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At the start of a New Year, many of us are thinking of trying something new and perhaps making a positive difference in our communities. We’re often told that it is the little things in life that really matter.
Laura White, network engagement coordinator with the charity Sustrans – which makes it easier for people in Scotland to cycle, walk or wheel so more of their everyday journeys are greener and healthier – has been explaining how small actions from volunteers are having a big impact on the National Cycle Network and why hundreds of people across Scotland are giving their time to make a difference. And she’s inviting more of us to get involved.
Laura’s new blog is featured on the Sustrans website.
Laura writes: ‘Throughout the pandemic, I’ve seen our amazing volunteers prove that many people taking small actions can have a huge combined impact.
‘In May 2021, Sustrans Scotland partnered with Keep Scotland Beautiful for their Summer Clean pledge. People pledged just 20 minutes of their time to litter pick a mile of local National Cycle Network .
‘Our target was to clean up 500 miles during the three-week campaign. In the end, nearly 100 people pledged their time and they cleaned 600 miles of Network routes across Scotland.
‘Volunteers told me that the motivation which the Summer Clean gave them to get out on the network, even for a short time, really helped their mental health.’
Summer clean pledge volunteer Matt said: ‘It was great for me personally. With working from home, I think I barely got out of the house that week. But I put it in my diary and it gave me an excuse to get out. It was such a nice day, just two hours, but I think my whole week was better because of it.’
Many of Sustrans Summer Clean pledgers have continued to give their time to the National Cycle Network in Scotland. And as they’ve become more involved in Sustrans volunteering projects, they’ve developed new skills.
Laura continues: ‘One volunteer who originally pledged 20 minutes during the summer went on to join our autumn barrier audit.
‘This project trained 40 volunteers across Scotland to survey, assess and record barriers along the network.
‘Across a two-month period, volunteers surveyed 267 miles of Scotland’s traffic-free routes and recorded information on over 1,600 barriers.
‘The information these volunteers gathered is now helping our network development team and their partners to remove or redesign barriers which are preventing many people from walking, wheeling and cycling on the paths.
‘Volunteers are enabling us to create paths which are for everyone. And this vital work simply wouldn’t be possible without them.’
Sustrans wants to give everyone the opportunity to care for the network in ways which best suit them. The organisation has now created quick ways to volunteer.
Visit www.sustrans.org.uk/get-involved/volunteer/quick-ways-to-volunteer-with-sustrans for lots of ideas for how you can make a difference to the network in just a couple of minutes. You can also sign up for updates on how you can become more involved.