middlesbrough-moving-forwardMiddlesbrough young people step up and create what is rightfully theirs: a healthy planet, a thriving economy and a brighter future

Three months on from the Paris climate change agreement, the Big Lottery Fund is investing £33 million in more than 30 organisations to inspire and develop the next generation of environmental leaders. Middlesbrough Environment City is receiving £917,000.

Our Bright Future aims to tackle three big challenges facing society today – a lack of social cohesion, a lack of opportunities for young people and vulnerability to climate change.

Thirty one youth-led projects across the UK are each receiving around £1m of funding to give young people the skills and knowledge to improve their local environments – from reducing marine pollution to minimising food waste. In doing so, young people will develop the confidence and resilience to become environmental leaders and influence decisions at local and national levels.

This young, ambitious and capable movement is ensuring this generation’s voice is heard in the current debates around environmental improvements and a resource-efficient economy.

The five-year project will be led by local environmental charity Middlesbrough Environment City working with Tees Valley Wildlife Trust, Actes Trust and Teesside University.

The funding will help to improve the life chances of young people aged 14 to 21,  by helping them develop their skills through a diverse range of environmental activities using the One Planet Living approach.  

Middlesbrough Environment City and Tees Valley Wildlife Trust will provide volunteering, training and apprenticeship opportunities, including nature conservation, cycling and horticulture projects.

Actes will help recruit young people to the programme and provide on-going support to help participants make the most of their time on the programme.

The project aims to provide 400 volunteering places and 24 apprenticeships, with a total of 30,000 hours of participation, with 160 people expected to progress to further training and 30 into employment through the project.

But Our Bright Future goes a lot further than the impressive impacts seen by these individual projects. The programme is gathering strong evidence about how we can support the development of the environment and young people using a resource efficient and sustainable ‘green’ economy. More than a hundred organisations are contributing to the wider Our Bright Future movement by sharing evidence, learning and knowledge which will soon start to inform the choices made at local, regional, and national levels in the UK.

Our Bright Future is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and run by a consortium of eight organisations which is led by The Wildlife Trusts. The partnership has more than 40 years of combined experience in managing social and environmental grant programmes totalling nearly £300 million, and has a proven track record of working with and empowering young people in communities of all social circumstances.

Councillor Julia Rostron, Chair of Middlesbrough Environment City, said: “This is great news for Middlesbrough.

“Through the project, young people from the town will be able to take part in a wide range of opportunities that will also improve their future employment prospects and also help them make a positive contribution to their local community.

“One Planet Living is all about improving quality of life for local people whilst ensuring a sustainable future for the town and the planet.  This project will help achieve both of these things.”

Stephanie Hilborne OBE, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts said:

Our Bright Future is an innovative movement for change. It is brilliant that the Big Lottery Fund has recognised that societal and environmental challenges are two sides of the same coin. The programme supports young people to develop the skills needed to thrive in the workplace and it does so through the environment. We want to see a generation of courageous and wise leaders empowered to change our world for the better.”

Peter Ainsworth, Chair of the Big Lottery Fund said:

“The environment is where we live. Our Bright Future is designed to unleash the ambition of young people across the UK 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.  

“This initiative over the next seven years aims to join up the social, economic and environmental benefits that will come from enabling young people to shape their own future and others that follow them.”