Team Challenges at Greenfields

Hello, my name is Ronan and I am very excited to have started my new role as Volunteering Project Officer at York Cares. I am responsible for our Inspiring Minds and Aspirations programmes. I have previously worked in York for the last six years for John Lewis & Partners York where I was a York Cares Ambassador and have taken part in their Right to Read sessions, numerous Team Challenges and helped organise Inspiring Minds sessions within the branch.

I have fond memories of Team Challenges and the feedback I received from Partners at John Lewis at the time was wonderful. They really felt that they were having an impact in the community which was great. It also allowed Partners and myself to build stronger relationships within the team and the local community.

I had arranged with the York Cares team to take part in two Team Challenges during my first week, one with the wider Careers and Placements Team at the University of York, where York Cares is based, and one with the rest of the York Cares team, giving me the opportunity to meet people face to face whilst most of us are currently working from home . Having checked the weather beforehand, it looked rather showery. Therefore, I went prepared with my rain jacket and sturdy boots. They were definitely needed as we battled with the rain, assisting with bramble management and general tidying at Greenfields. However, it was a lovely opportunity to meet everyone and get outside in the fresh air, whilst also making a difference in the community. The following day was a complete contrast in weather and  surprisingly when I arrived back at Greenfields it was lovely and warm. The sun was out, and I was able to catch up with the wider York Cares team over lunch before the challenge began. Volunteers were encouraged to bring their own food and drink and having experienced the rain from the previous day I had my own flask of tea to keep me warm.

 So, with the weather in our favour, nine of us from York Cares and the wider Careers and Placements team undertook a range of activities including bramble management (I got to finish what I had started the previous day!), adding bark mulch to pathways and general garden maintenance. Social distancing was our top priority along with ensuring that COVID secure measures were in place. These included wiping tools before and after use, no sharing of tools between volunteers, having hand sanitizer readily available and using new pairs or our own pairs of gloves. It is important to highlight that ‘Rule of Six’ does not apply to charitable work in this capacity. This is really important as charities across the country are currently struggling with volunteering numbers due to the uncertainty of what individuals can do to help. This sends a clear message, that as long as it is safe to do so, we can help organise volunteer work groups to support  the local community. If you are interested in taking part in our Team Challenges, please email We’ll also be holding Team Challenge Week between the 2 and 6 of November with half-day opportunities at a variety of sites across the city. Contact for more information. Sign up to our newsletter to keep up to date with all of our programmes.