Essex Area Ramblers

At the heart of walking in Essex

Volunteer Newsletter

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


17 December 2018

Hello

I love this time of year: the migratory geese are on the move, the weather is crisp and the pub at the end of the walk is lovely and warm. I recently enjoyed just such a pleasant ramble with some wonderful members of our North and Mid Cheshire Area. We chatted constructively about what is working well and what is working less well in the Ramblers right now. I came away encouraged and with some helpful food for thought on a variety of topics, including the paramount importance of maintaining a mutually supportive and respectful dialogue between staff and volunteers. 

We are part of an amazing movement, full of passionate people who have come together to help  everyone to enjoy the beauties and benefits of the outdoors on foot, no matter who they are or where in Great Britain they live. On the 30 November we marked the day, 18 years ago, when the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (CRoW) came into force across England and Wales. You can find more information about CRoW in this newsletter. It is a brilliant reminder of what we can achieve together when we galvanise staff, volunteers, members and the general public, in support our cause.  

On the theme of teamwork, it was brilliant to meet recently with Kate Ashbrook (with her Open Spaces Society hat on), Crispin Truman, Fiona Howie and James Blake (CEOs of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Campaign for National Parks and Youth Hostel Association respectively). We toasted the formidable history of our organisations, which first joined forces in the 1930s, to campaign successfully for the establishment of national parks. We committed to meeting regularly, to explore shared opportunities around our common aim of connecting people with green spaces

This month has also seen us start to realise the huge potential of Don’t Lose Your Way as a major campaign, with some excellent coverage in the national media which you can read more about in this newsletter. If you have time, I would encourage you to read some of the 500+ comments which the article generated online. Paul Howland’s brilliant example made the campaign authentic and relevant and engaged readers emotionally in a way that the facts alone - such as the number of miles of public rights of way at risk (est.10,000 miles) and the 2026 cut off date - can never do.   

The trustees met earlier this month for their quarterly meeting and spent some time reviewing progress on our new data and digital transformation programme. Over a year ago the board approved a programme of scale and ambition, and this month they were able to see the insight hub in action and approve the plans for 2019. The excitement was palpable: the board were delighted to see the genuinely transformative results now starting to come through in terms of our improved business intelligence and the opportunities for growth which are emerging as a result. 

This month’s newsletter contains some requests for your support, especially in terms of asking you to take a few moments to write to your MP to support our crucial Your Path Awaits campaign, and to help us to reach all volunteers with the current Check In exercise. There is also a request for path maintenance volunteers to make contact with us and an update on the Government’s response to the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy Safety Review. And of course, there are thanks to those of you who are taking part in our fantastic Festival of Winter Walks which starts on 21 December.  

It remains for me to thank you, on behalf of the trustees and the staff team, for everything you have done for the Ramblers - and for walkers across Great Britain this year - and to send you very best wishes, of joy, love and peace, for the coming holiday season. 


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: December 2018 - Seasons Greetings and thank you. 

Your Path Awaits - please write to your MP to support this crucial campaign 

A view of a path down hills towards the seaAs you are aware, the Agriculture Bill has been making its way through Parliament and is set to go back to the House of Commons for a full debate of MPs over the coming weeks. We have been working to ensure that the Bill protects and enhances access to the countryside, and this latest debate gives us a new opportunity to push for changes to achieve this. We were pleased to see the first draft of the Bill recognise the importance of public access, but we believe that it can, and should, be more aspirational. Over the past month we have secured the support of two MPs, Caroline Lucas and Angela Smith, to table amendments which can strengthen the bill. You can find out more about the amendments which we have submitted. Now that the amendments have been tabled we need the support of as many MPs as possible. We know how busy you all our at this time of year but we would be grateful if you could spare a few minutes to write to your MP today and ask them to support a more ambitious Agriculture Bill that not only protects, but enhances, our access to the countryside.  If you have any questions on the Bill or on our campaign please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Clues in the landsacape: Ancient stiles, Rows of hedges, Cobbles in a river

Don’t Lose Your Way - please contact us if you would like to get involved or need support
 
“Walking with Howland is to see the British landscape through a fresh pair of eyes. Where I see walls of thorny bushes, he sees a double hedge hiding an ancient drovers’ path; where I see neat white posts at the entrance to someone’s drive, Howland sees a devious attempt to gull the public into believing they are on private land; most of all, where I see cul-de-sacs and dead ends, he spots opportunities to discover lost routes. He reads the landscape like a detective, building the physical elements into narratives of growth and change.”  

