Digital volunteers keep people connected to Welsh island wildlife

Person sitting in front of two computer screens
Volunteer Lucy Houliston

Heritage Grants

The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales
Volunteers with digital skills came to the aid of The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales when people couldn’t visit Skomer Island during lockdown.

In 2020, the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis brought tourism to a standstill, devastating income for The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales.

A £194,900 Heritage Emergency Fund grant helped them cover costs, including for conservation, PPE, travel, overheads, IT, supplies and staff.

The funding meant they could keep two wardens on Skomer to care for the island's wildlife. It also enabled the Trust to take on digital volunteers who, working remotely, joined up with the wardens to set up wildlife live streams.

Close up of two puffins
Puffins. Credit: Mike Alexander

The volunteers used their pre-existing skills to edit videos, source clips and photographs and manage interactions on social media – feeding them to the island wardens during live Q&As. They also learned new skills so they could become live producers and directors.

Volunteer Lucy Houliston said: “Not only did being part of the Skomer Live team give me a chance to learn new technical skills – which have come in useful for lots of other media and fundraising projects – but it also taught me a great deal about Skomer Island's incredible wildlife!”

Skomer Live has had 250,000 views from people across the world so far – reaching new future visitors and keeping existing ones connected – and raised £110,000 in donations.

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