Meet Rita Newby, craft room volunteer at Martin Mere

Rita, a huge sci-fi fan who enjoys being creative, has volunteered at Martin Mere for nearly two years. She started looking for volunteering after she missed being around people.

“I became physically disabled as an adult, and my condition means it would be nearly impossible for me to work again. I missed being around people, so I started volunteering a few years ago in a primary school, but post-2020 this was no longer an option.

“I was actually looking for a volunteering opportunity for my son (who is now a volunteer on the reserve) during Volunteer Week 2021. Whilst here, I saw a craft room role and wondered if someone had been spying on me! I knew immediately that, if my physical limits could be accepted, I would fit right into that role... and everyone has been incredibly supportive so, I have!”

Rita now volunteers every other Sunday at Martin Mere, helping out in our family craft room where we have a range of arts and crafts like badge making, colouring, and clay modelling.

Asked what her favourite part about volunteering is, Rita said: “There’s a look people get in their eyes when you tell them that something they created is fantastic. Being here lets me see that every single shift and I love it!”

Additionally, Rita introduced and organised free children’s art workshops at Martin Mere, which she hopes will drive more children (and adults!) to get more creative.

“I only got into art as an adult, always believing before then that I couldn’t draw (I’ve sold a few paintings now!) - and I kept hearing that phrase from so many people about themselves.”

“I wanted people to have the opportunity to engage with nature through art and feel good about what they're creating. Everyone has been so supportive in helping me get the workshops set up, and the worksheets I've been making have also been adapted for our Art Hub. I've had some amazing feedback from our visitors!”

Since volunteering, Rita recalls plenty of memorable moments, including “an adult who wanted his photo taken with his drawing because he’s never been able to draw something that looked like it meant to”, “seeing the use of her art tutorials in the Art Hub”, and “seeing the art workshop signs with my name on it, and it looking like it belonged”.

One particularly funny moment she described was when there was a moorhen under the craft room counter!

Volunteer with us

We’re always on the search for volunteers in a range of roles, including family activities, welcome desk, and reserve. Find out more here.

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