I had always liked wildlife and nature. When I was young I wanted to be a zoo keeper, but a bit of research as a teenager made me realise I couldn’t really make much of a difference doing this. At that time environmental science was a new subject. I felt it offered a good opportunity to make a difference.
Trustee and co-founder – Bournemouth Parks Foundation. This is a small charity set up to raise funds and deliver projects that improve public parks, nature reserves and spaces. Along with another six trustees we direct a work programme for our foundation manager and her team.
As a charity we are quite reliant on donations, so with less money we could see less income. However, we do a lot of work around improving the town for wildlife and working with people to improve mental/physical health through activities in public spaces, this work is attractive to funders, so we’re thriving in this area at the moment.
Our focus going forward is on health and nature.
Understand your area of specialism (e.g ecology / fundraising) aim to learn continuously. Listen to experts, find out ways of staying up to date, talk to your peers about your subject and share experiences. Be adaptable, you’ll probably need to know a bit about a lot. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, you learn most form them. Be innovative, the world is changing all the time, you need to be able to fit in as it changes.
We’re rapidly becoming cashless. This year we have been prototyping solar powered contactless donation units in public spaces to allow people to contribute to public space and keep up with other charities that work in indoor spaces and find it easier to collect donations.
We’re also doing lots more with web-cams and live streaming – we hope that we can create local monthly ‘Springwatch’ type show for our area to engage people with local wildlife. During lockdown we livestreamed a heron nest cam, picking up around 30,000 views and a few thousand pounds in donations to install more bird cams.
Time and money to work on innovation and change. There is so much to do. We need to be very focussed on a plan- as we can’t do everything we’d like to do. The way funding works you can’t always fund the things that you think will make the biggest difference.
For me the jury is out on this. There’s lots of talk about this, but only time will really tell. I guess that pressure always creates change / innovation, so it would be reasonable to assume that some things will change. There is an opportunity to engage people with local spaces/nature as they’ll have less disposable income now – it’s our job to make sure they love it when they do.