As International Youth Day approaches this Sunday; thousands of 11-24-year olds across the UK have been equipped to make a difference in their local communities and for the environment, thanks to the National Lottery funded Our Bright Future programme.
Led by The Wildlife Trusts, almost 80,000 (Eighty thousand) young people have signed up to creating a greener future, smashing the programme’s original target of 60,000 (sixty thousand) young people being involved.
Each project; from beekeeping, to sustainable construction and setting up social enterprises, young people gain training, skills and confidence; motivating them to make a difference in their own lives and improve the communities and environment around them.
Stephanie Hilborne, OBE, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts said: “Every generation has what it takes to create real positive change. It is simply a matter of people having the confidence and support to do so. This programme us about just that – fuelling the creativity, inspiration and resilience of our young people. And in the face of escalating environmental challenge, it has never been more important.”
More than 1,200 community spaces have been formed or improved, including planting orchards at hostels for the homeless and planting gardens for schools. These projects not only give young people a sense of achievement and pride in their local areas, but also provide habitats for wildlife.
Daniel Gair, an apprentice with the One Planet Pioneers programme in Middlesbrough, said: “I started of volunteering with One Planet Pioneers and was successful in progressing onto an apprenticeship. I really enjoy my apprenticeship and have learnt loads of new things, building knowledge, experience and skills in how to care for our environment and how to use tools safely and effectively.
“I would recommend this apprenticeship to anyone because it has been one of the best things I have done.”
There are 31 projects across the UK. Each has received approximately £1 million of National Lottery funding from the Big Lottery Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK.
One Planet Pioneers (OPP) is a project funded by the Big Lottery Fund through the ‘Our Bright Future Programme’. OPP is a collaboration of work between different partners, Middlesbrough Environment City (MEC), Middlesbrough based charity Actes Trust and Tees Valley Wildlife Trust. The aim of the project is to develop the skills of young people aged 14-21 years old through environmental projects, events or one off activities.
One Planet Pioneer’s offer training and opportunities for young people who get involved in the project with an emphasis on building skills knowledge and understanding with additional focus on embedding team work, confidence, self esteem and resilience. It is designed to equip young people with a range of skills that can be taken to prospective employers.
OPP apprentices and volunteers take part in a diverse range of activities in nature reserves, green flag parks, Middlesbrough Becks, and community settings to improve or develop the physical space and build people’s awareness of the impacts being made to the environment. The OPP team assist with outdoor education for local school groups and community groups including managing green spaces in and around Middlesbrough, learning how to fell trees, coppicing, planting, footpath work, wildflower grassland management and developing skills to grow fruit and veg from seed on MEC community growing sites and at school garden clubs.
Peter Ainsworth, Chair, Big Lottery Fund said, “Thanks to the National Lottery players, Our Bright Future is unleashing young people’s ambition to make a personal and collective contribution to making our environment brighter, happier and more resilient to threats like climate change and the waste of natural resources.”
Visit www.ourbrightfuture.co.uk for a full list of projects.