Volunteering at BRERC

Do you have data to submit to BRERC? Or just want to tell us what you've seen in your garden? Find out how to submit your wildlife sightings.

Why volunteer at BRERC?
  • Learn, improve and enhance industry-relevant and general office skills
  • Gain practical experience of a real-world working environment
  • Chances for networking with ecological professionals and others with similar interests
  • Discover the other environmental organisations in the Bristol region, and how they are linked
  • Contribute to a database of over 2 million wildlife records
  • Help to build up a picture of how wildlife is changing in our region
  • Be part of a small and friendly team of staff and other volunteers

Volunteering FAQs and our Access Statement are at the bottom of the page.

Office Based Opportunities at Blaise Castle House Museum

Data logging and assessment: Keeping track of all the information submitted to us is essential. This role involves assisting with the process of logging details of the emails, documents and reports about wildlife sent to us, as well as contacting individuals to thank them for their submissions. Data assessors evaluate each document carefully to identify important species and habitats ready for entry into our computer systems.

Data entry: With around 200,000 records coming in each year we always need help with entering information into our database - it isn't always a straightforward job and is a good introduction to the work of a records centre. An interest in wildlife is helpful and full training in using our database will be given.

Electronic data processing: Large volumes of data come into the office via spreadsheets. Our aim is to process these and get them into our systems as quickly as possible. Following our protocols, we need volunteers to validate, verify and process this data before it can be loaded onto our database. A familiarity with spreadsheets and databases would be useful.

Data Transfer: The process of moving data from the entry stage onto our main database is an exacting procedure which requires a high level of precision and attention to detail. If you are comfortable with computers, enjoy working with lots of data, and able to follow lengthly procedures across multiple programs, this task might appeal to you.

GIS: Using the Mapinfo Professional GIS system to map the location of habitats, sites and species, as well as updating tabular information. The software is also used to create maps which provide information to environmental consultants, wildlife recording groups and members of the public. Previous experience of GIS is an advantage.

'R' statistics package https://www.r-project.org/. Strong computer skills are a must, but no previous 'R' experience is necessary, although any programming experience would be useful.

Administrative tasks: Examples are cataloguing our collection of images, updating the library catalogue, general filing and help with mailings. Database and spreadsheet skills are useful.

Opportunities related to existing skills/knowledge

If you have any of the following skills and wish to volunteer then we'd love to hear from you.

  • Online Recording System - Indicia, Drupal, Content Management Systems
  • Geographical Information Systems - MapInfo, QGIS, ArcGIS, WFS, SQL
  • Computer Programming - MapBasic (Visual Basic), R
  • Online Systems - HTML, CSS, Postgres, Geoserver, PHP, mySQL
  • Graphic Design
  • Spreadsheets
  • Statistical Analysis
  • UK Ecology, Wildife and Habitat knowledge and surveying experience
  • Organisational and people management capabilities

Volunteering FAQs

Questions frequently asked by potential volunteers:

How many days or hours per week can I volunteer for? We recommend volunteers attend for a minimum of half a day per week. Some tasks will need more time input than this. There is no upper limit, but we encourage potential volunteers to be realistic about the time they have available.

How long am I expected to volunteer for? Due to the sometimes extensive training required, many of our tasks lend themselves well to a longer term commitment of six months or more. We can accommodate short-term voluntary positions, but these will be considered on a case by case basis. Again, we ask volunteers to be realistic in their expectations.

Do you provide training? Although we are a small team, any volunteer will be provided with the appropriate support to enable them to perform the task at hand. If staff are not available, you may be encouraged to engage with other experienced volunteers to assist you.

Can I work at home? Due to operational and data security reasons, most of our voluntary tasks do need to take place in our offices at Blaise. Therefore, working at home is not an option for new volunteers, except in exceptional circumstances.

When is your office open? Our office-based opportunities are usually only available Monday-Friday, between 10:00am and 5:00pm, when staff are available to supervise those present and enable volunteers to gain entry to the building.

Are there any restrictions on who can volunteer with you? We are guided by policy, and hence encourage as wide a range of people as possible to volunteer at BRERC. Some tasks require certain skills or experience that may limit who we can take on as a volunteer. Additionally, we are unable to offer volunteering opportunities to anyone who is under 18 years of age.

Access Statement

The BRERC office is based at Blaise Castle House Museum. BRERC staff and volunteers have their own entrance route via a courtyard at the side of the building, with access via a short but steep flight of steps.

Wheelchair access to the BRERC offices is possible via the main museum entrance during museum opening times.

How do I find out more?

If you would like further information about any of our volunteer roles or would like to have an informal chat with a member of staff, contact Daniel Marshall on 0117 9349833 or send an email via our Contacts section.

Any agreement to volunteer reflects the hopes and intentions of the volunteer and of BRERC, and is not contractually binding in any way for either party.