It was all hands on deck for the Team Phoenix Volunteering day on Wednesday 24th January.
Rob Eddon, Performance Sports Coordinator at Coventry University Students’ Union worked with the SU volunteering team to put together a group of students from a number of sports teams to take part.
They spent a good chunk of the day working on several projects, all of which have made an impact on the local environment.
At the Coombe Country Park, members of Team Phoenix undertook a bit of conservation work which involved a lot of strenuous hacking away at some of the out of control Rhododendron.
The purpose of this was to cut away and burn the plant to clear the woodland floor in order for the native plants to flourish.
Luke Gregory, Men’s Basketball President said:
“We volunteered at Coombe Country Park and we gained a lot from the day. As a group of guys from the team, it allowed us to bond well together as a team and allowed us to interact and socialise out of the sporting context.
"Coombe County Park is used by over 400,000 people a year and volunteering to help maintain the areas within it is something which we all agreed was helping the local community.
"It is a great opportunity to give back to a City which offers students like us so much, as well as having that feeling that you have helped to make other people’s lives easier and better at the same time”.
Some of Team Phoenix went to the Ryton Pools Country Park and did an excellent job at conservation management work, which again, involved trimming back and remove the surrounding blackthorn and brambles.
It was a lot of hard work and the group taking part in this thought that it was a great way to learn new skills, appreciate the environment and help an amazing team based at Ryton Pools Country Park. The fact that they were able to help them out is something they are very proud of.
The final group were working with the Canal and River Trust doing some vital conservation work.
The team covered a lot of ground in the time they were there which included: vegetation management; planting, pruning, litter picking; towpath and waterborne, access clearing, painting and minor canal repairs.
All of these places are popular with the public and so it is important to keep them in good condition. However, as the organisations involved will tell you, it is not easy to do all this with limited resources and that’s where Team Phoenix thought that they could make a difference.
Matt Cunningham, Men’s Football President, said:
“Our day of volunteering showed us how important the Canal Basin is to the community, something we were very unaware of as students. We saw how essential it is to make sure that areas like this in the City of Coventry are helped to be kept clean and maintained and how negligence can affect such a nice place.
"We volunteered because we get so much from the city and rarely have the chance to give much back. Coventry is such a continuously improving area and we wanted to do something to help improve the parts that are older and more historic.
"More people should give up some of their time to give back to the community they are a part of. We went as a group and managed to enjoy a day out whilst getting a lot of work done. You can change so much in such a short amount of time and it is extremely rewarding”.
By working with the various parks and trusts, the team were able to make an important contribution to the upkeep of these public spaces.
Jonny Clark, from the CU Jets American football team, was helping out on the day. He said:
"As a University Sports Team, the performance of the team is highly important and Rob and the guys at Team Phoenix understand that performance on the field is directly impacted by events off it.
"Our day at Ryton Pools Country Park is a great example of how this kind of project provides us with various opportunities to better ourselves. We were split into two teams of 5 and put at either end of the Devon Ride Hedge where our task was to trim back and remove the surrounding blackthorn and brambles.
"Obviously being competitive individuals we naturally took this as a challenge to see who could move furthest along the Hedge, which clearly was effective by the amount of work we achieved!
The whole day was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and one that we would be more than happy to do again”.
Natalie Cadwallader, President of the Women’s Basketball Team said:
“Volunteering has offered us a great opportunity to bond as a team not only in a sporting environment, but whilst helping the more neglected parts of Coventry.
“Most of our team didn’t know this area was there and given this opportunity, we got to see its real beauty and historic value to Coventry. We feel as we all represent Coventry University from not only the sports side, but also the academic side with a wide range subjects being studied by our players, we can now take back our findings to our peers.
"Giving back to the Coventry community, where we go to university, is the least we can do. We made sure we did the best job we could and left the area in a way that we feel made a huge difference”.
This sentiment was not only echoed by the others who took part in the different projects on the day but also by those who benefitted from the work that Team Phoenix carried out.
Sue Blocksidge from the Canal and River Trust said:
“Your students worked so hard and what a great bunch! They were a pleasure to be around. They did a fantastic job. From our point of view it was a great success.
"The Trustees were very impressed and commented on the attitude of the students; they are a credit to the university.”
Praise indeed and it just goes to show that by giving up a few hours of your spare time, you can make such a difference and give so much back to the community.
Well done Team Phoenix!