Sayer’s Croft Volunteers

Sayer’s Croft Volunteers are going from strength to strength. Our students are loving their time interacting with the young ladies from Tormead Independent School for Girls. This opportunity is offered to all pathways. This volunteering activity will help all the students to achieve their Duke of Edinburgh Volunteering Award and supports units of OCR in all pathways.

All the girls have worked very hard taming the brambles around the site, learning how to use the loppers, protect their hands with gloves and transporting them to the compost heap using wheelbarrows.

During the year they have also taken responsibility for raking up wheelbarrow loads of autumnal leaves and adding them to the compost heap.

Another job has been to replace bark chippings under the high ropes areas and the paths leading to them. To do this they have had to dig into a huge pile of bark chippings and fill the wheelbarrows. When full they wheel them to the high ropes site and tip them up ready to be raked into an even surface. It is a real team effort and all the students can quickly recognise what a difference they have made together.

As a way of saying thank you for all the students’ hard work we organised a celebration or a treat at the end of each term for them to enjoy as a whole team. The last three treats have been a drumming session and a low ropes challenge with Sayer’s Croft staff leading and a Christmas party including gingerbread men decorating and Christmas card creation.

The students recognise that they are doing a useful job improving the grounds at Sayer’s Croft and are proud of their achievements.

Garden House Project

“At the garden House we are developing a sustainable land use project with a focus on wildlife education therapeutic and community benefit.” Andrew and Caroline Hunter owners of “The Garden House.”

Our student volunteers are working very hard on the Garden House Project. This volunteering supports students in all pathways to achieve OCR accreditation units and helps them to attain their Volunteering Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Over the last two terms they have created a woodchip path that weaves in and out of the young woodland which is designed to be able to be used by children in buggies or those in wheelchairs to enable them to wander through the woods. The students have also dug drainage ditches and constructed a bridge to go over them within this woodland. This was hard physical work and took a few visits to complete but was very satisfying for all to see it finished.

Using fallen branches and pruning waste, the students have built an amazing dead hedge. This is intended to encourage wildlife inhabitants and to avoid burning the waste on a bonfire and therefore avoiding adding to the carbon footprint. Jake particularly showed his skills using secateurs to trim down huge Holly branches ready to weave around other branches and within the stakes of the hedge.

The last project was to build a stumpery, which provides a habitat for several types of invertebrates. A stumpery is made from parts of dead trees. This can take the form of a whole stump or small logs. Plants, typically native ferns, mosses and lichens are then encouraged to grow around them. Firstly, the students had to remove the turf which was hard work and this was followed by digging appropriately deep holes ready to sink the stumps into. It took great teamwork to achieve because the logs were so heavy to manipulate into the holes. The soil was stamped in around them to keep them upright. Cardboard was then placed over the soil to reduce the growth of weeds and the students then covered this with bark chippings and leaf mould. The plants were then dug in and now we await its new inhabitants to move in.

These activities give the students a sense of worth, knowing what a difference they have made to the environment in a short space of time. It has also helped students learn how to work as an effective team to get things done efficiently.