Did you know we have a team of amazing volunteers who act as the backbone of the SWCP, the true guardians of the Trail.
Volunteers’ Week - the annual celebration of British volunteers (1st - 7th June) - and World Trails Day - the annual celebration of global long-distance footpaths on 5th June are the perfect time to introduce you to our rather brilliant volunteers, and with your help, raise £5,000 to support our growing volunteering programme.
Volunteers outnumber our staff team here at the Association by around 10 to 1, which should give you some idea of their impact on the Trail! In fact it was a group of volunteers that founded the Association back in 1973 to lobby for and help establish the National Trail in the first place.
9 million of us every year use the South West Coast Path National Trail to support our wellbeing and connect with nature, but we don’t always stop to think about the devoted individuals working behind the scenes to keep our coastline accessible. Now is the chance to pay tribute to them, and if you can, help them help you, by making a donation to our Volunteer Fund.
Here is how your donation could support our volunteers in their work caring for the SWCP:
£25 – helps us purchase a waterproof jacket for a volunteer to wear whilst surveying the path or when leading walking groups
- £150 – helps us purchase a tablet and hardwearing case for a volunteer to survey the Trail's condition.
- £250 – helps us purchase 4 x Walk Packs for volunteers comprising a rucksack with first aid kit, emergency foil blanket, OS map of area, lightweight binoculars, a water bottle and a foldable litter picker.
A gift of any size, small or large, makes a difference. Thank you on behalf of our volunteers and all Coast Path-users for your kindness and generosity.
Meet four of our amazing volunteers - click the images to read about the work that they undertake for the Trail and what motivates them to do it:
Jane Rattue, Local Rep (L) Kevin Richards, Local Rep (R)
Eve Bampton-Wilton, Health Trustee (L) Tino Savvas, Area Rep (R)
"Between year's end and March we undertake a survey of the path, checking that they are still safe and accessible, that the gates close well to keep stock secure and that the signage is easily readable and points walkers along the trail." - Jane
"The coast has been my place to escape to for my sanity as well as enjoy with friends and family. It is only fitting for me to give back to life around me that has given me so much." - Kevin
"I currently support the Association from a health and wellbeing perspective, advising on things related to mental health and developing relationships between the Association and other local organisations." - Eve
"I am a member of the Path Committee which is responsible for managing the review of the condition of the Path and recommending improvements, through the local maintenance providers" - Tino
Paying tribute to our volunteers
We have more than 80 dedicated volunteer Path Reps around the South West who invest approximately 2,000 hours in the Trail each year, as well as 12 volunteer Trustees who oversee all our charitable activity. The Path Rep's primary role is to undertake an annual condition survey of the Coast Path using tablets carrying specialist surveying software.
Path Reps are our eyes and ears on the ground, regularly feeding vital data back from their assigned local stretch to us at SWCP HQ, including between surveys. Thanks to their efforts, we can respond to Trail emergencies and get an early head’s up about where deteriorating infrastructure or coastal erosion threatens the Path’s integrity, which in turn keeps the way open for us all to enjoy. Our volunteers are instrumental in helping us shape future Path projects and in channelling your donations to where they are most needed – and do this work for free, out of love of the Coast Path.
This map shows which Path Rep looks after which section (click to open):
Equipping our volunteers now and for the future
Whilst our volunteers generously offer their skills and time for free, volunteering programmes are not free to run. There are many practical costs to the charity to fund this essential work: we need to ensure that our Path Reps in particular are trained, insured, supported by staff members, equipped with the right technology and kit, and importantly, are safe with the necessary PPE.
As a society, we now better appreciate that being active in natural landscapes is a vital component of our physical and mental wellbeing, and that unfortunately there are huge disparities in equity of access to these wild places within UK communities. To help tackle some of these issues on the South West Coast Path, we are scaling up and diversifying our volunteering programme to include outreach work similar to that of our successful Coach to Coast projects which improve accessibility for underrepresented groups.
Through this appeal, we hope to raise £5,000 to help us pay for immediate and ongoing volunteer needs, but if we are lucky enough to raise significantly more than we expect, we will put the additional funding towards expanding our volunteer offering.