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Who are we?

Oxford Conservation Volunteers is a voluntary organisation that has been carrying out practical work conserving the wildlife and traditional landscape of Oxfordshire since 1977. The group organises work parties every weekend and undertakes a wide variety of conservation work. This can range from the traditional craft of hedgelaying to the modern practice of wire fence building; from creating new hedges by tree planting to conserving chalk grassland habitats by scrub clearance.

These tasks are undertaken for a number of clients such as the Oxford Preservation Trust, Natural England, Oxford City Council, the Wildlife Trusts, the Woodland Trust and numerous local organisations concerned with preserving the environment.

Each work party is led by an experienced volunteer, who is responsible for liaising with the client and ensuring that the work is completed to the required standard. The work party leader also ensures that new volunteers understand the purpose of the work and have been shown how to use the tools safely. Note that we advise that anyone coming to an OCV event has an up to date tetanus vaccination.

We are always interested in taking on new projects. Maybe the OCV could work for you? See the Projects page to see what sort of work we do, or contact tasks@ocv.org.uk to discuss your individual requirements.

[Updates in red relate to temporary changes because of Covid-19, which take precedence over the original FAQ below.]

Are there any Covid measures at the moment?

  • Minibus windows will be kept open during travel to ensure good ventilation.

What kind of tasks do you carry out?

We do a wide variety of practical conservation work including hedgelaying, scrub management, step and revetment construction, woodland management, fencing, wetland management, stone-pitched culvert and ditch construction, pond maintenance, raised walkway construction, and dry-stone walling. See the Projects page for a more complete list and additional information.

Do I need to be a member to go on a task?

There is no requirement to become a member to come on OCV tasks. Anyone is welcome to come along. That said, joining OCV for a small £10 a year does provide a range of added benefits - see the membership page for more information. If you do wish to join, fill in a form when out on task or download one from here. You can also contact our membership secretary at membership@ocv.org.uk

Do I need to let anyone know in advance that I want to go on task?

No, just turn up at one of the pick-up points (outside The Lamb and Flag on St. Giles at 9:20am or opposite Tesco on Cowley Road at 9:30). We take a minibus of volunteers to the site each week. It's a very good idea to subscribe to the mailing list (and it absolutely doesn't commit you to anything). You'll receive a weekly email containing more detailed information about each conservation project. If you are coming in a group of five or more, please see below.

Pickup at the Lamb and Flag
Pickup opposite Tesco

Can I make my own way to the reserve?

Yes. The weekly email will include any special directions and the start time. Please try to arrive at the beginning of the day so that you don't miss the introductions and safety talk. If you do arrive late then please make yourself known to the task leader, so that they can brief you. Likewise if you decide to leave early then tell the leader first.

What should I bring with me?

  • Tough old clothes,
  • Stout boots or Wellingtons (trainers or similar are not appropriate),
  • Waterproofs,
  • Sun cream lotion,
  • A packed lunch and flask

What time do you finish?

We're usually back in Oxford for mini-bus drop-offs by 5.30pm at the latest, we may be back quite a bit earlier. Finish time depends a lot on the task, what the weather is like, and the time of year.

Do I need any experience?

No experience is needed, as the work party leader will demonstrate the safe use of any tools involved and also explain the significance of the work being carried out.

How hard is the work and how much will I be expected to do?

We have work for all abilities at the majority of our tasks. Volunteers will be free to work at their own pace, according to their own fitness and strength.

What else will I be expected of me?

We expect people to be prepared for the task with suitable clothing, footwear and packed lunch, and to follow any instructions from the work party leader or site warden, particularly regarding respecting other volunteers, safe working practices and use of PPE. For some activities PPE (eg. helmets, gloves, hi-vis) is compulsory. You can find full details in the Volunteer Policy in the OCV Policy Handbook

Can I bring my group?

If you are planning to come to a task in a group of five or more people, please contact us first. We will try to accommodate you if we can, but at some sites this is impossible, and in some cases you may need to bring your own transport and/or limit the size of the group. Please get in touch via enquiries@ocv.org.uk or use the phone number below.

Should I bring my own tools?

Most of the time you won't need to. It's usually fine to use your own unpowered hand tools if they are in good condition and suitable for the task, but please check with the task leader first. Please don't bring power tools such as chainsaws.

Does the group meet for any social activities?

We have business meetings on the first Tuesday of every month, and frequent social meetings. Check out the events page for more details.

What is the average age of volunteers?

We have regular volunteers 18-69.

What is the minimum age for volunteers?

Under-18s must be accompanied by a responsible adult, who undertakes to watch out for the young person's safety. The adult must be the young person's parent/guardian, or be someone known to the parent/guardian and acting with their knowledge and consent to take the young person to the task. Our recommended minimum age is 5 years. 18s and over can come unaccompanied, but may be asked for proof of age. You can find full details in the Child Protection Policy in the OCV Policy Handbook

Can I bring my dog?

Possibly. You should check with the leader during the week before the task. If the site is suitable, and your dog is well behaved, then the leader may permit it. If you've not been to the site before and/or have not met the leader before you may be asked to come on your own first. Dogs aren't permitted in the minibus, so you'll have to make your own way, and be willing to take your dog away if any volunteers are dog-phobic.

Do I have to come out every week?

No, it's entirely up to you how often you do work with us. Some volunteers only come out once a year, others nearly every week. All contributions are welcome.

How is the group organised?

The group is run by volunteers on the committee and volunteers who take turns leading and driving for tasks. If you would like to help then please come to a Tuesday meeting, or talk to the leader on a task.

What happens on the committee?

The two most recent OCV annual reports are available here OCV Annual Report 2022, OCV Annual Report 2021, with details of what the group did in the last couple of years. The constitution explains how the group is structured. We are a registered charity.

How is the group funded?

The group gets grants and donations from charitable organisations and individuals. We also get funding from the organisations we work for to cover our costs. See the partners page for more information. If you're interested in donating to OCV please contact enquiries@ocv.org.uk