For the Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels team the health, safety and wellbeing of our volunteers, staff and the public is our highest priority as we follow the latest guidance from the Scottish Government in transitioning out of lockdown. We have issued the following information for SSRS volunteers in light of the most recent easing of restrictions.
Recognising that nature has an important role to play in both physical and mental wellbeing, outdoor volunteering can provide many positive benefits at this time. And so, where we are able to operate safely, we are pleased to offer opportunities for further outdoor volunteer work to recommence with us where new measures are in place.
Grey squirrel control volunteers
In June, we welcomed the return of Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels grey squirrel control staff and essential control volunteers to outdoor working who were able to work alone and apply social distancing measures in alignment with our new SSRS Covid-19 risk assessments for outdoor working.
Following the latest easing of restrictions, grey squirrel control volunteers are now able to travel outwith a 5 mile radius of home to conduct voluntary control work.
Trap-loan scheme & trap hosts
For those on the trap-loan scheme trapping on their own property and therefore able to abide by all Government guidelines as an independent unit, trapping can be resumed as normal.
For those participating in the trap-loan scheme in which dispatch involves another party, additional precaution will need to be taken. Before resuming activities, please contact your local Conservation Officer to discuss news ways of working and review our new risk assessment for outdoor volunteers.
Surveying & monitoring
The annual SSRS Spring Survey remains cancelled until its return in spring 2021, however we aim to restart supplementary squirrel monitoring activities once SSRS offices reopen. This will allow us to access the additional equipment and resources required for monitoring activities and have the ability to collect samples once more. Volunteers will be notified when measures are in place for this activity to recommence.
Face-to-face group events and meetings will remain postponed for the time being. SSRS have been supporting volunteer network groups across Scotland digitally throughout lockdown, and will continue to do so until further restrictions are eased.
New volunteers & volunteer training
We would like to thank everyone who has registered an interest in volunteering with us throughout lockdown for your patience. We have now created new procedures to accommodate the safe training of both new and existing volunteers adhering to social distancing guidelines. Those who have registered an interest will be contacted by a member of the SSRS team to discuss this further.
There are no obligations for volunteers to return to outdoor working and we continue to ask that people consider their own situation carefully and take into account personal and family risk levels before making any decisions. We value each and every volunteer and their contributions to our project, whether helping tackle invasive grey squirrels in the field or staying home and submitting local sightings through our website.
Our Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels offices remain closed for now, but we continue working from home and making progress in the field to protect red squirrels. We will continue to keep all of our volunteers fully informed of any changes to guidance. If you have any questions or concerns around outdoor volunteering at this time, please contact your local Community Engagement Officer, Conservation Officer, or contact us at email@example.com.