aspect which made each day a pleasure to attend. Indeed, I gained so much from the award that I decided to continue with the full certificate.

During the course, I was also completing a Forest school leaders award; eager to connect children with nature and foster an enthusiasm for the woodland environment and its future care. The volunteer management course inspired me to see that this ethos could be translated to a diverse range of people in a variety of forms, including environmental volunteering.

Inspired by the support of peers in the group and Marianne my trainer, I made the decision to set up a social enterprise that actively benefits the woodland and the people that use it, through a rich and diverse programme of educational, social and volunteering opportunities.  It’s fair to say that what followed was endless list writing, sleepless nights and lots of hard work. Yet, a large amount of this course proved helpful, particularly in writing values, aims and our mission, ensuring that as a social enterprise we can actively benefit both our community and the environment not forgetting our valued volunteers.

Heart of The Woods was born this spring and we have already booked two volunteering days with other organisations. We have lots of exciting plans to promote volunteering further this year, including regular family volunteering days and hope to work closely with Volunteer Cornwall in widening other opportunities in the future.

If you are inspired to contribute to positive environmental change, spend time outdoors with others, share new skills and have fun then watch our facebook page for further opportunities; we look forward to sharing hot chocolate around the fire with some of you soon.

Blog written by Jo Cooper, Woodland-based Forest School Leader & Volunteer Co-ordinator at Heart of the Woods