Dorset's lead in the Big Society

Tuesday 19th October 2010

Dorset’s lead on environmental volunteering is being recognised, as the Government embraces the idea of ‘Big Society’.

On the day that the Cabinet Office published its strategy and consultation on how to build a ‘Big Society’ through community engagement, Dorset Wildlife Trust met Oliver Letwin, Minister of State at the Cabinet Office and the Government’s volunteering advisor.

Dorset Wildlife Trust’s chief executive, Simon Cripps, and volunteering programme manager, Steve Davis, met the Rt Hon Mr Letwin, MP for West Dorset, to discuss the need for government support for volunteering and community engagement. Simon Cripps said:

“Whilst cuts can be expected across the board, support is still needed by groups, such as Dorset Wildlife Trust, to enable them to continue cost effective volunteering and engagement programmes. The government needs to create a climate of philanthropy so that it is both easier and rewarding to support voluntary organisations. If communities are to become engaged and empowered, then a range of programmes will be needed. An example of this is the v volunteering initiative, which has brought huge opportunities, self-value and the chance of employment for many young people.”

Dorset Wildlife Trust has been awarded as a national beacon of excellence for youth volunteering and already works with thousands of volunteers across the county. Working with members and a wide range of groups, including the homeless, unemployed or those in recovery from drug or alcohol dependence or mental health problems has put Dorset Wildlife Trust at the forefront of progress in establishing links between the natural world and people’s health. In the MP’s West Dorset constituency, volunteers play a vital role in maintaining their local area, working with local landowners, on community projects such as Dorchester’s wildlife garden and on nature reserves, including West Bexington, Kingcombe Meadows and Powerstock Common.

Simon Cripps added: “Oliver Letwin has a pivotal role as both a Minister developing the strategy for community and voluntary groups and an MP in a county where environmental and social volunteering to fulfil local needs is so important.”

For more information about volunteering with Dorset Wildlife Trust, contact Steve Davis on 01202 642788 or visit


Story by Dorset Wildlife Trust
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Dorset Wildlife Trust

Dorset Wildlife Trust was founded in 1961 to protect the wildlife and natural habitats of the county and now has over 25,000 members and manages over 40 nature reserves. Most are open daily and there are visitor centres providing a wealth of wildlife information at Brooklands Farm, Lorton Meadows, Kingcombe Meadows and Brownsea Island Nature Reserves, The Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve and the Urban Wildlife Centre at Upton Heath Nature Reserve.

The largest voluntary nature conservation organisation in Dorset, Dorset Wildlife Trust plays a key role in dealing with local environmental issues. It leads the way in establishing the practices of sustainable development and engaging new audiences in conservation, particularly in the urban areas.