As many of you know, I will soon be leaving Environment Wales. Change, as it always seems to do, has made me look back over my time here and think about what I’ve seen, learnt and achieved. I don’t leave until next week but while I have a spare moment, I thought I’d share my feelings with you.
I came to Environment Wales after working as an Education Officer, I had experience of being in a community group and of writing grant applications but I’m not sure I really understood what I was letting myself in for ;-). I started with BTCV as it was named at the time in April 2010. My line manager was Callum and I had a lot to live up to after my predecessor Rosa. I remember my first week well. The weather was beautiful and I headed over to Forest Farm full of expectation. I had an induction with BTCV and then an induction with Clare in the Environment Wales office. At that point, I wondered how I would ever get to grips with all the forms, the procedures and the general advice that I was going to need to share with my list of 50 groups.
Spending time with the team, both the Development Officers and the Co-ordination staff over the next few months really helped. They really showed me the way, gave me advice, shared their endless knowledge and gave me the confidence that I needed to go out and speak to groups. Their role continued over the next 4 years, every single one of them was there when I needed information, expertise, support or encouragement.
When BTCV (now TCV) left their Wales office it looked like I would have to find another job, however the Environment Wales partnership pulled together and luckily I was hosted with Wildlife Trusts Wales temporarily while they recruited another core partner. That core partner has now been found and The Woodland Trust are coming on board. I think they are a wonderful addition to the Environment Wales family, exactly what the initiative is all about. Unfortunately for me, their Machynlleth location meant that I wasn’t in the position to apply and so my Environment Wales journey has come to an end.
So as I look back at my time here, I realise that I have learnt so much, but there is also so much left to learn. Every single group that I have worked with has taught me something new and I hope that each one has learnt something from me. Every group gives so much time and energy to improving the welsh environment that I think it is impossible to not being inspired by every single one. So many hours are given by volunteers, making the places that we live so very special and although times are hard and it would be easy to give up, people don’t, they continue digging, promoting and inspiring – helping people to see the difference and ensuring that they understand how they can help.
I was going to use this blog to highlight some of the great projects that I have worked with, but there are so many. How can I chose the best when that means making a comparison? The most wonderful thing about EW is its wide ranging support, helping community allotments, through to reuse centres, to woodland projects, to protected species projects, to education projects and everything in between, covering all areas of the country. While I may have a favourite project one day, I can guarantee it will change within 24 hours.
Environment Wales has been the perfect opportunity for me to get a full understanding of the scope of voluntary projects that we have across Wales. I have met the most amazing people that I think I will ever meet and I hope to see many of you again. The joys of working in the sector, is that you can never stray far.
I look forward to hearing about your developments and bumping into you again soon.
Julie Furber, Development Officer