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Saturday, 23 October 2021
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£2.5m project to increase opportunities for young people in the outdoor sector launched

A 16-month project that will create hundreds of jobs and volunteering opportunities in the outdoor sector has been launched by a 15-strong Access Unlimited coalition of outdoor education providers led by YHA (England & Wales) this week.

Already 15 new jobs have been created through the Generation Green project, which will help more young people get outside and connect with nature. Further jobs, Kickstart and volunteer roles are now live on a brand new website – www.yha.org.uk/GenerationGreen.

The website also lists residentials and outdoor and online learning experiences, which education providers, youth organisations and individuals are now invited to get involved with.

Ahead of the delivery of Generation Green-funded programmes, interest in the individual coalition members’ programmes has been strong. More than 10,000 young people from 300 schools and Scouts groups have already registered for Scouts Green Champions and Adventure for All programmes, which nine dedicated Green Volunteers will deliver.

The roles created by YHA (England & Wales), The Outward Bound Trust, Scouts, Girlguiding, Field Studies Council and the 10 English National Parks through the Generation Green project will enable more than 100,000 young people in the UK to be connected to nature through individual projects delivered nationally by the coalition members.

With the environment workforce being recognised as one of the least diverse workforces in England, the £2.5 million project, which is funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and is administered by the National Lottery Heritage, will prioritise young people from BAME groups, disadvantaged backgrounds and coastal communities.

YHA is leading the 15-strong coalition in the delivery of the Generation Green project, which secured funding late in 2020. The youth hostelling charity has overall accountability for delivery of the project, which will see each coalition members play to their strengths to deliver the practical aspects of the Generation Green project.

Ensuring YHA maximises its reach amongst young people through its Generation Green funded projects, the charity has recruited a 12-strong volunteer Youth Advisory Team, which includes Louise Thompson (23), a sustainable product design graduate who is currently unemployed.

Louise said:

“The pandemic has impacted job opportunities in the sector. It’s forced young people like me to lower our expectations and optimism. I feel strongly that Generation Green has the ability to play a key role in re-establishing the outdoor sector and inspire the next generation.

“I feel very privileged to be able to play a role in helping facilitate opportunities in the sector through volunteering, job roles and educational activities to help both the personal and professional development of young people.”

Amongst the projects and activities funded by Generation Green, Outward Bound Trust will be running its outdoor leadership course for young people from Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds following a successful pilot in 2019.

Rehna Yaseen, a mentor on Outward Bound Trust’s Outdoor Leadership course, said:

“I am a British Pakistani, and my version of the outdoors was different when I was growing up. I’d play on my scooter but didn’t know crags and hills. Having someone from the same background, financial situation, culture and religion, etc., encouraging me to enter this whole new world is where I found my passion for the outdoors.

“Being a course mentor is a privilege. Building and maintaining relationships and rapport with the young leaders, being someone they can come to at the time of need is wonderful. Mentoring young people from different ethnic groups receiving opportunities through the Generation Green funding that they possibly wouldn’t have otherwise is life-changing.”

In total, seven apprenticeships, 10 new jobs, a paid internship, 30 YHA Kickstart placements, and 659 skilled volunteer roles in the outdoor sector will be created through Generation Green.

Zoology postgraduate Bek Trehern (26) from Cornwall has secured the paid internship as an engagement and training assistant with Field Studies Council. As part of the internship, she will support the roll-out of subsidised online and centre-based courses targeted at 18 – 25-year-olds.

The internship attracted 250 applications. Dylan Byrne, one of the Generation Green Project Managers at Field Studies Council, explained:

“The internship really struck a chord when we advertised it, and we received a high level of applications. We hope our new courses, which are subsidised through Generation Green, will enable greater accessibility for young people to develop their skillset and, like Bek develop long-term careers in the sector.”

Bek added:

“It is a difficult sector to gain experience as there are so few roles, particularly within bio-diversity. I am delighted to have secured the internship with Field Studies Council.”

Seven apprenticeships have also been created through Generation Green funding. Five apprentices will join YHA, while two Apprentice Rangers are already in place in New Forest National Park.

One of the apprentices, Jordan Jones (23), had always wanted to work outdoors and, attracted by the opportunity to work with partners such as Forestry England and the RSPB – collaborating as a collective ‘Team New Forest’, Jordan applied for the apprentice role.

Jordan said:

“The New Forest is a complex place, and each day I find out more about the special qualities of the area. There’s a lot to tell people, and I have a lot to learn myself, but I really want to get involved where I can.”

In addition to creating new roles, Generation Green funding has also secured a number of at-risk jobs in the sector, including Lucy Oram, Generation Green Project Coordinator for The Scouts.

Furloughed for 10 months prior to being appointed to the role, Lucy said:

“I feel extremely lucky that with the introduction of this project, I was able to be kept on within my role at Scouts. After being furloughed, this is also a very welcome change to get my teeth stuck into.”

Two jobs at risk of displacement as a result of the pandemic have also been secured at Girlguiding through newly created Generation Green roles, including Project Co-ordinator Lisa Bouskill who said:

We’ll be engaging more young people in the design and delivery of our upcoming day and residential events and are very excited to be part of this project, enabling more young people to enjoy the great outdoors.”

Coalition members have each appointed a project manager who will deliver a range of programmes, activities and resources designed to connect young people to the outdoors. Activities delivered through the Generation Green project include micro-volunteering such as bug hotels and tree planting, self-guided learning, day visits and overnight experiences in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding National Beauty, as well as social action/citizen science projects, designed to inspire a love of nature in young people.

All the programmes and activities will be delivered in COVID-secure environments, working closely with government guidelines to ensure experiences in the outdoors are maximised.

To discover more about the opportunities available through Generation Green, visit www.yha.org.uk/Generationgreen.

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