Published: 4th JANUARY 2022

How volunteers in Scotland are making a difference in minutes

We're often told that it's the little things in life that really matter. Laura White, Network Engagement Coordinator, tells us how small actions from volunteers are having a big impact on the National Cycle Network. And why hundreds of people across Scotland are giving their time to make a difference.

Two volunteers with litterpickers approach a discarded tin can along a traffic-free National Cycle Network path in Ayrshire.

Nearly 100 volunteers in Scotland pledged 20 minutes to clean up over 600 miles of traffic-free paths. Credit: John Linton/ߣߣƵ

Small actions keep the Network beautiful

Throughout the pandemic, I've seen our amazing volunteers prove that many people taking small actions can have a huge combined impact.

In May 2021, ߣߣƵ Scotland partnered with for their Summer Clean pledge.

People pledged just 20 minutes of their time to litter pick a mile of local National Cycle Network (the Network).

Our target was to clean up 500 miles during the three-week campaign.

In the end, nearly 100 people pledged their time and they cleaned 600 miles of Network routes across Scotland.

Volunteers told me that the motivation which the Summer Clean gave them to get out on the Network, even for a short time, really helped their mental health.

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It was great for me personally. With working from home, I think I barely got out of the house that week. But I put it in my diary and it gave me an excuse to get out. It was such a nice day, just two hours, but I think my whole week was better because of it. Blockquote quotation marks
Matt – Summer Clean pledge volunteer
A young person, wearing an orange hi-vis vest, uses a graffiti removal wipe to clean an interpretation board along a traffic-free shared used path in Edinburgh.

All of our volunteers in Scotland make a difference. This young person in Edinburgh gave their time to remove graffiti. Credit: Laura White/ߣߣƵ

Small actions inspire continued volunteering

Many of our Summer Clean pledgers have continued to give their time to the National Cycle Network in Scotland.

And as they've become more involved in ߣߣƵ volunteering projects, I've seen them develop new skills.

One volunteer who originally pledged 20 minutes during the summer went on to join our autumn barrier audit.

This project trained 40 volunteers across Scotland to survey, assess and record barriers along the Network.

Across a two month period, volunteers surveyed 267 miles of Scotland’s traffic-free routes and recorded information on over 1,600 barriers.

The information these volunteers gathered is now helping our Network Development Team and their partners to remove or redesign barriers which are preventing many people from walking, wheeling and cycling on the paths.

Volunteers are enabling us to create paths which are for everyone.

And this vital work simply wouldn’t be possible without them.

A reusable 2 Minute Clean Up bag, filled with litter, is pictured on the towpath alongside the Union Canal in Edinburgh.

A two minute litter pick is a great way to make a difference while walking, wheeling or cycling. Credit: Laura White/ߣߣƵ

Staying in touch brings exciting opportunities

We want to give everyone the opportunity to care for the Network in ways which best suit them.

Following the popularity of the Summer Clean, we created Quick ways to volunteer in Scotland.

Here you can find lots of ideas for how you can make a difference to the Network in just a couple of minutes.

You can also sign up for updates on how you can become more involved in our work across Scotland.

Many people choose to take on our task of the month along their local routes.

One such small task is a two minute litter pick along the traffic-free paths.

This ties in with Clean Up Scotland’s #2minutecleanup campaign.

Anyone in Scotland can request a handy reusable bag, which is designed to be filled while out on a walk, wheel or cycle.

Other small tasks include sweeping leaves and cleaning away graffiti.

Some volunteers have decided to get creative by designing and painting new looks for Millennium Mileposts along their local paths.

Whilst others have joined one of our bird identification courses, or taken part in a wildflower meadow scything session.

There are so many opportunities, once you sign up to stay in touch with us.

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Offering people flexibility is key to volunteering. Through the quick ways to volunteer page, you can sign up to hear about future volunteering opportunities and then choose which ones you'd like to get involved in. Blockquote quotation marks
Laura White, Network Engagement Coordinator (Volunteering)
A volunteer raises a set of binoculars to their face during a bird identification session along a traffic-free route of the National Cycle Network.

Taking part in a bird identification session is a great way to learn about wildlife on the Network. Credit: Laura White/ߣߣƵ

Huge thanks for all support, big and small

No matter how big or small tasks are, everything our volunteers in Scotland do has a positive impact on the National Cycle Network, local wildlife and neighbouring communities.

A huge thank you from me, goes to all our volunteers in Scotland for their amazing work.

And I look forward to working with many more in the future.

Together, we can create a National Cycle Network for everyone.

Discover quick ways to volunteer in Scotland and sign up to hear more about volunteering.

If you are a community group who volunteer on the Network in Scotland, consider applying for a Love Your Network grant for equipment and training.

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