Friday, 1 June 2012

To the Bat Phone! Life as an Out of Hours Bat Helpline Volunteer

This week (1-7 June) is Volunteers’ Week, and BCT would like to say a huge thank you to all the volunteers who help us out – on our Bat Helpline, at our headquarters, visiting bat roosts, leading bat walks and caring for ill or injured bats. To celebrate Volunteers’ Week, we’ll be uploading a series of posts by volunteers to find out more about them, their roles and the bats they’ve met and helped!

Our first guest post is by Michelle Clark, who is one our our invaluable out of hours National Bat Helpline volunteers. We're not sure if Michelle's phone lights up like the Bat Phone, but we do know she does a wonderful job!

If you need help with a bat, please call the National Bat Helpline on 0845 1300 228 or visit the Bat Conservation Trust website.

I have been a volunteer for the Bat Conservation Trust’s out of hours Helpline service for four years. I answer calls from members of the public who phone the National Bat Helpline after office hours and at weekends from May until September. When I’m on duty, the Bat Helpline is diverted to my home phone.

I’ve answered a wide range of enquiries – what to do with an injured bat, how to handle a bat flying around inside the house, and calls about possible roosts within residential and other buildings. I provide information and advice about how to care for bats and, if a bat is injured, I put the caller in touch with a local bat carer to who can provide specialist care.

I really enjoy being able help members of the public with their bat questions and concerns. People are often worried when they first call as they know very little about bats. I love being able to go some way to introducing bats to people and helping people understand these amazing creatures a bit better. I also feel it’s a great way to engage with members of the public and I think every encounter is valuable. Occasionally, I get a caller who has quite a negative view of bats, so I try to understand their point of view and give them the facts about bats. I’ve learnt a lot since starting on the Bat Helpline. It’s improved my confidence in talking to people about bats so much that I lead my first bat walk last year! I don’t think that would have happened without being a volunteer on the Bat Helpline.

Michelle enjoying the great outdoors with her daughter.

I used to work for the local council as an administrator, but since having my daughter last year, I’ve become a full time mum! I’ve been interested in bats and wildlife for many years and assisted with local surveys and counts with local groups and the ranger service. I am now thinking about the future and what it may hold for me. I would like to use the skills I have developed to pursue a new career, possibly in education. Whatever I do, I suspect bats and wildlife will definitely be a part of it. I’d love to help enthuse the next generation about bats and bat conservation, and help ensure that bats survive for my daughter to enjoy!

Michelle’s daughter is still a bit too small, but we have some great resources for young people - and for teachers. Young people can also join the BCT's Young Batworker Club and receive our Young Batworker magazine three times a year (best for ages 8-16).

Find out more about volunteering with BCT.

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