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20th December 2018
As soon as the Darlington Cares park auction was announced, DBS was keen to be involved. We are passionate about volunteering our time and as one of our business values is to share time, skills and resources with the local community, we jumped at the chance to do something a bit different for Darlington!
We would have been happy to work on any of the parks, but our experience in North Lodge Park was better than we could ever have anticipated.
When we first surveyed the park, we saw how quickly nature can become unmanageable. Many of the paths were covered with moss and not even visible in places, whilst trees and bushes had become tangled and overgrown.
We decided our main aim would be a simple one – to clean up the park so that visitors would feel welcome and make full use of its lovely green spaces.
We started by getting in touch with the North Lodge Park rangers Warren and Pippa, asking where we could make the best impact and what tools we would need to do the job. Luckily we couldn’t have had better guides – Warren and Pippa provided us with everything we needed as well as invaluable advice, and often a friendly person to chat to whilst working!
We decided to get stuck in and began by edging the paths of the park to help define the walkways. We all started off very enthusiastically, shovelling dirt and scraping moss off the paths until we had a break for a well-needed drink of water. Then we got right back at it with more edging… and more edging… and more edging.
We then realised just how much of a commitment we’d got ourselves into! Thankfully we discovered working outside is an absolute privilege for office workers stuck indoors 9am-5pm, so we all appreciated the chance to get away from our desks into the great outdoors.
We found working outside was incredible for our well-being and mental health – we had staff members eager to join the next session after finishing their slot, showing just how much enjoyment we got from the work.
Alongside the benefits of being outside, we also loved chatting to the visitors of the park. Whether a quick ‘hello’ or an inquisitive ‘what are you working on?’ we were made to feel part of the community, and many people expressed their gratitude towards the volunteers. It made the work so worthwhile and encouraged us to work even harder towards making the park a welcoming place.
As well as edging the paths, we trimmed trees and bushes, scraped the paths clean, brushed away mud and leaves, picked up litter, dragged fallen branches away, and lots more.
Every task on its own seemed like such a small contribution to the park and we wondered if it would make any impact at all, but when we looked back at the end of the day we felt really proud we’d managed to make even a small difference. It shows that putting in just a bit of work each time can add up to something great.
We hope the volunteering brings more people to the park, especially when the weather picks up next year! We totalled 272 hours of work in the park and were really pleased with everyone’s willingness to get involved.
Our last session for 2018 was scheduled for December which unfortunately got cancelled due to the weather, but we will be back with full force in 2019. We’re sure there will be plenty of paths to edge and mud to clear after winter so watch this space…
For more information about Darlington Cares, the volunteering in parks around Darlington and other great work the group undertakes, please visit http://www.darlingtoncares.co.uk/.