A group of four volunteers in high vis from Caru Eryri smile for the camera. They have been litter-picking

Cross-partner volunteering – learning from Caru Eryri

Published: 21/03/24 | Categories: Volunteering, Author: Mary-Kate Jones

Snowdonia Society received a Volunteering Wales Strategic Grant to explore the benefits of a partnership approach to volunteering. Programme Manager, Mary-Kate Jones tells us more.

Caru Eryri (Care for Snowdonia) is a volunteer programme delivered in partnership in Eryri by:

  • Cymdeithas Eryri Snowdonia Society
  • The Outdoor Partnership
  • Eryri National Park Authority (ENPA)
  • National Trust

It also works closely with professionals in the outdoor activity sector.

Caru Eryri volunteer teams patrol locations where visitor pressures and impacts are most acute. Professional leaders and trained volunteers provide information for visitors, clear litter and maintain footpaths.

Leaders of the volunteer teams have noted frequent positive interactions with the public. People were often pleased – and sometimes relieved – to be approached with informed advice about their options, routes and equipment, and warmly appreciated the presence and work of our volunteers.


The Caru Eryri scheme has achieved a considerable amount on the ground in Eryri, and this work is highly visible. The programme is an example of what can be delivered by voluntary organisations working in close partnership with a public body.

Over the last four years our work in partnership has changed. Increasingly we and our partners are sharing systems, expertise, responsibilities and staff capacity to achieve common goals.

Caru Eryri has built on many years of volunteering experience and has taken our partnership working to another level, as the four organisations share systems, staff, administration responsibilities, and the leading of volunteer days.


There is a great deal of enthusiasm for and recognition of the value of partnership working across Wales. There is less in terms of established arrangements to turn that enthusiasm into effective action which delivers on identified shared priorities and on the strategic challenges for people and environment.

Here are some things to bear in mind when considering working in partnership.

Set up a data sharing agreement

When sharing our learning at the WCVA Volunteering Beyond the Pandemic event, we in turn learned that we needed to develop a high-level data sharing agreement and protocol between partner organisations regarding sharing volunteer data.

As a result, we drafted a new Data Sharing Agreement for the Caru Eryri partnership. This provides an overarching framework for each partner organisation’s individual GDPR policies. The Data Sharing Agreement was discussed at a full partnership meeting in May, this then went for approval through ENPA’s GDPR Officer.

Build trust and partnerships slowly

Relationships and trust between partners takes time to develop as each partner learns how the other works. It is important to begin this work slowly, taking the time to establish ways of working which work in each situation with each partner.

This will vary both geographically and with the partners involved. Regular communication with open and honest conversations around ways of working, volunteer management, safeguarding of staff and volunteers, health and safety protocols, responsibilities, and quick and effective problem solving will be key to establishing a solid, robust and professional partnership.

Volunteers in high vis from Caru Eryri maintain a footpath in Snowdonia National Park

Managing volunteer safely with a shared system

One of the most important learning outcomes from our development of a shared volunteer management system is that the protocols and permissions for safeguarding must be managed consistently. Partner organisations have their own systems and ways of working.

When working in partnership there are numerous ways in which different organisational approaches can be accommodated. But when it comes to something as fundamental as safeguarding it is essential that all partners active in operating the volunteer management system commit to a set of agreed partnership protocols.

The system put in place for Caru Eryri has strict protocols around ‘approval’ and management of volunteers to take part in activities. There are special processes for volunteers in categories which require special focus, eg young people under the age of 18, or volunteers with restrictions on who they can work with.

Flexibility and adaptability are essential

In our evaluation meeting and at the Small Nation: Big Landscapes conference, there was much discussion of a new factor which affects ‘beauty spots’ and has implications for their management nationwide. This is the ability for a previously quiet location to rapidly be swamped with visitors as a result of images and posts on social media going viral. This happened in 2022 within our Caru Eryri operations area.

Traditionally the Watkin path up Snowdon has been one of the quietest routes with less litter. Until recently it was a route which you could take and see few people before reaching the summit. This year, the waterfalls on the Watkin path ‘went viral’ on Instagram and TikTok. The consequences of this were seen on the ground by volunteers and staff as the number of visitors exploded, as did the amount of litter, barbecues, fly camping etc.

The impact of this type of rapid change on parking issues was particularly obvious in Nant Gwynant, which became a new contender for headlines and stories about ‘Silly-cone valley’.

Management regimes and infrastructure provision in popular places are the result of years, often decades of evolution and adaptation. Now with the full power of image-driven social media, the type and scale of use of a place can change literally overnight.

This year it was the Watkin path, and next year it could be another area. We responded by increasing patrols of Caru Eryri groups in that area, but it is a sticking plaster response, and one which draws resources away from other places where they are needed.


If you’d like to find out more we’ve written a report on learning from the Caru Eryri Project.


Funded by Welsh Government, the Volunteering Wales Strategic Grant Scheme has been supporting pioneering projects that look long-term at volunteering and how we can unlock its potential.

Grant recipients have shown how strategic thinking about volunteering can be massively beneficial in achieving your organisation’s aims. Here are some of the resources that have been produced: