The Colne Valley Green Team has achieved a remarkable amount. The team run ‘Green Skills Teams’: six-week or six-month programmes for local unemployed individuals to learn practical conservation and employability skills; corporate volunteering days, manage local rights of way and other green space enhancement and conservation projects. Learn more about the detail of what they get up to here.

Green Skills Teams

We run Green Skills Teams to both improve the environment, and improve people’s skills, prospects and employability. The Green Skills Team model works by taking on individuals who are unemployed and face barriers to employment. During their time in the Green Skills Team participants learn a wide range of practical conservation skills including hand tool use, and use of petrol powered tools like strimmers. They are also able to attend sessions to improve their employability to help prepare to enter the workforce. While part of the Green Skills Team participants meet new people, gain confidence, and learn in a safe and inclusive space.

A Green Skills Team ran in Deerwood Park Slough From November 23 until January 24 funded by SEGRO

The second of two Green Skills Teams in the current programme was based on Deerwood Park in Cippenham, Slough, an area of green space owned and managed by Slough Borough Council;  with a culvert running through it that forms part of Chalvey Ditch. Participants were taught how to use hand tools and petrol driven tools such as strimmers and brushcutters. Work carried out by the team included clearing bramble from around the culvert to improve visibility of the waterway, removal of litter and silt from the culvert to improve the flow rate, and construction of a dead hedge and habitat pile to provide better habitat for insects, birds and small mammals. At the end of the programme participants had the opportunity to gain a fully funded City & Guilds NPTC Level 2 Award in the Safe Use of Brushcutters qualification. Participants were also given a guaranteed interview at Groundwork South for a Green Skills Operative Trainee role.

The previous Green Skills Team was funded by SEGRO and ran for six weeks in July and August of 2023. This took place in Crown Meadow, an area of semi-natural grassland in Slough. Participants spent two days a week on site carrying out practical conservation work, and a further half day a week with our employability specialists developing employability skills. Work carried out on site by the Green Skills Team included dredging a pond, constructing a dead hedge, path maintenance, and clearance of refuse, amongst other things. Our corporate partners SEGRO also helped to install a rubbing trail for children on site as part of a volunteering day.

If you are interested in joining the programme, please email Jess at [email protected].

Corporate Volunteering Days

We facilitate corporate conservation volunteering days for a wide variety of corporate groups. As of October we have run 29 corporate days this year with groups such as Coca Cola, Centrica, MACE, Grundon and SEGRO to name just a few. These volunteering days take place across the Colne Valley Regional Park and include sites such as Harmondsworth Moor, Northmoor Hill Woods, Denham Country Park and in surrounding areas such as Dowding Park in Uxbridge, and Upton Court Park in Slough. On these days we undertake a wide variety of conservation tasks such as removal of invasive species, coppicing, bramble bashing, dead hedging, litter picking and more. We are always interested in working with new corporate groups. To be a corporate supporter and support us all year round not just for the practical days click here. Not yet a corporate supporter but would like a corporate volunteering day? Get in touch.

Rights of Way Management

We maintain the rights of way for Denham Parish Council. This involves strimming back overgrown public footpaths and bridleways in the Denham area twice a year, enabling Denham residents and visitors to enjoy walking in the beautiful local countryside.

Green Space Enhancement & Conservation Projects

We manage a wide variety of green spaces across the Colne Valley Regional Park including Big Caps, Little Caps, and Northmoor Hill woods in Denham; Affinity Fields in Ruislip Common, Swan Meadow in Iver, and Iver Allotments amongst others. In these places we work to preserve and enhance the local habitat, by creating a mosaic of flora which supports a broad range of local fauna, whilst also providing interesting and accessible areas for the public to enjoy. We also perform green space enhancement on a case by case basis in partnership with local land owners, as an example removal of non-native invasive species from sites of specific scientific interest (SSSI). Other projects we are currently involved in include installation of rain gardens and water butts to reduce pressure on the sewage system, make more efficient use of water, and prevent pollution events.

Meet the Green Team

The Green Team comprises, Steve Finn, who manages the team, Jessica Bampton, Green Team Leader and Simon Philips who delights in his ‘assistance’ role. Read their thoughts on commencing their roles.

After working 8 years in the Royal Parks I started working at the then Groundwork Thames Valley working as a horticultural supervisor teaching horticulture to the long-term unemployed. I then became a co-founder of Blue Sky Development & Generation, a Social Enterprise offering full-time employment to ex–offenders. 20 years later I have returned to my spiritual home Groundwork South as Green Skills Development and Projects Manager.

I began the role of Green Team Leader in March 2023 at Groundwork South. Since being a child I have loved spending time outdoors, and so as a teenager I used free time to volunteer with Groundwork Solent on the Make a Difference Project based in Southampton. This was my first taste of the conservation sector, and I got involved in lots of different projects, including building a roundhouse which was great fun. I went on to attend the University of Bristol where I carried on doing conservation volunteering most weekends and became President of the Bristol University Conservation Society. Following this I did a PhD in molecular plant biology and worked as a postdoctoral researcher for a year at the University of Southampton. I am now excited to be back at Groundwork, helping people discover and engage with the environmental sector, which I know from personal experience can make a massive difference to people’s lives.

I joined Groundwork in April 2023, having retired from the Metropolitan Police.  I served for 30 years as an officer, in a number of specialist roles and at various stations, predominantly as a detective. I decided I would like to work in the green sector a couple of years prior to retirement, so signed up for an environmental conservation course at Capel Manor College in Enfield. I’m looking forward to working as part of the Groundwork team and undertaking some practical conservation putting the theory I have learnt into practice.