Get involved in great outdoors

Jill Oberlin-Harris fouinder of the Friends of Teesmouth Seaton Dunes and Common group shown with volunteers.
Jill Oberlin-Harris fouinder of the Friends of Teesmouth Seaton Dunes and Common group shown with volunteers.

COUNTRYSIDE enthusiasts are hoping to attract more volunteers to get involved with their work – but admit funding is a problem.

The town’s Wild Green Spaces project was able to improve many outdoor areas across the town thanks to a £450,000 grant.

But that funding ran out in September and with it two paid countryside supervisors lost their jobs.

The project helped to set up a number of other countryside and environment groups around the town including the Friends of Hartlepool’s Wild Green Spaces which was launched on the back of the scheme.

One of those groups, the Friends of Teesmouth, is on the lookout for more young volunteers, but those who give up their time to support the groups aren’t able to dedicate as many hours as they would have done previously because of the reduced number of paid supervisors who can work alongside them.

Jill Oberlin-Harris, a volunteer who helped to found the Friends of Teesmouth group, said: “We are all keen to do our bit to improve the environment in Hartlepool, however we need the support of paid staff as they have the knowledge and experience to make everything happen in a safe and organised way.”

Jill, a former teacher who lives in Clifton Avenue, in the town, is hoping to attract young volunteers to get involved with the work the group does and believes schools and colleges can make students aware of the Friends of Teesmouth and similar set-ups across Hartlepool.

And she said there are a number of benefits to volunteering, highlighted by the group’s other volunteers.

Dave Jackson, Friends of Teesmouth’s volunteer leader, said: “I think the volunteers are a fantastic work force and make a real positive contribution to the town’s green spaces.”

Volunteer Michael Weimer added: “We’re out in the open in all weathers.

“It’s like one big family, we are all from different walks of life but we all have skills that we can teach each other.”

Deborah Jefferson, Hartlepool Borough Council’s countryside officer, always welcomes new volunteers but admitted the need for more funding.

The countryside team is continuing to apply for a number of grants to develop ongoing projects across the town.

l To volunteer or donate, call Jill on 07974009171 or Deborah on 07881858829.