Chester Zoo has become the first zoo in the UK to be recognised with a prestigious award for its work with volunteers.
The nationally important Investors in Volunteers award was given to the UK’s most popular charity zoo after a 15-month-long consultation that confirmed the zoo’s value and commitment to its volunteers.
The award aims to improve the quality of the volunteering experience offered by organisations all around the UK and demonstrates how the contributions made by volunteers are valued.
Volunteer Manger at Chester Zoo, Lindsay Marston, said:
“As a major UK wildlife charity, the support we receive from our volunteers is invaluable. This award shows our current and future volunteers that we’re committed to ensuring they have the very best experience when they volunteer with us. We’re very proud to be the very first zoo in the UK to achieve this accolade.
“Our volunteers play a huge role in helping us to prevent extinction – from connecting visitors to the zoo by highlighting different species and the conservation actions we’re taking to protect them, to encouraging people to think about how they too can make a positive change for wildlife. Every conversation they have plays an important part of our mission.”
Typically, Chester Zoo welcomes more than 250 volunteers over the course of a year to support the charity through a range of roles. However, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, the zoo had to change the way it engaged and supported its volunteers.
Lindsay Marston, added:
“In the wake of the global pandemic we had to adapt the way we worked with volunteers and lots of our consultation work moved online. We introduced ‘micro-volunteering’, as it became apparent that a lot of our volunteers felt isolated and alone during lockdown. Even though we were closed, doing things like fact checking educational signage or creating spaces for wildlife at home helped them feel connected to Chester Zoo.
“Some of our volunteers are in their later years and, for them, volunteering is a huge part of their lives. We really recognise the mutual benefits that volunteering gives, so by keeping them engaged with other activities while the zoo had to close helped to make them feel motivated and valued.
“The team has been working up to this Investors in Volunteers achievement for almost 15 months, so we’re immensely proud to have received this accolade during one of the most challenging years that our charity zoo has every faced.
“We’re the first zoo in the UK to receive this award and we hope that it inspires other organisations who have volunteers to make their volunteering experience a fantastic one too.”
Denise Hayward, Chair of UKVF (the Awarding Body) said:
“UKVF is delighted to announce Chester Zoo‘s successful achievement of this award. They have demonstrated a real commitment to volunteering and proven that their volunteer management policies and procedures meet nationally recognised standards.” Those interested in volunteering at Chester Zoo should visit: www.chesterzoo.org/work-with-us/volunteer/