Several years ago when I left school I did not know what I wanted to do. I did not live that far away from Gibside Estate and my brother had already volunteered there.
I liked the idea of being outdoors and in the woods so I decided to give it a go (they had quad bikes at the time to so that was a bonus). I started volunteering doing gardening and conservation and became interested in conservation. At first I wasn’t on any training schemes and I kept dipping in and out trying to get work in between.
Later on I went on to do my Forestry level 2 but unfortunately the funding wasn’t that great so I only got a few basic qualifications which later would prove useful for finding work. As I got older I got involved with The National Trust Inner City Project (ICP) where I became a Millennium Volunteer. Through the ICP I gained my basic Chainsaw certificate and learnt about the other opportunities they provided.
I then became a volunteer with the ICP helping out here and there; going out with groups young and old. This led to me being interested in outdoor activities, through the ICP I went climbing, abseiling, caving, canoeing, exploring other NT properties and the wider countryside as well as other fun activities. It wasn’t always easy or fun, sometimes it was boring and hard work but I think it was worth it from what I got out of it in terms of new experiences and skills which would later come in handy.
I managed to get various gardening jobs, working for local councils, hospitals, later on for the Police and other companies such as Trees Please. From volunteering with the National Trust I had gained skills and knowledge appropriate to this type of work. Trees Please required the use of a tractor and trailer as did all the gardening, I also had knowledge on how to use various hand tools and other machinery.
Soon after this, I got a contract working with the National Trust teaching conservation to New Deal clients in Northumberland, this was only a temporary contract but again because of my volunteering and support I’d got, it landed me the job.
At present I am currently working for the ICP employed as a youth worker. I take groups out to various National Trust properties and the countryside where we get involved in all kinds of stuff from helping out wardens doing conservation, fun days on the beach to bigger challenges such as four-day hikes and climbing mountains. All the things I used to do as a volunteer are now helping me in my career. Doing all this helped me to gain the skills, knowledge and confidence that I needed to help me through my life. Since being employed by the ICP I have gained an NVQ2 in youth work, I can now drive a mini bus and tow a trailer and soon I am to be assessed for my ML (Mountain Leader) which will enable me to take groups up more challenging mountains.
Dave Edgar, Youth Worker at The National Trust