Our Don’t Lose Your Way project – focused on the restoration of historic paths – has been front page news this month in the Guardian, featuring one of our volunteers, Paul Howland. We believe that there are over 10,000 miles of historic paths missing from the map and many of our existing areas and group volunteers are already working on this important project. If you are not already involved, you can find out about our three steps to finding lost rights of way in your area by downloading our guide. If you think you have found a historic right of way and are not sure what to do next, or you would like to get involved in this project via your local area, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The Don’t Lose Your Way project is generously supported by Ramblers Holidays Charitable Trust and players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

 

 Path maintenance volunteers - please make contact with us

We know how vital path maintenance is and we want to improve our support for path maintenance volunteers. As we communicated in this newsletter last month, George Redmayne (one of our experienced delivery officers) is now leading a GB project on path maintenance. George will be working with volunteers to compile a comprehensive picture of our current path maintenance groups and activities, and how they are currently being supported by both local authorities and the Ramblers. We want to find better ways to celebrate and support the fantastic work being done, expand and develop our path maintenance activities, and explore the most effective ways of working in partnership with local authorities. For more information, or if your path maintenance team is facing immediate challenges, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 020 3961 3180.

 

Countryside Rights of Way Act - please join us in celebrating this amazing victory

18 years ago the Ramblers secured a major campaign victory for access in England and Wales, when the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (CRoW) came into force. On the 30 November 2000, the Act received Royal Assent and established in law the important principle that our wildest landscapes could be enjoyed by everyone.You can read more about those involved in our senior policy officer, Kate’s blog.  Since then, over three million acres of moorland, mountain heathland and downland have been opened up for walkers to explore. We celebrated this extraordinary campaign through our social media channels. You can look back through our images and stories on our Twitter page and share them with friends and colleagues. If you have any questions or wish to  share any further stories about CRoW, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

 

Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy - please note the results of this important review
 
The Government recently published its response to the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS) Safety Review, setting out a 50-point action plan to improve road safety for walkers and cyclists in England. The plan includes measures to review the Highway Code; encourage local authorities to invest in walking infrastructure and the intention to appoint a new Cycling and Walking Champion to raise the profile of active travel. Over the coming months, the Ramblers will be working with Government and with our partners in the Walking and Cycling Alliance, including the Bicycle Association, British Cycling, Cycling UK, Living Streets and Sustrans, to support the implementation of the plan. You can read the Government’s response. For more information about the CWIS, please contact Kate Conto, senior policy officer at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Volunteer Check In - please help us to reach all volunteers by joining our telephone tree…

As we have been communicating via this newsletter over the last few months, we need your help completing the Check In, so that we can offer better support, networking and opportunities to all our volunteers (e.g. walk leader training, first aid training and improved promotional support etc). Without contact details for volunteers, we can’t offer these opportunities or updates to you.   Thank you to everyone who has already Checked In. If you have not yet done so, please ensure your details are up to date by logging into your account at https://www.ramblers.org.uk/login and please continue to raise the Check In at your area and group meetings and AGMs and remind other volunteers to complete the Check In too. If you need any support in completing this vital exercise or you have any questions please contact  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or alternately you can call on 020 3961 3188.

