It’s no secret that volunteers are the heartbeat of a charity. Our volunteers are what makes our planting days so successful - their time and expertise literally gets trees in the ground, and we wouldn’t be gearing up to our 2 millionth tree without them.
During a recent planting event, we met up with Volunteer Supervisor Sam. Sam is one of our volunteers who has attended so many of our planting events that she now helps supervise others!
The frost of the morning had melted and whips were already in the ground by the time we caught up with Sam. It was a busy planting day, with over 100 volunteers, so Sam had been guiding new volunteers on how to plant the baby trees and did it all like a seasoned pro.
Spurred on by community spirit
A town planner by day, Sam first volunteered with Trees for Cities at Hackney Marshes planting day in Feb 2020. “I had been looking for an environmental charity to support and saw the community event advertised. I was so struck by the passion and positivity of everyone that day that I continued volunteering at other events, as far as we could around the pandemic, and enrolled on the Trees for Cities planting supervisor training in October 2021.”
Good vibes are a guarantee at our planting days, it's one of the magical aspects of our events: people from all walks of life gather to do something wonderful and wholesome for the community. So what keeps Sam coming back year after year?
“The people who work for Trees for Cities and the other planting supervisors are a great bunch. Dave was my planting supervisor at my first event in Hackney and he's such a character. Everyone's just really passionate about doing their bit for the environment!”
My job is office based, so I really look forward to these planting events. Even if it's wet and cold on the day - it's still just such a lovely atmosphere.
“It’s also so nice to be outside,” Sam adds, “And it’s never the wrong weather for planting.”
This is great to hear - because we do what we can to make up for having to plant in the colder months. Our events have free hot lunches and drinks, music to plant to, and sometimes extras like live bands or workshops. It’s not just planting trees - it's a community day out!
Sharing the love of it all
Sam’s role during our planting events is vital. We often get over a hundred volunteers and need the extra help. Our Volunteer Supervisors teach groups how to plant trees, and keep an eye to make sure everyone is doing it correctly and safely.
“I think an important part of our role is to share the love of it all,” Sam explains, “as we’re planting we’re chatting to kids and adults, sharing what we know about the trees and telling them to tell their friends about the events. That’s how you spread the word and encourage more people to come along!”
Advice for getting started
What advice does Sam have for people looking to attend a planting day?
“Bring waterproof shoes and sunscreen! Sometimes you'll have an early start and it's freezing outside, so you get all your layers on and head out. Then suddenly the sun comes out blazing and you could well go home with a sunburnt nose!”
It’s a beautiful day in West End Road, there’s a blue sky above us as we chat and a gentle babble of conversation coming from the volunteers. How does Sam feel after a day of planting like this?
“If you've been pushing barrows of bark mulch around over muddy fields all day you can feel it in your legs and arms for sure, but it's a good feeling. It's great for the environment and the soul!”