WWT Martin Mere Wetland Centre has paid tribute to its army of volunteers who helped the site get through the past, difficult year.
From testing water samples to answering the phones, many of the more than 100 numbers of volunteers put their fears about Covid-19 aside to help make sure Martin Mere came out of the pandemic in as strong a position as possible.
At the same time, volunteers have spoken about how their work has helped with their own mental health.
At Martin Mere this includes Southport-based Di Bond who has been volunteering at Martin Mere since 2015. Di said her partner
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in 2014, and she wanted something to occupy her mind.
“I didn’t feel ready to give up altogether,” she added.
Starting from day one on the front desk giving out information and greeting visitors, Di has always enjoyed the social element of the role.
This also includes taking people on guided tours of the grounds – which she has been given training to do.
Although Di has not been able to work through the lockdowns, she did return to Martin Mere for a couple of months last year and is now back at work again.
“It’s absolutely wonderful to be back, it brings some sort of normality into your day,” she said. “The schools are coming back now and it’s really good to see the children arriving, so excited.”
Di also said how beneficial volunteering at Martin Mere was for her wellbeing.
“You build up real friendships in your team, people who all have a common interest. There is a real sense of community.”
Nick Brooks, centre manager, said: “I am immensely grateful to all our volunteers, including those who carried on working right through lockdowns but also those who have not yet been able to return but have expressed a readiness and willingness to come back when they can.
“We really couldn’t have reopened without them and they have come back with so much motivation and enthusiasm, it really makes you realise how important Martin Mere is to the mental health of not just our volunteers, but to our visitors as well.
“I really want to pay tribute to all of them both those who have returned and those waiting to come back and say a huge thank you for all the work they have done, both before, during and since the end of the lockdowns over the past year.
“And as things hopefully start to get back to normal.”
WWT recently launched a new scheme called Blue Prescribing which aims to promote wellbeing in people experiencing mental health problems.
Dr Jonathan Reeves, WWT’s principal research officer (Health and Wellbeing) said there was growing evidence that being in nature can reduce stress, anxiety and depression.
If you are interested in volunteering at Martin Mere visit www.wwt. org.uk/volunteer and click on volunteering opportunities.