Battling with Himalayan Balsam - one of the challenges of volunteering in Wealden

Media Release : 14 July 2011

Councillor Johanna Howell, Wealden Cabinet Member for Community and the Voluntary Sector, has been following in the footsteps of numerous volunteers by doing battle with invasive species such as Himalayan Balsam and Japanese Knotweed in Crowborough Count

It is just one of the many opportunities for volunteering that can be found in Wealden.

Volunteering can bring a wealth of  benefits for both the community and the volunteer. Many people find volunteering an enjoyable way of improving mental and physical health, meeting people and gaining experience and skills in new areas.

"I find volunteering is a great way of getting together and keeping the community spirit alive," said Councillor Howell. "We tend to spend too long in front  of a computer monitor or TV screen and we run the risk of becoming isolated, forgetting the communities around us."

"There are many wonderful communities in Wealden but if we do not get involved, we could lose them. That is why I think volunteering is so important.  You can give as little or as much of your time as you like, but I always find by giving you will receive something.  For me it's a feeling of well-being."

"There are many different roles for volunteers in Wealden," said  Michelle Eldridge, Grant Funding and Voluntary Sector Support Officer. "They can be as diverse as quiz master, museum guide, lunch club helper, activity volunteer for young people, reading aloud volunteers, basic computer skills trainer, windmill guide, gardener, horse carriage assistant, membership secretary for an ice skating club, website developer, a miller,  a cook or just someone to  keep an eye on the well-being of grazing ponies.

"There is something for everyone, even if your time is limited to a few hours a month."

Crowborough Country Park and other nature reserves need the efforts of volunteers to help manage them - otherwise they can become overrun with invasive species that have no place in the park. A more obtrusive problem is litter.  Councillor Howell and Michelle Eldridge volunteered their spare time one afternoon and managed to fill three large sacks with litter.  They also helped Country Park Ranger Emma Newman with the control of Himalayan Balsam. A new outbreak of Japanese Knotweed was also identified for subsequent control by the Ranger.

The website, Do-it, lists the full range of various interests and activities.  A location-based search engine matches volunteering opportunities to your postcode.

Conservation volunteering opportunities in Crowborough are co-ordinated through the group Crowborough Conservation and more information can be found at .