Mar 09 2020

Meet the new National Volunteer Panel


The National Volunteer Panel with Director of Brand and Communications – Ruth Hyde

National Volunteer Panel launches!


Today the Woodland Trust launches our brand new National Volunteer Panel.


Over the last few years Woodland Trust volunteers have told us you would like to see better two way communication and an easy way to put forward ideas and opportunities. We have taken this feedback on board and our new volunteer-led initiative will hopefully address many of those points.


We now have a network of regionally- based volunteers who are available to talk and resolve issues you may have. The panel will review, recommend and support your ideas, providing feedback and well-researched and thought out responses. Suggestions which have a national or strategic impact will be taken forward to be discussed at quarterly meetings.


Everyone here at the Trust is committed to making the panel a success – we hope you will get involved and help make volunteering at the Woodland Trust even better for everyone.


 I’m sure you’ll have queries about the panel and how it will work so we’ve put together a Q & A. Do take a look and find out more about this exciting new venture.


What will the Panel do?


1    Enable a formal route to interact with the Woodland Trust and gain support and assistance through volunteer consultation.

2    Provide volunteers with a defined structure and process that gives them an opportunity to offer feedback on issues that affect them or get their ideas heard.

3    Create a model for volunteering input to become best practice in volunteer engagement.



Panel Q&A


Why are you setting up the National volunteer panel?

The panel is an exciting new initiative which has been put together by volunteers following feedback from volunteers. The Woodland Trust and panel members are committed to work together to achieve its success. Please do get involved and help to make your Woodland Trust volunteer experience a more beneficial, memorable and fun experience for all.


Who will my panel member be?

Details of how to contact your representative are included below and more information will follow next week by email and also of course on Whittle. Scotland, North of England, Central England, South East England, South West England will have two or three panel members.  Northern Ireland and Wales currently only have one representative. If you are interested in becoming a panel member for either of these locations please do get in touch. 


How will I contact them?

There are several ways to contact your local panel member. If you are not sure of your region ask your volunteer manager or volunteer development officer or email us at Contact can be made by email, or through the Whittle feedback form Alternatively you can write to us and we’ll pass this on to one of your panel members: National Volunteering Team, The Woodland Trust, Kempton Way, Grantham, Lincolnshire, NG31 6LL. You will also have the opportunity for a face to face discussion if you attend volunteering network meetings in your area. Details of these events can be found on Whittle.


When might I need to talk to a panel member?

Day to day queries relating to policies and procedures or general volunteering questions will still be handled by your volunteer manager.

Panel members can help when you have an idea or perhaps you see an opportunity for something we are not currently doing or could do better.  Or you might just want to have an informal unbiased chat about your experiences volunteering with the Woodland Trust.  From time to time the national volunteer team or your local volunteer development officer might feel it is appropriate to put you in contact with a panel member.


Will my usual contact with the Woodland Trust change?

Absolutely not. Your volunteer manager will continue to be responsible for everyday activities and ensuring you have the support you need. You should also continue to use the Whittle website including the feedback process to keep in touch with the national volunteering team.


 Is this different from the process for concerns in the volunteer handbook?

The process for concerns was created to provide a feedback or complaints route for specific problems that a volunteer may experience. This could be anything from an issue with their volunteer manager to an issue with expenses being rejected. Please refer to the handbook for more details. A feedback form can also be found on the Whittle homepage once logged in.


Will my suggestions or feedback be acted upon?

The panel is committed to be as responsive and informative as possible about the important things you raise. All issues and ideas are logged and discussed and your local panel member will feed back to you as soon as they can.


Will issues be treated confidentially?

Comments, opportunities, suggestions and issues can be submitted anonymously if you prefer and in every case confidentiality will be respected at all times.


How long will I need to wait for a response?

Timing may vary depending on the item raised and availability of panel members who are all working in a voluntary capacity. An appropriate response or an update for more complex issues will be given within days or weeks as opposed to months.  There will be occasions when issues/opportunities are outside the remit of the panel. You will be advised of this and if you agree your issue will be passed onto the national volunteering team or your volunteering development officer.


How will face to face contact with my panel member work?

Panel members will attend volunteer network events and will also be assisting with the organisation of some of these. If you have suggestions for future events please do feed these in. Panel members may be able to arrange one-to-one or small group sessions if required.


How is the panel run?

The panel members will work within a formal Terms of Reference and its effectiveness will be monitored and recorded, a copy of this is available on Whittle.


The Panel members can be contacted using the details below:



Alison Stewart –

Ian Baird –


Northern Ireland

Peter Lyons –



Brian Palmer –


North of England

Paul Littlewood –

Jon Stopp –


Central England

Judith Parry –

Ali Wyatt –

Ian Retson –


South East England

David Cruickshank –

Richard Tennant-Eyles –


South West England

Bev Knott –

John Greenshields –

  • JamesLow

    First of all, congratulations to all of the members of the new panel.
    However, it would have been helpful to have a little more information about the panel members, such as where they are based, their volunteering roles and how long they have been volunteers with the Trust. By way of background it would also have been helpful to know the identities of the volunteers behind this initiative and who, I understand, were given responsibility for appointing the new panel members as the representatives of all UK volunteers. And a question – was there any wider consultation exercise with volunteers about communications before this initiative was instigated? I simply seek a little bit of transparency.
    Thank you

    March 9, 2020 at 11:28 pm
  • PaulLittlewood

    Hi James, There is a mail shot in progress to all volunteers, this will include Bio’s from all the panel members covering the aspects you are looking for. The selection of volunteers was by interview after written application by volunteers, which was well advertised. The interview selection was by Trust managers in the National Volunteer Team.
    Hopefully the communications being distributed at the moment will answer you queries.

    March 11, 2020 at 10:59 am
  • JamesLow

    Hi Paul. Just to be clear that I have no issue with the panel members, who I am sure are very worthy. It is the process that I am trying to understand better. Paul Taylor has said that panel members were recruited by the volunteers from the original panel, which is slightly at odds with what you say. Who were on the original panel and how did the original panel come about? Is it a secret? I have also asked if there was any consultation with the broader body of volunteers. There might have been consultation and maybe I missed it. Paul refers to the NCVO – what is that? As a valued volunteer and member am I asking too much?
    Kind regards

    March 11, 2020 at 11:09 pm
  • Paul Taylor

    Hi Jim,
    Hopefully our chat has explained about the process we got to. The original panel came on board from over 20 volunteers that were approached by myself on the recommendation of other staff. At that time we didn’t have Whittle and we only had a small number of active volunteers on the Facebook page. The success of the panel and the processes will be reviewed next year. Volunteers will be consulted in the volunteer survey next year to feed into this. Bios of the panel members will be published shortly, as will meeting minutes.
    Most charities don’t have a panel of volunteers that have a voice into the organisation at this level. I am extremely proud that the Woodland Trust does and that it recognises the value of its volunteers. This is a new venture for all of us and it will be interesting to see if it makes a difference to those volunteers that feel they have ideas to contribute that could make an even bigger difference. Either way we will review next year when this new venture has had an opportunity to make an impact.
    With regards to a forum, I would like to see one and it is under consideration for the next version of Whittle. Our volunteer survey goes out soon we will be asking volunteers what else they would like to see, so this is an opportunity for all 3000 volunteers to feedback directly on a range of subjects. We will as we did last time publish the results and what action will be taken as a result of the feedback.
    If you have any more questions please feel free to contact me by email or phone and I’d value the opportunity to meet in person next time I’m in Scotland.
    All the Best

    March 12, 2020 at 1:41 pm

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