The next generation steps up

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By Jo Goddard

After many years living abroad, Jo Goddard got involved in CPRE Derbyshire on her return. She explains how she’s following a path previously trodden by her mother in order to make a difference to her local countryside.

I’ve been the Group Secretary for a year. My role involves dealing with correspondence, membership, paperwork for meetings, managing the members’ database and our volunteering system – oh, and the annual report! I also manage and create content for the group’s website and Facebook page.

Returning to Derbyshire after many years living overseas in Sydney, I was struck by the pace of development and how much of it seemed inappropriate to its setting.  My mum had been a long-time CPRE supporter and former proud East Midlands regional group Chair, so I decided to take up the gauntlet!

Learning new skills

The support and training offered by national CPRE across a whole range of topics has been amazing. I was quite a novice in terms of the whole process around planning applications, but have managed to quickly come up to speed with the basics.

Developing and launching the new website, which I did pretty much single-handedly with support from the CPRE web team, was a real highlight. It was very rewarding to turn this important project around so quickly and I learned a lot in the process.

I love writing, so building stories with the team about our activities and successes has been great and it’s been especially rewarding to watch our online engagement grow as a result.

'For anyone considering volunteering, CPRE offers a very supported experience and every little helps.'

Building new communities

Since launching the Facebook page less than 6 months ago, we’ve gained 50 followers through steady organic growth. It may not be a lot, but these people are genuinely interested in our mission and that means more love for the countryside, and more awareness of the threats it faces and what we can do about it as citizens. It’s baby steps, but meaningful nevertheless.

Whilst I’ve received a lot of encouragement from our local committee and trustees, most of them don’t have much time to devote to hands-on volunteering, so it took a little extra effort to get help with the website content initially. It’s easier now everything is in place and I can show the value of building our profile in practice.

A boost to wellbeing

Coming to the UK as the pandemic began meant there was little chance of getting employment in the immediate term. I was keen to take up a voluntary role to help keep me occupied, but could never have anticipated how much I’ve valued it for my wellbeing during our long year of lockdown for keeping my mind busy and connecting with the team on Zoom.

For anyone considering volunteering, CPRE offers a very supported experience and every little helps, even if initially just for a trial or time-limited project. Go for it!

Could you spare some time to volunteer for your local CPRE and stand with the countryside that you love? Learn more about the experience of volunteering for CPRE, the countryside charity, or drop us a line: volunteeringteam@cpre.org.uk.

CPRE volunteer Jo Goddard
CPRE volunteer Jo Goddard in Derbyshire Brett Heath