Collage of three photos showing progress of a wooden boardwalk being built.

Regional charity Groundwork Five Counties recently spent two weeks improving parts of the Snibston Grange Nature Reserve in Coalville, Leicestershire.

Bolstered by eleven volunteers, the charity’s environmental team constructed a 40-meter boardwalk around an idle pond and wildlife space, along with a 20-meter stoned footpath. These much-needed changes have enhanced the area’s accessibility, especially for those using mobility aids, families with prams and young children.

Further improvements were made by the team to support local wildlife, along with strategic tree thinning to help the sunlight reach the area more efficiently.

The eleven volunteers who supported the charity in this project had the opportunity able to obtain experience and skills in carpentry, forest management and basics of horticulture, as well as health & safety and first aid.

Charles Nembhard, Trainer – Environment at Groundwork Five Counties says: “Most of the volunteers were not in employment, so they took this opportunity to learn new skills, gain confidence, build meaningful friendships and achieve something wonderful.

“All the volunteers were fantastic and worked very hard together to implement these changes that benefit them and the local community. I’m very proud of the improvements to the Nature Reserve and hope people enjoy the new boardwalk and footpath.”

Now the project is over, Groundwork Five Counties are providing employability support to the volunteers, with the aim of transitioning them into paid work. This is tailored to each person’s interests, skill set and ambitions.

One participant said: “I’ve appreciated the past two weeks of volunteering; after not being very active for the past few years, this experience has truly paved the way for me to re-enter the workforce with renewed enthusiasm.”

The charity regularly hosts volunteering opportunities in green spaces around the East Midlands, ranging from small to large-scale projects. Groundwork Five Counties works across Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, and Rutland.

Charles continues: “Volunteering offers a wealth of benefits, including gaining new skills, valuable experience and a strong support network, along with enhanced physical and mental fitness. If you are looking to find work, we can help with that and get you work-ready. Plus, giving back to the community is a great feeling!

“As an environmental charity, we always need enthusiastic volunteers so if this is something you are interested in, we’d love to hear from you.”

Find out more about volunteering on the Groundwork Five Counties website:

The Snibston project is part of an ongoing partnership between Groundwork Five Counties, Leicester County Council, and The National Forest. Funding was provided by SEGRO, a national property investment and development company that has been working with Groundwork to help economically inactive people into employment.

The charity supports thousands of people every year and makes a real and lasting difference in the communities most in need of support. These projects are making a difference that you can see – helping people into work, creating stronger communities, better neighbourhoods and encouraging healthier, greener lifestyles.