Attend a work party

The work party is a mainstay of the association, without it little would get done. All bothies have Maintenance Organisers, but it is not up to them to do all the work to keep the building in good order. Just as we rely heavily on members to report problems, so we rely on volunteers to help with the work.

A work party can take place any time of year, but mostly in the summer, when weather is kinder, days longer and packs not weighed down with winter kit. Work undertaken varies enormously, from the complete rebuilding of a ruin, re roofing, installing stoves, laying concrete floors, replacing windows, drainage, to painting and general tidying. It is rare that there isn’t more work than time available, extra help is always welcome. People with building skills are manna from heaven, but no more so than the person who will carry sand or gravel all day, or who boils water for a brew. There is always a chance to show willing. A work party is a place to pick up skills and learn from experienced hands.

Most work parties last a weekend, but big projects may need a concentrated effort lasting a week or a fortnight, or different workparties over several weekends. It all depends on the type of work and the accessibility of the bothy. Some work parties have some catering organised for volunteers. This is a way of showing appreciation to those who come and help.

We take Health and Safety seriously. We have to, not just because we care that no one is injured; it is the law. Ever since a tragedy in the Orkneys, when two volunteers on a Prince’s Trust project were killed it has been made very clear that the Health and Safety Executive expects charities to look after workers the same as employers do, and offenders will be prosecuted.

Each work party is backed up by paperwork showing the job has been thought through, that hazards have been anticipated and as far as possible reduced. This is the Health and Safety Plan, with supporting Specific Risk Assessments, approved by an Area Organiser or the Director of Projects before work starts. Volunteers sign a register, a record of attendance to comply with our insurance. Every work party has a Casualty Evacuation Plan, showing how to get help quickly, and there are clear procedures for recording accidents and reporting them as appropriate. The Association gives free first aid training to members and holds the necessary insurance policies to cover its activities.

We have particular concerns regarding persons not wholly responsible for themselves. All children below the age of 16, must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Arrangements for the supervision of persons with reduced ability to look after themselves must be agreed with the Project Organiser before the work party.

All these measures are in place to protect members and their interests. We provide a Volunteer’s Handbook that contains advice on safe working practices and much else to do with the practical side of work parties, including what kit to bring. If you haven’t been on a work party before we recommend that you obtain a copy. Ask the Project Organiser or an Area Organiser for one.

Work parties have their social side. Outside area meetings and Annual General Meetings a work party is the chance to meet fellow members and exchange views. Many friendships have been forged at work parties and the chance of seeing familiar faces is a strong incentive to attend projects.

A full list of work party dates can be found in the Helping Us section of this website or in the latest issue of the newsletter, under Area News.