Bristol-based charity Action for Conservation, which offers conservation education to secondary school students, has been awarded a grant of £25,000 in recognition of the inspirational leadership by the founder of the organisation, Hendrikus van Hensbergen.
Hendrikus was presented with the award from Postcode Local Trust, a grant-giving charity funded entirely by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, this week in Bristol by Postcode Local Trust trustee, Claire MacDonald.
Hendrikus founded Action for Conservation in 2015, having been troubled by the fact that only 21% of UK children are sufficiently engaged with nature, and ¾ of children spend less time outside than prison inmates. He wanted to provide young people with meaningful pathways into conservation, so they would feel moved by the natural world and compelled to protect it. His own love of nature was cultivated growing up in a Spanish mountain range, and he went on to pursue a career in the environmental sector after university. Having never set out to start up a charity, a visit to his old secondary school to talk about his work alerted him to what could be possible if young people were recruited to the conservation cause.
Action for Conservation encourages students to connect with the natural world through its week long residential summer camps and WildEd workshops, which have been offered to students in London and Bristol and are soon to be expanded to Manchester and Liverpool. The workshops culminate in a ‘Dragons Den’ event with children pitching their conservation ideas to a panel of experts. The programmes have proven to be hugely successful with 98% of students involved having a better understanding of what conservation is and its importance, and 86% being excited about the role they could play.
Hendrikus expressed his gratitude for the support that Action for Conservation has received from Postcode Local Trust. He said: “Awards like this make all the difference to a small charity and to have funders who understand and are supportive of our mission means the world to us! It is both incredibly touching and motivating to be in receipt of this award.”
Clara Govier, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, congratulated Hendrikus: “With 53% of UK species in decline it is more important than ever to encourage the next generation of conservationists. Hendrikus lives his vision by energising the students he works with to develop a love and appreciation of nature so they are equipped with the inspiration and motivation to be the drivers of change.”
For more information on People’s Postcode Lottery, please visit www.postcodelottery.co.uk