20th April 2021

It is fantastic to see locals groups inspired by the coronavirus lockdown to volunteer to improve their local environment in the Colne Valley Regional Park. In Iver, a volunteer group has been doing an amazing job for some time. This article explains more about the group’s origins and how they work.

Meet Andy Thomas from “The Ivers – Volunteers at Work Group”, who tells us more about the group and why he enjoys looking after his local environment.

The Ivers – Volunteers at Work” (TIVAW) is a pretty informal group, comprising residents of the Ivers, each with a passion to improve the appearance and accessibility of our surroundings for other residents and visitors to the area. Improvements are delivered through an ongoing visible clean-up campaign which can include litter picking, weed clearance, cleaning bollards and community road signs – particularly speed signs, clearing overgrown footpaths to expose their full widths, cutting back overgrown Public Rights of Way Bridleways and Footpaths to maintain accessibility, grass cutting, leaf clearance and bulb planting. 

TIVAW is on its way to completing almost 200 sessions, each session lasting around 2-3 hrs with on average 4 volunteers (pre COVID restrictions) attending. This equates to almost 2500 volunteer hours of effort to date.

Before and after images from our volunteer sessions are communicated back to the community through our popular blog on social media. Many residents have commented how they look forward to seeing these images of the often-stark improvements achieved. Anyone can view our image archive by visiting www.facebook.com/groups/TIVAW/

We often collaborate with volunteers from other organisations including those connected with Iver & District Countryside Association, Colne Valley Park and Groundwork South.

I first got involved with volunteering in 2017, when what should have been a straightforward walk along one particular local footpath turned out to be quite a traumatic, intimidating experience. Up to 80% of this narrow path on a blind bend was restricted by long term build-up of uncleared vegetation, so rather than just accept the situation, out came the shovel and brush and over several weekends this one section of path was cleared. Other residents spotted what was going on and joined in…TIVAW was born.

I really enjoy volunteering, aside from connecting with others, being out in the fresh air and getting some exercise, seeing the tangible, visible improvements in the community where I live is very rewarding. Observing others getting involved whether with our group, other volunteer groups or just making a difference on their own, however big or small is great to see. The general benefits of volunteering are well known and include

  • connects you with others, builds bonds and creates friends
  • builds self-confidence and self-esteem
  • important for physical and mental health
  • important for a sense of purpose

 I hear it often being said “it’s someone else’s responsibility” to do this stuff, I guess my view is it is all our responsibility. Today, if something is spotted that needs improving and it’s safe to tackle then volunteers in the Ivers are very proactive and tend to just get on with it.. less talk – more action!.  It’s true what they say, every little improvement makes a huge difference”.

Andy also helps to run ‘Walking the Ivers’, a fantastic online video playlist of wonderful walks and footpaths in the local countryside and tells us:

During Covid, a group of us locally wanted to raise the awareness of the amazing 30km network of Public Rights of Way Footpaths and Bridleways criss crossing the Ivers.  Today, by searching “Walking the Ivers” on YouTube or Facebook, viewers can select any Public Rights of Way Footpath or Bridleway in the Ivers and join a real time, accompanied walk, experiencing its sights and sounds with occasional pauses where knowledge of the route, its flora and fauna may be shared. Viewers may also leave their comments on these videos, increase the sharing of knowledge about the Ivers. Taking a walk or exercising outside in green spaces and natural light is a great way to connect with nature and improve health and mental wellbeing”.

Walking the Ivers

Find out more about “The Ivers – Volunteers at Work” by visiting www.facebook.com/groups/TIVAW/

Click here to find out more about the Iver and District Countryside Assocation and here to find out more about the Friends of the Colne Valley Park.

If you feel inspired why not contact your local group to get involved. We would like to thank all the committed groups caring for the countryside, from Hillingdon Litter pickers in the middle of the Park down to Spelthorne litter pickers in the south, to name just two.