Finish any of the remaining food shopping and get to the bunkhouse as early as you can. Make sure you contact the Ranger if you have arranged to do so, and be ready to greet the volunteers. Please do introduce yourself to new volunteers and talk to them making them welcome – don’t just ignore them. If you don’t stay at the bunkhouse when you have opened up leave a clear notice of where you have gone, with directions of how to find it and a time when you will be back. NEVER leave the bunkhouse unattended and unlocked. We often meet at a nearby pub or, once everyone has arrived at the bunkhouse, head off to a pub. If any volunteer fails to arrive, try to find out what has happened to them.
Getting things ready will take longer than you think. It’s best to aim for you to get up by 7am to prepare teas/coffees and breakfast to ensure everyone is ready to start work at 9am – bring an alarm clock with you.Don’t forget that everyone joins in with domestic duties, so recruit people to help you. It has become customary to encourage everyone to get up by taking them a cup of tea or coffee at about 8.00am, before breakfast. Get foods for lunch out onto a convenient table to allow volunteers to make their own packed lunches.
Make up squash and pack biscuits for tea breaks. Ensure that everyone has prepared their lunch before they leave.
Try not to leave people (or lunch!) behind and don’t forget to lock the bunkhouse when you leave. If there is a minibus, the driver is responsible for checking that it is roadworthy. If not satisfied with the vehicle’s condition do not use it, and explain politely to the ranger why it is not roadworthy.
Allocate someone with a camera to document the day, the better they are at taking photos, the more success we’ll have using them to promote future events. During the weekend find a volunteer to do a short writeup of the experience . Put in some information about the work that was done, but don’t be afraid to write a bit about how it felt being there, doing the work, the relationships with staff or leader (avoiding names), what was enjoyable, insights into the experience of volunteering, etc. Photos and written copy will be used in the group’s posts and social media, and could also be used in newsletters. Producing a little good information and images of each event is a really important part of promoting the group and maintaining good relationships with the community of supporters and other interested people.
Get the Ranger to outline the task(s) to be done and why you are doing them. Once at the worksite there should be a tools demonstration and safety talk, usually given by the Ranger. Count the tools so you know what needs to be returned. Check where the First Aid Kit(s) is/are and ensure you know where the nearest (open) casualty department is. Accidents should be reported to the Ranger.
Try to mix experienced volunteers with those who are newer, and enable people to swap around if they want to, especially if you have to do one or two jobs that are more physically demanding than the rest.
Aim to have squash breaks at about 11am and 3pm and call lunch by 1pm, although do not stick rigidly to set times but decide them as the work allows. In the winter we often have a slightly late lunch and no afternoon break as we finish about 3 – 3:30pm depending on the light and temperature. Try to keep lunch to within an hour and tea breaks to within 20 minutes. You should aim to work to 4:30 – 5:00pm (or whatever the ranger requires of you) to finish the job.
On leaving the worksite check all the tools and first aid kit(s) back in and leave everything safe, e.g. turn bonfires in, clear debris from footpaths.
On return to the bunkhouse, get the evening meal started and organise other domestic duties. After the meal, ensure that the washing up is done before people wander off to the pub. Remember that everyone joins in with domestic duties, so recruit people to help out. Remember that there are alternatives to the pub, so do not expect everyone to go along. Some of these cost money so be sure the volunteers can and want to pay extra before you go ahead.
Now is the best time to ask for any outstanding money. Other expenses (e.g. electricity meters, minibus fuel) may need to be paid, and other income (e.g. membership fees) may need to be collected. Any volunteers who have booked late will have to pay you at the weekend; any credit held in the system cannot be used to cover late bookings.
Adopt the same procedures as Saturday until lunchtime, and agree a packing up time with the ranger which will allow everyone to get home by 6 to 7pm, more important when we are working further afield. Where possible, try to get the job finished to a definite stage by lunchtime. Don’t forget to check the tools and first aid kit(s) – playing hunt the missing tool is not much fun but necessary – and leave everything safe. Do thank the Ranger, and hopefully he or she will thank us.
Back at the bunkhouse, have a quick lunch. Make sure everything is left cleaner than you found it. Get everyone to help.
Don’t forget to ask for any outstanding money before people start to leave. Also check that all passengers have got a lift back, as sometimes the arrangements for arriving on Friday are not the same as leaving on Sunday.
Pack up any spare non-perishable food items, such as sugar, teabags, coffee etc and make arrangements to pass them on to the leader of a forthcoming weekend. If another volunteer will be taking the food directly to the weekend, ensure that the leader receives a list of what to expect.
Thank everyone for coming and make sure they all get away alright.
Return the bunkhouse keys etc. as necessary.