 

Festival of Winter Walks - thank you for your support and please consider donating 

A group of people on a bridge beside a graphic of the Ramblers Festival of Winter Walks logoAs communicated in previous newsletters in our Festival of Winter Walks (from 21 December to 6 January), we’ve been sharing the stories of the many people impacted by social isolation whose lives have been transformed through walking with others. In our winter edition of Walk magazine, we heard from John who told us how walking with the Ramblers helped him at a very difficult time  “My wife died in 2004. Initially I kept myself busy with work, family and golf, but after I retired in 2010 I was diagnosed with depression. To help, one thing I did was walk to town and back, so I contacted Andover Ramblers and I did my first walk around Longparish and Harewood. I enjoyed the walk and felt a lot better for it and now I have a strong group of friends who I not only walk with but socialise with outside of the walks”

John’s story shows how important it is that we continue to help to connect people through walking. As many of us make plans to spend the festive period with loved ones, we are reminded that, for some, this time of year can be lonely and isolating. There is still time to get involved in the Festival this year: you can find out more about it, download the toolkit and Find a Walk. If you have any questions about getting involved please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. There is also still time to join the many kind and generous people who have already donated this Christmas: thank you for your continued support. Please donate £25 now to have a life changing impact on people’s lives. If you have any questions about donating, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  
 Donate now

 

Website incident - please remain vigilant  

As communicated in this newsletter last month, on 18 November the Ramblers’ website was down for a short period of time due to a ransomware incident. We continue to work with IT cyber security experts to investigate the incident. There is still no evidence that any personal information was extracted. As promised, we will provide a further 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.

 

Data transformation - please let us know if you would like to try the next version of the app
 
As previewed in the November newsletter, if you are a membership secretary you should have received details of how you can sign up for an insight hub account and received a ‘how to’ guide about the new membership secretaries dashboard and details of online training sessions. If you have not received these details or have any feedback please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. More training sessions will be available in January 2019 and we will also put in place on-going sessions to support you as we continue to develop the dashboard and review your feedback. The next iteration of the dashboard will be released in Spring 2019. The insight hub also hosts other dashboards which are available to all volunteers. You can find out more about the dashboards, and register for an account by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

As you know, we developed and piloted a mobile walk register app earlier this year.  Following the feedback version one (v1) was developed and has been tested by groups across GB. You can find more about the app and how to download and use it. Using your feedback, we are developing v2 which will be ready in February 2019. In addition to being able to register walks new features will include the ability to look up your group members, search for walks across GB and a mobile membership card.  If you would like to try out v2 of the app as soon as it arrives please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Ramblers Cymru - please share your stories of the Coast Path and overcoming loneliness with us    
  
The Wales Coast Path turns seven next year, and Ramblers Cymru have won the bid to deliver a seven day national walking event, following the Visit Wales 2019 theme 'Year of Discovery'. The activity will feature up to seven coastal walks in seven locations from North East to South East Wales, over the first three weekends in May.  More details will follow soon, but if you have any inspiring ideas for coastal walks of discovery – whether that's stories of pirates, geology, wildlife or history, then please get in touch with This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Ramblers Cymru has also just submitted a funding bid for a 3-year project under the Welsh Governments Enabling Natural Resources for Wellbeing fund. The proposed project focuses on increasing community-lead path maintenance activity and increasing the use of paths for health and wellbeing. Twenty of the twenty-two local authorities in Wales are signed up as partners. If successful, Ramblers Cymru will lead an exciting new approach linking local authorities, community councils, and residents to open up local routes and improve accessibility. The project will build on our Paths for People approach, which is currently being piloted in Powys. If you have any questions about this bid please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Welsh Government are currently asking for views on tackling loneliness and isolation in Wales. They want to hear about how charities and exercise can help. Ramblers Cymru will be submitting a response highlighting how support for walking groups is important in our communities. If you have any stories of the social benefits walking has brought to you and willing to share them with us, for our response, please get in touch on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Ramblers Scotland - please register for The Gathering 

A group of people outdoors in a fieldRamblers Scotland’s much-loved volunteer-run festival, The Gathering, will return from 3-6 May next year; this time in the beautiful Scottish Borders. Eildon Ramblers will host the 2019 festival in Melrose, a scenic town with easy access to the famous Eildon hills and other fine local walking areas. Registration costs £20 per person, and discount rooms are available at the festival hub, The Waverley Castle Hotel. To register, please visit The Gathering page on the Ramblers website. For more details, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
 
Wednesday, January 23, 2019