21 April 2022

Meet the Volunteers of Bromley

Yesterday was Volunteer Recognition Day, which celebrates people within communities who dedicate their own time to volunteering. Volunteering opportunities are available for a range of roles and skillsets, such as helping out at local animal shelters, fundraising, coaching, recycling and wildlife conservation.

As part of idverde’s partnership with the RSPB, our advisors work with local community volunteer groups that are focused on helping the environment. One area where this takes place is in Bromley, working with groups such as Friends Of Hayes Common and Bromley Countryside Volunteers.

Both of these groups work hard to restore habitats and improve areas to benefit the local community. The main project Friends of Hayes Common has been working on is restoring Hayes Common back to its original state. Around 100 years ago, the area was heathland. Lowland heathland is one of the rarest habitats and in the last 200 years, over 75% of it has been lost. To restore and preserve this habitat, human intervention is needed. The habitat is home to rare species including reptiles, birds and insects that would benefit from the expansion of heath in Hayes Common.

brom pic 2-2

Speaking to two of the original committee members and chairmen of the group, Keith and Elizabeth, we heard more about why they formed the Friends Of Group. Elizabeth says: “I retired and the local councillor asked me what I was going to do. I said I would really like to be a conservator of the common”

Determined to help the common and with the help of the councillor, a meeting was arranged at the Hayes Village hall and those interested in joining attended. Keith says: “When we started we had a committee of seven people. Over the next 15 years, we gradually built it up to 10 to 15 people. We are now getting work parties of 25 to 30 people regularly.”

Keith understands the importance of volunteer groups within communities, saying: “I think this is extremely important because the reason we were set up was because Bromley council did not have the finance available to manage the common in any serious management way at all. For 30 years before we were set up, virtually nothing of any maintenance or work had been done on the common.”

Elizabeth continues: “People weren’t using the common because people didn’t feel safe. Since lockdown, so many people have come up to me and said ‘wow I never realised the common was so large’. A lot of new people moving into Hayes are suddenly discovering the common and we’ve had nothing but good comments.”

Keith says: “there are many years of work ahead of us just to take out all of the invasive Holly. It’s a question of continuable maintenance into the future and habitat management.”

Ian Wright, idverde’s Senior Conservation and Community Ranger and Site Manager for Hayes Common, talks about the Friends of Hayes Common group: “They enable us to do an enormous amount of work that we wouldn’t normally be able to do. With the Friends of Hayes Common, there are up to 30 volunteers coming out and spending a couple of hours and that translates into a very large amount of volunteer and work hours.”


Close by, Bromley Countryside Volunteers are working hard to improve open spaces for biodiversity and those living in Bromley. We met with some of the volunteers of the group whilst they were litter picking in the Langley area with the supervision of idverde and RSPB Biodiversity Advisor Steven Lofting, who says: “Bromley Countryside Volunteers is a group that’s been running for about 30 years. They’re a fantastic bunch of volunteers that come out on a twice-weekly basis to assist across a range of tasks across the borough. They have a great skill set and so much knowledge and information that they’re willing to share.”

Tony, who has been with the group since 2010, speaks about how he got started volunteering: “I went for one of Bromley’s country walks and at the end, I said ‘how can I get more involved’ and they said ‘see you Wednesday’. I do two days a week now, if I had my way I’d do every day.

I really enjoy it. [There’s] lot’s of different sites we work on and it’s quite varied.”


Ray, who joined the group seven years ago, talks more about the projects they get involved in: “We get involved in mainly clearing rubble and litter, building fences and bridges across streams. We do other types of things like clearing up, and also taking trees down. Today we are at Langley Park, picking up litter which unfortunately people have left.”

Speaking on what advice he’d give people wanting to get started, Ray says: “Go onto the website, and give your name and number and take it from there.”

If you would like to find out more about volunteering in these groups, you can visit the below websites:

Bromley Countryside Volunteers

Friends of Groups