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Staff Story: Northlands Park Warden Vic Hobbs

We're sharing stories from some of the council's unsung heroes to find out more about what they do. This week we're talking to Vic Hobbs - Park Warden, about his journey with the council.

Tell me about your role? 

I'm park warden at Northlands Park so I make sure it's clean and tidy for the public. I love the job. A group of students came down last summer from SEEVIC college as part of a programme to learn more about planting and why we do what we do, and I really enjoyed that. It gave me a sense of giving back to the community. 

How did you get here? 

I started with Basildon Council about 20 years ago as an agency worker in the cleansing team and mentioned I would like to get into parks. I couldn't believe my luck when I ended up at Northlands. When my children were young, we used to walk through the park on the way to my sister-in-law's and I'd say how much I would love to work in the park and my wife would say, 'yeah keep dreaming'. When I got the job I felt like I had won the football pools. 

What does a normal day look like?  

A normal day will involve speaking to my supervisor over the phone to discuss any issues or urgent jobs that need doing. I will then go about my daily tasks checking the play areas for litter, glass and making them safe and mowing the grass around them. Cleaning the toilets, cutting the grass around the flower beds, trimming hedges and generally being on hand to help our visitors. 

What do you enjoy most about your role?  

I enjoy being out in the fresh air and keeping my mind active and choosing what I want to do, within reason. Being around the wildlife and meeting all the local dog walkers who you get to know is also a part of the role I enjoy. During the pandemic I was busier because the parks were busier and there was more litter. Things are getting back to normal now. People are starting to get their confidence back and relaxing.  

What do you think will be important for the council in the future?  

We must keep the big parks and play areas. People need it to stay in touch with the wildlife. Some people look but don't see so I like to be there to tell them which type of bird they are looking at. I've had people ask me where the ducks and geese have gone. I tell them I don't know. They are wild animals and can come and go as they please. It's important to have wardens in the park who can pass on knowledge to visitors. 

How is the council changing to meet present and future demand?  

So much money has been cut but the council is doing its best with what it's got. We need more money for infrastructure in the parks so we can keep them in as best condition as possible for our residents. I'm pleased to hear about all the investment going into our play areas following the play review. I see the families that benefit from this, and it really make a difference. 

Why does your job matter?  

It keeps me fit and my mind active and my job makes people feel safe in their park. If there are any problems people can come to me and I can help them out. I think it's important that there is a friendly face around that people can trust.