Before the weekend four things happen:
- You get the paperwork by email from the Bookings Officer.
- You contact the National Trust staff to confirm the work and other details.
- You contact the volunteers to check they are coming and confirm transport arrangements.
- You plan and buy the food.
1. THE PAPERWORK
The paperwork, which is sent to you by the Bookings Officer before the start of the work task, is in three parts:
- a list of names and phone numbers + who is driving or needs a lift (this you can keep afterwards, but do not pass it on to others),
- accounts information = a list of who has/hasn’t paid + summary tables (this goes back to the Treasurer),
- the hours sheet (this goes back to the Membership Officer after the event).
The money will be transferred to your bank account to cover the money pre-paid by volunteers for the weekend. Please note that not all volunteers will have paid in advance.
If the weekend is full, you will also have ‘reserves’ so you can get the maximum number of people on the weekend who want to attend. Check with the ranger if you can have any extra people. It is up to you to advise people on the reserve list that they can come, for instance if someone with a place cancels. You must not give preference to late bookings over those who are already on a waiting list for the weekend. If anyone cancels, please make a note of when and why they did so. This information will be used by the Treasurer to determine if credits will be given. In principle no refunds are given to those with a place allocated, but of course there are exceptions, e.g. if someone is ill or has to work.
2. CONTACTING THE NATIONAL TRUST STAFF
These are generally Rangers. Sometimes the Bunkhouse Ranger and the Worksite Ranger are different, in which case you will need to phone both. The Ranger’s contact numbers are given on the Accounts Summary sheet. You need to check that everything is OK, in particular:
- tell him or her how many volunteers to expect and find out what the work will be in more detail,
- ask if any special equipment is needed (e.g. wellington boots),
- arrange to have the bunkhouse unlocked on the Friday night,
- fix the place and time to meet for work on the Saturday.
Also, if there is a minibus, check how to get the keys and if there is sufficient fuel (or where the account garage is). If you are not a trained minibus driver yourself, you will need to persuade someone else before the weekend, so they can be reminded to bring their driving licence and minibus (MIDAS) certificate.
3. CONTACTING THE VOLUNTEERS
You should phone / e-mail all the volunteers who have booked to check they’re still OK about coming on the weekend; this is particularly important for new volunteers or those that you don’t know so at least you will recognise them when you meet! Don’t forget to claim back the cost of the phone calls via the accounts sheet.
You will also need to (try to) arrange lifts for each driver / passenger to make sure they can come to the task in the most economical (and environmentally friendly) way. Travel costs are sorted out directly between passengers and drivers: if there are any quibbles the passengers can each offer the driver around 3p/mile as a contribution to their driving costs. Often though, lifts won’t be available, and volunteers will need to use public transport.
4. PLANNING AND BUYING THE FOOD
Currently volunteers pay £10 for each weekend (£15 for bank holidays). Overall, weekends should break even – so small surpluses help to cover those weekends that make a small loss. Do get receipts and try to buy food as near to the weekend as possible, when you have a good estimate of numbers. We have a food box containing some essentials (e.g. tea, coffee, sugar, cereals, salt, pepper etc) which we try to ensure is passed on so it gets to most weekends. Try to establish who has this and that it can get to your weekend. If so find out what it contains to save buying what we already have.
The printout will say whether there are any people with special dietary requirements, such as vegetarians. Remember that some processed foods including margarine, biscuits etc contain animal ingredients, and may be unacceptable to stricter vegetarians. Check with the volunteer if you are unsure!
When planning the catering, work out your menu first, then calculate the ingredients and finally produce your shopping list. The following is only a handy checklist; please note that longer weekends (e.g. Bank Holidays) will need proportionately more of everything. Evening meals should consist of at least a main course and a pudding.
|Bread (Medium Sliced)||Allow half loaf per volunteer OR substitute some with rolls for lunch|
|Milk||Allow 1 pint per volunteer + 2/3 pints for flasks|
|Coffee||100g (medium) jar/10 people|
|Teabags||Allow 10 per person|
|Sugar (Granulated)||1 x 1kg bag should be enough|
|Margarine (e.g. Sunflower)||Allow 2kg/15 people + baking|
|Vegetable Cooking Oil||A minimal quality – 500ml|
|Beans/Tomatoes||1 medium tin (420 g) per 3 people per breakfast|
|Sausages/Bacon||Allow 2 per meat eater per breakfast (10 rashers of bacon weighs approx 300 g)|
|Veggie sausages/Veggie grills||Allow 2 per veggie per breakfast|
|Eggs for breakfast||Allow 1 per person per breakfast|
|Waffles/Hash Browns||Allow 2 per person per breakfast|
|Breakfast cereal/muesli||Allow 3 family sized packs for 12 people per weekend|
|Orange/Apple Juice||Allow 1 litre per 3 people|
|Tomato Ketchup/Brown Sauce|
|Ordinary Biscuits||Allow 1 pack per 3 volunteers per day|
|Squash concentrate||2 litres/12 volunteers (double in hot weather)|
|Fruit for Lunch||1 piece per person per lunch|
|Chocolate Biscuits||1 per person per lunch|
|Crisps||1 pack per person per lunch|
|Cheese for sandwiches||1 small pack (200 g) per lunch|
|Eggs for sandwiches||Half dozen per lunch|
|Tuna for sandwiches||1 large tin per lunch|
|Ham/Pate/Meat Paste||As required for sandwiches|
|Lettuce/Cucumber/Tomatoes||A small amount, as required for sandwiches|
|Pickle, Mayonnaise||Small jar of each for sandwiches|
|Salt, Pepper||Small pot of each (bunkhouse may already have some)|
|Vegetables for dinner||100 g frozen/150 g fresh per person|
|Meat for dinner||200 g frozen w bones/100 g fresh per person|
|Potatoes or pasta / rice for dinner||3 small/1 baking per person or 85 g per person|
|Pudding for dinner|
|Matches (or Lighter)||A small box is useful (for cooker or fire lighting)|
|Kitchen Paper||1 roll, if needed|
|Toilet Rolls*||1 per 4 people|
|Washing Up Liquid, Liquid Cleanser*||1 small bottle of each – ecofriendly for natural disposal|
|Scourers, Cleaning Cloths, Bin Liners*||A few are useful|
|Tea Towels*||From home (remember to take them home again)|
If you need any help with recipes, do ask around for what people have (successfully) cooked on weekends before. Don’t forget to multiply the amounts up if you are using a recipe for fewer people than those you are catering for on the weekend. Additionally, you may need to bring special utensils for cooking, such as a garlic crusher, or ingredients like stock cubes, herbs, Worcester sauce. And, if buying frozen food, check with the ranger that the bunkhouse has a freezer.
You may receive some left-over supplies passed on from a previous weekend. This will usually comprise non-perishable items such as salt, sugar, dried pasta, spices, etc, and can be very useful in helping to keep the shopping costs down.