Yorkshire Times
Voice of the North
7:18 PM 23rd September 2019

Grassroots Youth Movement Is Tackling Climate Change

Behind Greta Thunberg’s headline grabbing thunderstorm of the #YouthStrike4Climate and the Extinction Rebellion protests, there is a grassroots environmental youth movement tackling climate change and boosting young potential.

Nearly 100,000 passionate, skilled and environmentally conscious young people are leading the way to a brighter future, through Our Bright Future, a programme funded by The National Lottery Community Fund.

Whilst the #YouthStrike4Climate has been effective at raising awareness of environmental challenges, the portfolio of 31 projects that form Our Bright Future, have quietly been making significant societal and environmental improvements, across the UK for the past four years.

Already young people have gained almost 4,000 environmental qualifications started more than 200 entrepreneurial projects and improved or created over 1,500 community spaces.

Our Bright Future is a once in a generation level of investment (£33 million), aimed at bringing together the UK’s youth and environmental sectors to generate a youth movement to stand up for the environment. It is made possible by The National Lottery Community Fund, the UK’s largest funder of community activity.

One of the 31 Our Bright Future projects is Green Guardians led by Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust which inspires and empowers young people in the Yorkshire Dales and surrounding area through a range of environmental opportunities.

Over the last 12 months, the project has connected nearly 500 young people to the countryside through 54 events. They have planted more than 1,000 trees at five different sites, made bird and bug boxes, cleared Himalayan balsam with Ribble Rivers Trust, weeded hedges, visited the show caves, climbed Ingleborough, undertaken Citizen Science surveys, learnt bushcraft skills, explored Malham and completed John Muir Awards

Dylan, who is part of Willow Young Carers and joined Green Guardians in 2016 to undertake a John Muir Award, said: “I never used to care about the environment before I came here, now I never drop litter and tell other people to pick up theirs.”

Sarah Deane, YDMT’s Green Guardians Project Officer, added: “We hear stories like Dylan’s all the time. and it is really pleasing that we make such a difference to young people’s lives.

“Making the connection with nature is really important, but we do it in a way that enhances a young person’s skills too. It’s great to offer young people different opportunities and broaden their horizons.

“A lot of the young people we work with don’t get out of their hometown to the nature on their doorsteps. It’s a shame, as learning about nature and connecting to it is really important for our wellbeing.”

The scheme is also supported by the David Brooke Charity whose contribution is vital as YDMT look to enhance the project and reach more young people.

While the protests have stirred a sense of urgency for environmental action, it’s important to be encouraged by the action already taking by young people through Our Bright Future. 11-24 year olds are being given a seat at the table with key decision makers, contributing towards Government research, bringing local communities together and enhancing local green spaces for everyone.

Cath Hare, Our Bright Future Programme Manager says; ‘We’re giving young people a voice and the tools to make a difference in their local community, which is really inspiring for all ages. The £33 million investment, made possible thanks to National Lottery players, has been instrumental in supporting young people to connect, be empowered, develop new skills and improve their wellbeing. Enthusing young people about environmental issues now will lead to a lifelong passion for environmental improvements. I’m sure we will see many great things from Our Bright Future alumni’.

Peter Ainsworth, Chair of The National Lottery Community Fund, said: ‘It’s fantastic to see how young people across the UK have been motivated and encouraged by this project. Thanks to National Lottery players, nearly 100,000 young people have played an active role in shaping the future of their local environment. An investment like this is a great start to empowering and inspiring young people to help make their own futures brighter and their communities thrive.’

For more information and to get involved in an Our Bright Future project visit: