Essex Area Ramblers

At the heart of walking in Essex

Ramblers Volunteer Newsletter
Ramblers Volunteer Newsletter. Sent to: all active volunteers who have registered on the Ramblers website.


23 November 2018

Hello

I hope you have been enjoying the wonderful Autumn weather. The trees - and the fungi in our local woodland - seem to be putting on a particularly glorious show this year. On a more human scale, Autumn is definitely the season for conferences. Since I last wrote to you I have spent a fair bit of time in meetings, happily all of them on stimulating subjects, and the best of them on foot, walking and talking. One such meeting was a ramble and lunch with some of our Herts and North Middlesex volunteers, covering topics ranging from GDPR to cycling and path protection.

Whilst I am thinking about cycling, I also recently hosted the Department for Transport (DfT)’s Cycling and Walking advisory group meeting in our London office. Our new alliance with other walking and cycling charities seems to be bearing fruit as DfT have now announced that they are going to deliver one of our five coalition “asks”: to review the highway code. Last year 402 pedestrians were killed on the roads (a 5% rise in fatalities), so this review is great news for walkers and you can read more about it in this newsletter.

Continuing the active travel theme, I have also just attended the first meeting of a new London Walking Forum, convened by London’s Walking & Cycling Commissioner. We made a terrific start and agreed some tangible actions, including working together in the outer London boroughs and developing a compelling narrative about why walking is so wonderful! Our role within the active travel community is clear and valued by our partners: we are championing access to green spaces, leisure walking in nature, and protection of footpaths and other access rights.

I have also been able to join our Scottish and Welsh Committee Executive Councils at their quarterly meetings, held this time in Shrewsbury and Perth. It has been energising  to see and hear the progress that these Committees are making in both nations, especially in their aims to enhance support for area and group volunteers and to find new ways to become relevant to potential new members - through initiatives like the Welsh Cambrian Way project and the Fight for Scotland’s Nature partnership - both of which are covered in this month’s newsletter.

The Board Finance and Risk Board Committee (FRC) is also moving with pace, energy and ambition, not only to ensure we run our day-to-day business effectively and efficiently, but also to look at how we continue to develop and improve the way we do things.  This month, as well as approving the audit plan, accounts and risk register, FRC also explored how we could best invest our reserves in the future and approved a clearer and more strategic process for utilising our legal fund - which is a key tool for achieving our mission and recruiting new supporters to our cause.

This month’s newsletter includes an item on a recent website incident which I would like to draw to your attention. There are also articles on trustee recruitment and increased staff support for path maintenance, footpath protection and other public access rights work.  And this newsletter includes information about a significant new piece of quantitative research which we will be sending to over 65,000 of our members in the next few weeks. This online questionnaire will give us an invaluable insight into the needs, motivations, behaviours and activities of our current members and will help us to develop our brand promise and our membership offer.  If you receive a questionnaire we would be very grateful if you could complete it.

This month we are also seeking your involvement in Time To Talk Day next February. Organised by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, this day aims to encourage everyone to talk about mental health. It builds on our current Festival of Winter Walks theme and our support for the extraordinary new documentary Evelyn (as outlined in the October newsletter). Thank you to all of you who are running Ramblers walks after the screenings of this deeply powerful and moving film.  I joined the screening and Q&A session in Liverpool, and the video below includes a short interview with Gwennie Einsiedel, Evelyn’s sister, and Pat Sullivan of our Liverpool group – with sincere thanks to them both.

Kindest regards,

Vanessa Griffiths, chief executive officer
Phone: 020 3961 3300
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Twitter: @RamblerVan


VIDEO: November 2018 - Evelyn - the power of walking and talking

Note: To view click on the picture. Alternatively, you can watch the video here.

Website - please note this incident and remain vigilant

As you may be aware, last Sunday 18 November the Ramblers’ website was down for a short period of time.  We can confirm that this was as a result of a ransomware incident.

As soon as we became aware of the incident we took action including taking the affected server offline. Since then, the necessary steps have been taken to secure our website, which is now running as normal. We are working with IT cyber security experts to investigate the incident and at this stage there is no evidence that any personal information has been extracted.  However, as a precautionary measure, we were keen to let you know of the incident in case members raise it with you. The forensic investigation is ongoing and at this time we are advising people to be extra vigilant. We take matters of IT security extremely seriously and continue to prioritise and invest in the security of our systems as well as our IT infrastructure as a whole. We are very sorry for any inconvenience caused. We will provide an update once the investigation has concluded.  In the interim, if you have any questions or concerns, in respect of this incident, please contact our data protection officer, Felix Wilkey on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 020 3961 3254 and he will be happy to help.


#YouMadeItHappen - thank you and please nominate your colleagues for an award

A group of people outdoors, wearing high-vis tops and holding toolsOn the 19 November, we joined charities across the country to celebrate #YouMadeItHappen day. This was a great opportunity to remind the general public about what the Ramblers do, and to show our gratitude to you - our volunteers. During the day we posted some lovely stories about the work which you undertake to ensure that more people can discover the joy of walking. You can see the videos and interviews with Ramblers volunteers by searching for #YouMadeItHappen on our social media channels. We also run our own Ramblers award scheme, so if you think one of your fellow volunteers should be recognised then please nominate them on the Ramblers website. If you have any questions, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Board vacancies - please consider applying to become a trustee

As some of our current trustees come to the end of their terms next April, we are looking for new trustees to help our charity grow and develop. Our trustees act on behalf of all members to steer the Ramblers and secure its future. Anyone who is a Ramblers member and has been with us for at least a year can apply to be a trustee. We are looking for people who understand our values, are willing to share their insights and can bring a fresh perspective to the board. This coming year, as well as seeking to ensure we have geographical balance across the whole of the country, we’d also particularly welcome walkers with a background or interest in change-management or organisational development, or with legal expertise. The deadline for applications is 2 March 2019. For further information and a nomination form please visit www.ramblers.org.uk/trustees2019 and if you have any questions or would like to discuss the role, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Local advocacy and path maintenance - please note the new staff support

Following your feedback, we are developing how we support volunteers to take action on issues affecting Public Rights of Way (PROW) and our access to the countryside. We want to better celebrate the huge amount of work that is already happening to protect rights of way locally, grow path maintenance, share good practice between areas, and provide a package of support that helps volunteers to respond to threats to the footpath network and other public access rights, such as local authority funding cuts.

There are two new areas of support. Firstly, we have asked George Redmayne (one of our staff delivery officers) to develop his role to focus on path maintenance work and on work with areas and groups to support your work with local authorities. Secondly, we will shortly advertise for two new members of staff to lead on PROW work: a local advocacy manager and a local advocacy and casework officer. Their first task will be to work directly with you as volunteers and with local authorities to understand what’s needed – whether it’s new guidance or training, better systems (such as a redeveloped Pathwatch tool), or support to make a strong case for the personal and social benefits of a well-maintained footpath network. Full details of the new roles will be posted on the Ramblers website. Once the roles are live, please do share them with anyone who you think may be interested in applying.

For more information on the new local advocacy roles, please contact Gemma Cantelo, head of policy and advocacy on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For more on our path maintenance work, contact George Redmayne, delivery officer, by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Insight research - please look out for your invitation to take part in the online survey

Of all the things we ‘could’ do, there are some that we ‘must’ do, to return our membership to growth.  We need to underpin our plans with robust, evidence-based insight, which will help us to prioritise our resources, focus our efforts and maximise our impact. We are currently undertaking research to help us to understand what walkers need from us and explore their interests, preferences, behaviours, motivations and types of walking. Through this research we will also gain evidence about what walkers think of our brand and what we need to do to encourage them to embrace our cause.

Insights will be gathered from a number of sources including online surveys and focus groups. We are conducting this research both with our own 100,000 members and supporters, and also with some of the 9 million walkers across Great Britain who don’t yet walk with or support us. We look forward to sharing these findings with you in 2019. Stage one is an online survey which will be sent to many of our existing members and supporters over the coming month, so please keep your eyes peeled for your email invitation to take part and share your views. If you have any questions about this research please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

Review of the Highway Code - please watch this space for updates over the coming months

We are delighted that the Government has just announced a review of the Highway Code to make roads safer for walkers and cyclists. This announcement follows calls from the Ramblers and our partner organisations in the Walking and Cycling Alliance for the Government to take 5 priority actions to make our roads safer for walkers and cyclists. These actions include revising the highway code to improve safety; improving design standards; ending pavement parking; lowering default speed limits; and embedding a culture of walking and cycling in the school curriculum. These priority actions are set out in our ‘Moving the Nation’ manifesto. We will keep you updated as we learn more. If you are interested in this review or have any questions please contact Kate Conto, senior policy officer on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

The Budget - please note the impact on walkers and our walking environment

In his autumn Budget, Philip Hammond committed to investing nearly £30 billion into England’s roads, most of it to upgrade major roads and motorways. It would seem that whilst Government documents refer to getting more people walking and cycling, the Budget statement focused more on potholes than pedestrians. As we wrote in our letter to the Guardian: this can’t be right. To combat childhood obesity and climate change, and improve air quality, and physical and mental health, we need to make walking the easy choice and invest in creating high-quality, well-connected, accessible networks of paths and green spaces. That means a financial commitment on a scale proportionate to our investment in roads. You can read more on this topic in this Budget blog from Gemma Cantelo, our head of policy and advocacy. Gemma can be contacted on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Agriculture Bill - please let us know if you have any examples of best practice in this area

Your path awaits logo in front of a photo of the woodsAs the Agriculture Bill moves through the UK Parliament, we continue to push for measures that help to protect and enhance our public rights of way. We have submitted written evidence to the Bill Committee - the small group of MPs scrutinising the proposed new rules. The full House of Commons will debate the Bill again towards the end of the year which gives us a further opportunity to push for changes to the legislation.

One of our key messages is around the importance of providing financial assistance to farmers and land managers who enhance public access, where this is in the public interest. Do you have an example of a local farmer or landowner who has gone over and above their legal requirements by creating and improving paths and access? This could include examples where landowners have improved access for people who are less mobile, or created new circular routes which help to encourage more people to walk (perhaps as a result of previous permissive access agreements). If so, we would love to hear from you. You can contact us by emailing Stephen Russell, policy and advocacy officer, on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Time to Talk Day - please let us know if you would like to get involved

time to change, time to talk dayAs mentioned in this newsletter last month, this Autumn and Winter we are highlighting the positive impact which walking - and especially walking in green spaces and being in contact with nature - has on our mental health and wellbeing. It is a theme that was highlighted in our support for the film Evelyn and one which we will continue to highlight during our Festival of Winter Walks and in the forthcoming edition of Walk magazine.time to change, time to talk day. As mentioned in this newsletter last month, this Autumn and Winter we are highlighting the positive impact which walking - and especially walking in green spaces and being in contact with nature - has on our mental health and wellbeing. It is a theme that was highlighted in our support for the film Evelyn and one which we will continue to highlight during our Festival of Winter Walks and in the forthcoming edition of Walk magazine. Time to Talk Day is organised by Time to Change, the anti-stigma campaign run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness. It is a day when everyone is encouraged to talk about mental health. Too many people with mental health problems can feel isolated and ashamed: by talking more openly about this important topic, we can help to change this situation.

The Ramblers will be partnering with Time to Change for Time to Talk Day on 7 February 2019, to highlight the significant benefits of walking and talking about mental health. We would like to invite you to get involved in the week of Saturday 2 February to Sunday 10 February. If you are already attending or leading a group walk during this week, please can you consider starting a conversation about mental health and sharing what you’re doing with us as part of Time to Talk Day. We will create a short guide with tips on walking and talking about mental health, as well as images and text that you can use on your social media and other channels. We will send these to you in January.

Also, if you have a story you would like to share with us about how walking with the Ramblers has benefited your mental health or that of other members of your group or area, please let us know. We would love to share your stories to inspire others. If you have any stories to share or you are interested in being involved in Time to Talk Day, please email Tanne Spielman, communications manager on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and express your interest. Thank you.

Walk magazine - please note the donation ask in the latest edition   
 
As part of this year’s Festival of Winter Walks campaign, focusing on loneliness, we will be including a donation ask as part of the current Walk magazine cover letter in England and Wales. This marks a vital first step of our revitalised fundraising strategy, to support our work to help everyone to find their feet and enjoy the outdoors on foot. Over the coming months we will be engaging with you, with our members and with the wider public as part of a series of appeals and initiatives aimed at growing our community and increasing our impact. We appreciate your support as we work to deliver a sustainable future for the Ramblers. If you have any questions, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Designated Landscapes - please consider responding to this key Government review

A path made of grass, up through ferns and past a stone wallThe Government has launched a review of England’s protected landscapes to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. We will be submitting a response on behalf of Ramblers. You can find out more about the review - and how you can feed into our draft response - on our website. The review panel would also like to hear from individuals about why our protected landscapes are special to you and whether there are particular issues affecting your local National Park or Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).To respond as an individual please go to consult.defra.gov.uk/land-use/landscapes-review-call-for-evidence/ and fill in the online questionnaire. We would love to hear your views as well so if you do contribute, please send a copy of your response to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. If you have any queries about the review, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Area and groups budgets - please send your returns and be aware of Unity Bank charges  

Area and group budgets were approved by the Finance and Risk Committee and ratified by the Board in September. The appeal process has now closed and the results of the (three) appeals will be communicated to the relevant area treasurers. The finance team are now preparing the accounts for the year-end and audit. The deadline for area and group annual returns to central office was the 5 November. Thank you to all treasurers who have already sent their returns and we would be grateful if those areas and groups who have not yet submitted returns could do so as soon as possible.

As communicated to area and group treasurers in August, from 4 September this year, Unity Bank are charging for depositing cash and cheques at the following rate: cash paid in at 50p per £100, cheques paid in (including Freepost cheques) at 30p per cheque.  The finance team continues to recommend that - wherever possible and practical - areas and groups organising regular socials, holidays and day trips and receiving payment by cash or cheque, request that these payments are made electronically so that no bank charges are incurred.  We will be reviewing our banking arrangements centrally early next year and updating the treasurer’s guidance as soon as possible.  If you need any support please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Don’t Lose Your Way - please note this progress and funding update on a key project

A narrow path winding through grassesStage one of Don’t Lose Your Way - our key project focused on recording historical rights of way before the 2026 cut-off date - is coming to end this month. This stage has been centred on scoping what the Ramblers will do, to support you as our volunteers, so that we make the most of this valuable opportunity to expand where we can walk. A volunteer advisory group, comprising eleven volunteers and chaired by a Ramblers trustee, has been crucial in informing our proposals for the future of this important project and we are grateful for their help and expertise. We are delighted to be able to report that we have now secured funding to continue the project and as we move into 2019 we will start implementing these proposals. More information about the project, and about the work that the volunteer advisory group undertook can be found on the Ramblers website.  If you have any questions about the project, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Summer festivals - please note how we will support festivals in 2019

Thank you to everyone who took part in our Walk About summer festival in 2018 and thanks also to those of you who helped to capture learning and ideas for the future. As a result of your feedback and following a period of reflection and discussion with the Board, we have decided that the Ramblers will not be delivering a large, centrally led, summer Walk About festival in 2019. Whilst Walk About delivered some terrific events and profile for the Ramblers, we are aware that we need to prioritise our resources, and it has become clear through running Walk About in 2016, and again in 2018, that many of you already run or support - and will continue to run or support – brilliant local and regional festivals - which work well for your own area and/or group. If you want to run or to support a local festival or event, we will continue to ensure there is some central support available to you in 2019. We want to say a special thank you to the festivals volunteer advisory group for their work to shape and support the evaluation of Walk About and who helped to produce a refreshed festival toolkit, with some great tips and case studies, which you can download from the Ramblers website.The staff delivery team (James, Becky and George) will also continue to answer general questions about festivals and events, they can be contacted on 020 3961 3180 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Walking for Health - please note this update on the future of this programme

Three older women walking in an urban locationAs you are aware, since the Walking for Health programme’s grant funding from Macmillan ended in March 2018, the Ramblers have been using project funding provided by the players of the People’s Postcode Lottery, along with some residual Macmillan funds, to keep the programme running until December of this year, whilst we continue to explore different ways in which we can integrate and sustain this valuable programme beyond the end of 2018. We are able to continue to use existing resources to extend most of the programme delivery, at the current level, until at least the end of March 2019. As continuation of the programme after March 2019 will remain dependent on external funding, our fundraising team are currently redoubling our efforts in this area. The area support team have also started talking to some areas about working more closely with their local Walking for Health schemes and vice versa, and more detailed information on how best to do this will be shared with area committees soon. If you would like to know more please contact Richard and Diane in the area support team on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone on 020 3961 3180.

Membership secretaries dashboard - please note that the phased roll-out is now live

As reported in previous newsletters we have been piloting a new dashboard report with a selection of area and group membership secretaries via the Ramblers Insight Hub. The dashboard provides up-to-date information on membership records for communication purposes as well as providing membership secretaries with a tool to update members’ details. Using valuable feedback from the test pilot, version one of the dashboard has been developed and is currently being rolled out to all area and group membership secretaries across Great Britain. This roll-out is taking place in six phases and will be completed by the second week of December. If you are a membership secretary and have not yet been invited to take part, this is because your area is a scheduled for one of the later phases of the roll out. Online training is being offered to all membership secretaries as part of this roll-out and you will receive an invitation to book a session, instructions on how to sign up for an account, and a training ‘how to’ guide. If you have any queries, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Data transformation - please consider trying the walk register app and Insight Hub

The pilot Ramblers walk register app is now available to all groups and areas and you can download the app from the Apple store or Google Play. With the pilot app any member can register members and non-members on walks, by either scanning the QR code on members cards or inputting their details manually. As reported in the October newsletter, the pilot is showing that 12-13% of led walkers are non-members. This is more than we hoped, and the membership team are currently drawing up plans to test ways of converting them to members. Please note that we plan to provide this information to the groups in early 2019 through the membership secretaries dashboard. 

We are creating new dashboards to provide staff and volunteers with data and intelligence to support you in your roles. You can read an introduction to the Insight Hub. If you are using the walk register app you can see the information about your group and other groups taking part, via the walking folder. Pathwatch data and volunteering data is also available on the Hub. If you would like access to the Insight Hub or have any questions about the walk register app please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

GDPR - please note this latest update on email consent

We are still receiving a few questions from area and group volunteers about whether we could increase our number of email opt-ins if we offered members a ‘local group’ only email consent, which would enable members to receive local group emails but no central emails. This is simply not possible at the moment as we do not have the technological systems in place to tell us whether a member wants local content but not central content (or vice versa or both), or crucially, to integrate this consent with our volunteers, our staff and our email systems. We don’t yet have a central content management system in place in which content is “tagged” in such a way to enable this: e.g. x is a group piece of content, y is a national piece, z is of general interest to walkers and so on. Adding a tick box to our consent forms is easy - it’s all the data work which this requires underneath the surface, to ensure a person gets what they opted-into that is our challenge - and we cannot give members this option without being able to confidently fulfil it...

At the heart of our growth strategy is the desire to be relevant to all our supporters, so we are committed to resolving this issue over the next few years.  As we continue to implement our new data and digital capabilities we will have the opportunity to improve our consent landscape and align it with our growth strategy. The ultimate goal is that we will have a supporter consent platform which enables us to communicate with our supporters as an influential national campaigning charity and via local areas/groups - whilst respecting individual interests. So, when the time is right, which will  probably be around Easter next year, we intend to explore all the consent options that a new communications system will enable, and work out the best way to achieve the balance outlined above.  As usual, we will seek our volunteers and members views as part of this process. If you have any constructive feedback on this topic in the interim period, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Volunteer Check In - please ensure you have updated your account details

In our last newsletter we let you know that the Check In was now open for you to review your details. If you have not yet received your email prompt you can log into your Ramblers website account and update your details, so that we can ensure you are receiving relevant support and information in the future. For example, we will be able to engage our walk leaders in a dialogue about what training you need if we have a clear understanding of who all our walk leaders are. It would be great if you could also raise this Check In at your area and group meetings and remind other volunteers to complete the Check In too.  At your next meeting it would also be helpful if you could take your iPad/tablet/laptop and help other volunteers to complete the Check In. If you need any help completing this vital exercise please contact the Volunteer Check In co-ordinator, Cleo, on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 020 3961 3188.

Welcoming new walkers - please let us know if you have any great case studies

A man wearing a high-vis top, walking and talking with walkers as they cross a bridge If you regularly walk with Ramblers groups, can you remember your first walk? If so, can you remember the way you were treated and whether your fellow walkers were welcoming? Starting something new can be daunting and we want new walkers to feel welcome, not only to boost support for our cause, but also to help us to reach all kinds of people and to ensure our walks are fun and friendly for everyone. Recently someone in a group was less than welcoming towards a new person. That new person won’t be coming back and may well tell their friends about their bad experience.  We know that majority of our groups apply the Ramblers’ values of being welcoming and positive and we thank all of you who regularly lead by example, and who welcome and encourage new walkers, so that incidents like the one mentioned above will continue to be few and far between. If you have any questions or have good examples of being a particularly welcoming group or area, we would love to hear from you, please email George, James and Becky in the delivery team on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 020 3961 3180.

Ramblers Scotland - please note the launch of the “Fight for Scotland’s Nature” campaign  

Ramblers Scotland is among a coalition of 35 charities who launched the new 'Fight for Scotland's Nature' campaign this month. With 80% of Scotland's environmental protections coming from the European Union, we are calling for the creation of a Scottish Environment Act to safeguard the nature and landscapes in which we love to walk. Walking contributes £1.26 billion annually and the number of people walking is up 13% in six years, so as well as protecting wildlife & habitats, the new Act would also help support our economy and the health and wellbeing of future generations. Find out more at www.fightforscotlandsnature.scot, on the BBC website or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Ramblers Cymru - please note progress on the Cambrian Way and new newsletter

A waymarking of the Cambrian way in front of a valley viewWithin the last month we have made great progress on the Cambrian Way project - all of Torfaen County Borough Council is now waymarked, along with Carmarthenshire (outside of the National Park), and work has begun in Ceredigion too. This would not have been possible without the help of the countryside teams from the relevant local councils, and our own amazing Cambrian Way volunteers. Ramblers members from Lampeter have been getting involved with surveying and erecting the waymarks and are keen to continue this work into the future.

We’d are also delighted to let you know that Ramblers Cymru will now be sending out a quarterly newsletter. The first one went out in October, which is available to read online. We are hoping to make the next edition, which will go out in January 2019, bilingual. If you have any questions, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Monday, December 10, 2018