The next generation of environmental leaders

Young people in South Leeds step up to create a brighter, greener future

Environmental charity Groundwork is delighted to be one of more than 30 organisations who have signed up to inspire the next generation of environmental leaders across Leeds following a £33 million pound investment from the Big Lottery Fund.

Groundwork young volunteers

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.

Groundwork is working with schools in Leeds, including The South Leeds Academy. In the first year the charity will work with 50 young people who will develop plans for how they want to transform a local area. The young people will then work with volunteers and Groundwork staff to put the plans into place. Through the project the young people will develop team working and project management skills. They will learn about how to develop community green spaces so that they benefit people in the local area and the environment.

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.

Paula Hinsley, Lifelong Learning Manager at Groundwork, said:

“We are thrilled to be a part of this innovative programme in Leeds. With 30 years of experience of helping young people play an active role in their communities, we have seen first-hand the impact that comes from giving them a voice and recognising that the youth of today are the decision makers of tomorrow. We look forward to supporting them to shape their local communities for the better.”

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.”