Celebrating our volunteers: Steve Emery, Parks in Mind

Steve Emery cutting holm oak in Shelley Park

As part of National Volunteering Week we're celebrating some of the amazing work our volunteers do both in our parks and Head Office. If you're interested in volunteering then have a look at our volunteering opportunities to find out how you could support us.

Steve Emery, one of our Parks in Mind volunteers tells us what it's like to volunteer in Shelley Park...


I have always enjoyed volunteering, whether thorough my children’s school or local sports clubs etc. It’s left me with a deep sense of satisfaction that I’m doing something that satisfies both myself and people around me. When I moved to the Bournemouth area, I felt I needed to do something that would keep that satisfaction going. Unfortunately, the avenues I used in the past weren’t readily open to me, I had no children at school nor was I involved in sport in the way I used to be. An opportunity came through the Bournemouth Parks Foundation and I became involved in a number of fund-raising and general awareness events. Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed the events, they weren’t regular enough for me to be fully involved.

Peter from Parks in Mind contacted me about a new initiative regarding activities in the parks which were designed to use the parks to help people’s well-being though various projects. I was eager to get involved and attended the inaugural meeting. I liked what I saw and was eager to be part of the project. Having work commitments meant that I wasn’t always available, so I decided to designate a day a week to help in the project, so I chose Wednesday at Shelly park to be my day of volunteering.

I’ve now been volunteering for over 2 years, although I did have to take 6 months out to renovate a house, now that project is finished I was ready and eager to re-start again only for COVID-19 to hit and postpone my restart.

There are a number of reasons I enjoy volunteering with Parks in Mind, first of all, being outside enhances my well-being. Studies show that time spent outside in nature greatly enhance a person’s well-being and I can certainly vouch for that, I always feel better once I’ve spent 4 hours or so in the open. However, the main thrill from volunteering comes from my connection with people and nature;

I’m connected to nature, getting my hands on trees, plants and soil enhances a connection we all have to living things, and helps recognise just how important nature is to us and how we are all dependant on the nature around us. Just being in nature helps me feel connected to other living things.

I’m connected to the local community. There have been a number of times when local people have come up to me and expressed gratitude for the work we are doing to enhance their local space. This gives me a deep sense of pride that I’m doing something that people really appreciate.

Finally, I’m connected to my fellow volunteers. I’ve made connections with people I would never have met if not for Parks in Mind. Its great to see people making friends and having a joint interest in the work we are doing. I thoroughly enjoy the camaraderie that has developed over the last couple of years. We have become a community in our own right.

I like spreading the message about Parks in Mind, I often tell people about what a worthwhile cause it is and how it’s helped me and others like me to really connect to something. It gets you out in the open, gets you meeting people and gets you involved in an activity that really builds a community spirit.



If you're interested in joining our Parks in Mind team of volunteers please contact our Project Leader, Peter Holloway:

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