COVID-19: Weathering the storm

It’s been three weeks since the Coronavirus really started to take hold of our lives, but it many ways it feels like an eternity.

As a Trust, we are so lucky to have passionate people supporting us in abundance. They have nature and wildlife etched into their souls; they work, volunteer and share their passion on social media – because they share our vision for a wilder future.

The most heart-wrenching part of this process has been to send these people away.

We have had to stop all of our volunteering, which for many is such a lifeline of social contact. Not only that, they are our warriors every day, a silent (or rather very chatty!) army who give their time, passion and energy to helping us look after local wildlife. In all weathers, all seasons and with little resource.

Volunteer Day at Brockholes

Volunteers at Brockholes Nature Reserve

And then we have our staff team, who are usually described as ‘part employee, part volunteer’. How incredible to be part of an organisation where your staff are so engaged - the biggest challenge is making sure they stop working and get enough rest.

Nearly 50 per cent of our staff are now furloughed, and do you know how many asked us if they could still volunteer? Nearly 50 per cent! Of course, they cannot due to the rules of furlough, but the Trust could not afford to pay over the 80 per cent government grant and yet they are still ready and waiting to help.

Those staff not on furlough are working extra hard to keep our charity going, and to keep protecting the wildlife and nature we are here for. Many of our staff have loved ones on the front line and the emotion of this can take its toll. We are pulling together as an LWT family to support each other and hold on for brighter days.

A patch of bright yellow cowslips standing out against green grass

Cowslips by Guy Edwardes/2020VISION

We are not a cash-rich Trust, and we do not have the resilience to survive this long term. We have had to close many of our income streams; we are not able to recruit new members other than online, which is a handful at most. We aren’t able to deliver the contracts we fought so hard to win. Our Visitor Centres and car parks are closed: an essential income source to fund the conservation work in those areas. We have worked tirelessly for so many years building up these income streams to make our charity more resilient, and they have been turned off, like a tap, overnight.

We know that some of our sister Trusts are in a critical state, in particular those who rely heavily on tourism for their income.

We are still here, and we are still fighting to put nature into recovery. Our only hope is that this situation will create a deeper connection between people and wildlife, as they have time to slow down and use their daily exercise to seek the solace of nature. We hope more people realise that nature is not a luxury, it is a necessity. To our health and wellbeing, to the food we eat, the air we breathe and to our economy, to name just a few.

Those staff remaining are teaming up to bring you a stream of ways to engage online, and to ensure we continue to be a force for nature. We will let you know more about this soon, but in the meantime please do connect with us on social media, as we are working hard to keep nature at the forefront and keep in touch with all of our supporters.

If you are a member of your local Wildlife Trust, please don’t leave us now. Membership donations are our saving grace in this and are allowing us to continue to be there for wildlife, however we can. Wildlife really does need you now more than ever.

We will continue to fight to bring our charity through the other side of this, so we can all help put nature into recovery, together.

Help us continue caring for wildlife

Your support is more vital than ever.

Protect the wildlife you love

David Tipling/2020VISION