Nationwide more than 5,000 employees at the National Trust have been given Leap Day (29 February) off work to volunteer for a day in their local communities. The Trust’s North Cornwall team has chosen to spend the time giving the Polzeath Marine Centre its spring spruce-up.
The ‘Local Leap’ celebrates the importance of volunteering as the Trust, which itself enjoys the support of more than 62,000 volunteers, continues to build links with its local communities.
It follows a similar initiative four years ago when the charity’s employees were given a day off work to make green improvements at home – sparking national debate about who ‘owns’ the extra day in the year.
The Local Leap also marks the centenary year of the death of one of the charity’s founders, Octavia Hill, who was passionate about the role volunteering could play within society.
Local Leap volunteering activities in the Southwest Region cover a huge range: litter picking in town centres, tree planting and scrub clearance, decorating hospices and schools, helping charities complete grant applications, developing local campaigns to save a derelict building, to name just a few.
Mike Simmonds, Head Ranger said: “We are thrilled that we can use our Local Leap Day to help the Polzeath Marine Centre. This, largely community run, information point is invaluable in educating and engaging with local people and our visitors to inform them about the wealth and importance of our coastal and marine wildlife. This is of particular importance as Polzeath is one of only five Voluntary Marine Conservation Areas in Cornwall, recognised because of their rich marine environment. The centre is buzzing in the season with interested visitors and the volunteers there help co-ordinate a huge variety of public events and activities for all to enjoy. We hope we can give this small, but vitally important community hub, the Spring spruce-up it deserves, ready for the season”
Fiona Reynolds, Director-General of the National Trust who will be volunteering with her local Riding for the Disabled stables, explained: “The Trust knows first-hand how important volunteering is. We simply couldn’t function without our volunteers.’
“The sheer spread of the places we look after means that we have close links with communities the length and breadth of the country.
“Through Local Leap we want to get to know our local communities even better, and build new relationships into the future.’