A Greener Gym

An innovative scheme in London aims to get people fit and help them gain invaluable new skills while making a difference to the community.

The Green Gym BTCV is a scheme that inspires people to improve both their health and the environment at the same time.

Experienced leaders guide volunteers through a range of practical projects throughout London, giving them the opportunity to tackle physical jobs in the outdoors – improving their strength and stamina, boosting their practical skills and confidence and benefiting their local green spaces.

Common activities for volunteers include building flower beds in a retirement home, hedge laying, picking litter, planting flowers for a women’s refuge, working on nature reserves and helping local groups in gardening projects.

I spoke to participant Anna Ware who came to the scheme after being made redundant from a sales job. She now works full-time in environmental outreach programmes.

‘Before I volunteered, I’d say I was worried about climate change, our carbon footprint, but had no idea how I could help or what it meant. That said, I still wanted to make a difference, so while I wasn’t working I started looking for volunteering opportunities. I decided to focus on environmental topics, which is when I first came across Green Gym.

‘BTCV gave me the opportunity to train as a conservation project leader and gave me the networks I need to further what I believe in. I realised community engagement and creating organisational links was what I truly enjoyed and this enabled me to move careers into an outreach role.

‘Through regular volunteering in and around Camden with BTCV I soon learned how stag beetles don’t like north London, there’s no such thing as weeds, newts and frogs don’t make good neighbours and now I can identify a multitude of wildflowers.

‘I’m a firm believer in how small things can make a massive change; it only takes a few individuals making the decision to reduce their carbon footprint to make a big difference. Because I know I can change things I will continue to volunteer with the Carbon Army even though I now have a full-time job. The Green Gym allowed me to see the difference I was making by letting me make that difference.’

BTCV Green Gym in Camden
Bridgewater House
11 Crinan Street
N1 9SQ

Tel: 020 7278 4294

Image by Costi courtesy of stock.xchng

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