As a general election campaign gets underway we may hear the word ‘austerity’ used a great deal. Whatever the outcome of the next few weeks, it seems unlikely that austerity will go away. In the last five years, national parks have received cuts of up to 40% in real terms and suffered job losses of over 200 people. This means finding new ways to care for these precious places. Our volunteers are part of the solution, enabling more work to be carried out than could ever be achieved by staff at Friends of the Lake District or National Park Authorities.

Each year, over 300 Friends of the Lake District volunteers work to protect the outstanding and fragile landscapes of the Lake District and Cumbria. They do this through planting native woodlands; repairing footpaths to prevent soil erosion in sensitive upland habitats; maintaining upland hay meadows; conducting species surveys and taking part in red squirrel conservation activities.  Our volunteers also protect and enhance the cultural heritage of the landscape through carrying out highly skilled tasks such as dry stone walling and hedgelaying.

We have calculated that for every pound spent on volunteering activities, the landscape receives £2 in in-kind support. However, volunteer work isn’t free. Our team at Friends of the Lake District are responsible for running weekly work parties and putting on our increasingly popular ‘Fell Care Day’ volunteer events. We also provide landscape training and rural skills training to equip people to care for the places we love in the long term. To cover these activities we need to raise £88,000 in 2017.

“It was wonderful to be able to work together with Friends of the Lake District to allow these works. After the [2015] floods, we haven’t been able to afford heritage works like this, even on our own land. Together we have made a big difference to the Lake District. Long may it continue!” Nick Hall, Lake District National Park Field Ranger North & East

We know that not everyone can take part in practical volunteering themselves but will you be a part of our volunteering effort by helping to fund our varied list of volunteering activities in 2017? And to those of you who have volunteered with us over the last year, thank you. We couldn’t care for this landscape without you.