Last year, the Games Makers were lauded as making a tremendous contribution to the success of the Olympics. On the river Thames, volunteers were making a similar impact helping boaters at the 45 locks along its length between Lechlade and Teddington.
The Environment Agency, which is navigation authority for the Thames, is now recruiting for the 2013 season and are looking for volunteers who can commit to assisting at least one day a week between May and the end of September. Volunteers can agree their hours with lock keepers but need to be available at least from 11 to 5. Volunteers are particularly needed along the river between Reading and Lechlade. Volunteering is a great way to meet people and to find out more about the Thames, its history, wildlife and management. At the same time volunteers know that they are doing something worthwhile that is really appreciated.
Our Volunteer Assistant Lock Keepers work alongside paid lock keepers. They help boats pass through the lock safely: taking ropes, directing traffic, and operating sluices and lock gates. They help maintain the site: painting, tidying and gardening. They provide information to visitors, be they on foot or afloat, so that they can make the best of their time on the river. Visitors really appreciate the local knowledge that volunteers can provide.
All applicants are invited to an assessment at a local lock. Here they will have the role explained to them and be shown what it involves in practical terms. They will also be assessed to decide which site may be most appropriate for them and to ensure that they have the physical capabilities required. After successful completion of the assessment, they attend an induction course which focuses on safety and preparing them for the lock side.
On the lock side the volunteers follow a documented training programme before being signed off to take charge of the lock on their own. This will only be for short periods, while the paid keeper is at lunch for example. The volunteers are there to augment the service provided by paid staff rather than to replace them.
Volunteers are provided with some uniform and can claim mileage for travel to and from their lock (subject to a daily maximum). They also receive a monthly newsletter which keeps them in touch with what is going on along the river and other activities of the Environment Agency.
If you would like to find out more about volunteering on the Thames and to receive an information pack and application form, please contact the Volunteer team on 01491 828360 or email firstname.lastname@example.org