We were recently delighted to welcome a group of Waitrose & Partners staff from all over Sussex and Kent, who came along to spend a day volunteering at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. The Waitrose team were led by Crowborough branch manager Matthew Street.
Sussex Wildlife Trust corporate volunteering days are useful for all involved. It's great for team-building, because staff leave their normal routines and are given the opportunity to learn about nature, whilst doing something worthwhile. And the work they do for us is invaluable for the Sussex Wildlife Trust. In this case, the rare and endangered species we have at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve are able to thrive because we maintain the habitats they depend on, and volunteers play an important role in helping us to do that.
After the team arrived, we introduced ourselves and I talked about the Reserve and what we do here. We made sure everyone had the right protective gear, then we headed off to Castle Water and got to work, cutting back willows from the reedbeds. This is a key habitat in our 1100-acre Nature Reserve, home to one of the UK’s rarest birds, the bittern.
We were impressed by how hard everyone worked. Then, after a well-earned lunch, we had a tour of the castle.
After the day, we asked Matthew for feedback. He said: “It was really good to take part in the willow cutting and see the immediate impact our work had on the environment. The whole experience was excellent, with the right balance between hard work and information sharing."
And, inspired by their team-building day surrounded by nature, the team’s Waitrose stores across Sussex and Kent will include the Discovery Centre Appeal as part of their Community Matters ‘green token’ scheme, where customers vote for their favourite charity of the month.
We’d love other organisations in the region to think about how they can support our work.