FAQ

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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 task 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 task 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 task 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 to discuss your individual requirements.

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

What changes will I notice now that work has restarted?

  • No minibus pickups. The programme will adjusted to include more local tasks. We recommend that you walk, cycle or drive and don't use public transport and don't share lifts with people outside your household. There might be some tasks further away where cycling or driving is the only option. If you are cycling a long way it's obviously fine to arrive late and leave early. Please park cars legally and show consideration for locals.
  • Maintain 2m distancing at all times. This will apply to leader, driver and everyone except volunteers from the same household. We're adjusting work plans to avoid projects where people need to work close together.
  • No tea, coffee or other refreshments, so bring your own. Please don't bring anything to share with people outside of your own household. We will have extra drinking water for hot days but please bring your own container to refill.
  • Clean tool handles with disinfectant spray before and after you use them. We'll have the spray.
  • Clean your hands regularly and certainly before eating or touching your face. We won't be passing round hand sanitiser and we will have limited supplies of wet wipes, so please bring your own.
  • No young children - sorry! Young children may not be able to follow all the rules. Older children or teenagers may take part but must be accompanied by an over-18 to supervise them as normal.
  • Restricted numbers. We might ask people to tell us they are coming in advance, so we can ensure we don't have too many people for the tools or space on site. The task email will give details.
  • Face coverings are recommended, but will not be compulsory.

Can I come if I'm unwell with Covid-19 symptoms?

Please follow the instruction to stay at home if you or members of your household are showing symptoms of the disease.

What if I'm in a high risk group for Covid-19?

We recommend you do not take part if you are in one of the groups at high risk. However, we won't ask about your medical history or your age (other than to check you are over 18!)

Will I be safe from Covid-19 on a task?

It is thought that the risk of passing on the Covid-19 infection outdoors is relatively low, and we aim to reduce the risk still further with our measures, but there is still a great deal of uncertainty and we can't say it carries zero risk.

Is this allowed by the rules?

It is our understanding that going out to do any kind of volunteer work is a reasonable excuse to leave home.

In the unlikely event of being challenged, we recommend saying you are doing volunteer work that can't be done from home, and not that you are going to exercise or for recreation. Conservation volunteering can be good exercise, but this is not the main purpose, and there are more restrictions on exercise and recreation.

What if I don't think it's safe to attend?

We completely understand. There will be still be lots of conservation work to do after the pandemic is over.

Will there be any social events after tasks?

There will not be any social activities after the task, and we ask you not to propose any. There will only be online socials for the time being.

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 £5 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 .

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. If you sign up to our mailing list you will receive more detailed information about each conservation project in our weekly email. 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, but it's normally a good idea to contact the task leader just in case there has been a change to the planned work. The weekly email will include the task leader's phone number and any special directions, and should also indicate 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 usually appropriate),
  • Waterproofs,
  • Sun-tan lotion,
  • A packed lunch (We provide tea, coffee and biscuits).

What time do you finish?

We normally aim to be back in Oxford for 5.30pm but it depends on the task, what the weather is like, and the time of year.

Do I need any experience?

No experience is needed, as the task 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.

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 or use the phone number below.

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.

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 2020, OCV Annual Report 2019 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. We also get funding from the organisations we work for to cover our costs. See the partners page for more information.

What next?

It's a very good idea to subscribe to the mailing list (and it absolutely doesn't commit you to anything). We send out an email each week describing the conservation project about the task that Sunday (and occasionally Saturdays as well) and details of the socials. To subscribe go to the Mailing List page. You can also look at the events page to see more about the upcoming events. If you want to speak to someone about Oxford Conservation Volunteers then you can ring Tim on 07909 957344 or email