2020 was a tough year for all, and this was no different for us as a charity. Many of our events and activities had to be cancelled, our public fundraising efforts were significantly impacted, and our ability to complete practical management and education works were curtailed. So the funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund came as very welcome relief.
This funding allowed us to adapt how we worked to cope with the pandemic, increasing our resilience as an organisation, and even improving how we completed some activities above pre-pandemic levels.
With the grant we were able to equip our staff and volunteers with additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) so they were Covid-safe, and provide additional tools and monitoring equipment so that they were able to safely social distance and not have to share items and risk cross-contamination.
The sudden need to work from home also put a strain on our ageing technology, so through the grant we were able to replace our oldest computers and phones so that we could continue to stay in touch with each other and our members and help us provide the level of service for people and wildlife that we aim for.
Throughout lockdown we have kept all of our nature reserves open to the public as these local, publicly accessible, free to visit sites are essential to people’s health and wellbeing, and they are needed now more than ever. However, we were aware that with so many people isolating and travel distances restricted, our members and supporters would still want to know what is going on across Gwent. So we invested in additional digital equipment including cameras, trailcams and editing software to allow us to monitor wildlife populations and bring our wonderful local wildlife closer to people via our website and social media channels into your homes.
For example, to celebrate World Wetlands Day on the 2nd of February 202 we used our newly acquired National Lottery funded kit to film a virtual coastal walk, which in recent years has taken place in person, but due to Covid this year could not. So instead, our Senior Conservation Ecologist Andy Karran, brought the coast to your living room through a film we made of his walk. You can view this on the link below.
In November, the funding also allowed us to employ an HR and Volunteering Officer, Sarah Coleman, as if nothing else this pandemic has shown how important it is to ensure that we look after our staff and volunteers. Sarah has already been working to update and improve the volunteer database and Trust’s policies and procedures, and taken on the planning and booking of training to free up reserves officer time to complete more conservation work.