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Thursday, 1 March 2012

New Forest volunteering can be the key to employment

People who are looking to gain more experience in areas they are passionate about should come to the second annual Volunteer Fair at the New Forest Community Centre.

This free event will have over 30 organisations with potential volunteering opportunities that may help people gain future employment.

Claire Shepherd, who works for CABI (Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux International) in Oxfordshire, started volunteering in the New Forest in 2010. She said: ‘I was studying biology at university but I wanted to get some hands-on, practical experience. I worked with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust as a summer volunteer on a project monitoring invasive plants across the New Forest for four months.

‘In the current economic climate getting a job can be difficult, but volunteering meant I had real examples I could draw on to demonstrate skills to potential employers. Working with other volunteers, communicating with staff and the ability to present data clearly have all been important skills to learn. The project allowed me to work independently which was great for building my confidence and proving that I could work under my own initiative.

‘Volunteering is also a great way of getting really involved in the work of an organisation, and it has really helped me to focus on how I could develop my future career too.’

Jim Mitchell, the New Forest National Park’s Interpretation Officer, said: ‘Volunteering can really make the difference in securing that job you really want. The Volunteer Fair offers a wealth of opportunities to get new skills and experience that will help you stand out when applying for employment in a difficult jobs market.’

Organisations signed up to attend the Fair include the Forestry Commission, which is looking for new volunteer rangers; the National Trust, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust; Friends of New Forest Airfields; Sir Harold Hillier Gardens; New Forest Transition; the New Forest Centre; Hampshire Conservation Volunteers; Hampshire Scouts and many more.

The New Forest National Park Authority will also be promoting its new project - 'New Forest remembers: untold stories of World War II'. Volunteers are needed to help record the stories of those who were in the New Forest, either living, stationed or evacuated, during World War II.

The Volunteer Fair will be held on Saturday 3 March from 10:30am - 4pm at Lyndhurst Community Centre. For more information visit

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