Residential Volunteer - Mersehead


Mersehead, Dumfries and Galloway

Volunteer • Full Time

Sectors: conservation & wildlife, environmental education

Closing date: Monday, 18th July 2022  

When: end of July 2022 onwards

Commitment: 5 days a week (includes fortnightly weekend working)

Duration: From end-July 2022 to end-October 2022 or up to March 2023

Why We Want You: Are you a people person? Do you feel passionate about nature, looking after it but more importantly, encouraging others to do so?

Would you like to wake up every morning and work on an incredible coastal reserve with amazing views across the Solway Firth and the Galloway hills? Are you passionate about speaking with people and helping visitors to have an amazing experience?

If your answer is yes to all of the above, Mersehead would love to hear from you!

Mersehead has been an RSPB nature reserve since 1993 and boasts a wide variety of habitats in breath-taking surroundings. With wide expanses of intertidal sandflats on the Solway Firth, the large skies and seascapes give a feeling of escape with stunning views towards the Lakeland fells and the Isle of Man. Criffel and the Galloway hills shelter the reserve behind, providing an impressive backdrop to our farmland and interior freshwater wetlands. It is a favourite place for both tourists and local people alike, and of all ages.

The reserve sees approximately 15,000 visitors each year and work will prioritise on meeting their needs, to improve our welcome and enhance their experience of the site. Nature simply cannot be saved without people supporting it!

We’re looking for an enthusiastic residential volunteer to join our small, friendly team here at Mersehead and help with the delivery of our visitor and community experience both on and off the reserve . While learning about aspects of the reserve and local wildlife, as a member of the RSPB Mersehead team you will become fully involved in visitor operations: enthusing and inspiring the public in/around our visitor centre, face-to-face engagement on and off the site, assisting with and running events, managing day volunteers, creating interpretation and maintaining visitor infrastructure.

You will be involved in new offsite initatives - working and assisting with local schools and community groups, for example creating co-design projects aimed to raise awareness to wider communty and to become closer to nature with the aim of giving a sense of ownership to elements of how RSPB Mersehead is managed.

With such variety within the role, every day is different. You will be energetic, committed and prepared to get stuck in to whatever the day brings.

What’s In It For You:

This is an exciting opportunity for starting a career in nature conservation and/or working with the public, in various forms: from community liaison, health and wellbeing in the great outdoors and outreach educational work as well as bringing people closer to and helping nature. An ideal way to get into countryside rangering or advisory work, linking people with the environment.

You will learn what it takes to run visitor/community operations and manage a nature reserve, and will gain a valuable insight into Europe's largest conservation charity.

You’ll be sharing accommodation in our converted farmhouse in the heart of the reserve, becoming fully immersed in the life of RSPB Mersehead.

Working alongside staff and volunteers you will gain a range of people engagement and practical skills, while enhancing your experience in this field.

And then there’s the wonderful nature to enjoy. Before returning to their breeding grounds at the end of April, you will experience Svalbard barnacle geese at this site. We also have the natterjack toad, a European protected species and the UK's rarest amphibian, with the largest colony on the Solway Estuary found at RSPB Mersehead. In addition, we’ve 20+ species of butterflies, dragon and damselflies, a host of native plants, roe deer, brown hares badgers, otters and rare farmland birds too.

There may be some opportunity to get familiar and assist with wildlife surveys, including butterflies, moth-trapping, bird or mammal surveys but please be aware that this is not a core part of the role.

We will provide support and coaching through on task learning to enhance the skills and experiences you need to be successful in pursuing a nature-based people/conservation career.


We need someone who has an enthusiastic and friendly personality and is a good team player, keen to learn lots about conservation and wildlife through working with people and our visitors. You must have good communication and people engagement skills with the confidence to talk to people from all walks of life.

We run activities for children and families, as well as special events for adults, and you will take the opportunity to help in planning and delivering these. Working with children is required in this role.

You must be happy working outdoors in all weathers in what can be challenging and sometimes repetitive work. This may include hard manual tasks, strimming and grass cutting and path building.

Some weekend working is necessary as part of your working fortnight.

You must be over 18, and a full clean driving licence is essential as you must be able to drive the reserve's vehicles and will be expected to do some offsite work.

Beneficial but not essential: good wildlife identification skills, an ability to use computers/software and some previous practical/people engagement experience.

Most of all, you just need enthusiasm and a passion for working with people.


This is a remote site so your own transport would be advantageous. Appropriate training will be provided and pre-arranged expenses will be re-imbursed where necessary.

To apply please complete the online application form and email your CV to Calum Murray [email protected]

The online application form has a section to complete that asks why you have applied for this role. You can either complete this or send a covering letter along with your CV explaining why you wish to apply for this placement to the email address above.

Deadline for applications is 18 July 2022. Informal interviews will be held virtually during the following week. The start date for the role will be around the end of July 2022 (negotiable, depending on availability).

For more information, contact:

Calum Murray

Telephone: 07825 119 337

Email: [email protected]

Find out more & apply