Young people’s mental health, self-confidence and employability have been boosted by participating in nature projects across the UK, according to a report on the £33m programme.
More than 128,000 people between the ages of 11 and 24 participated in the Our bright future Scheme. The 31 projects have improved 3,000 community spaces and created 350 areas rich in nature, from a vandalized churchyard in Hull to a reconstructed quarry in County Down. The program was led by the Wildlife Trusts and funded by the National Lottery Community Trust.
Almost all participants (95%) felt that their confidence had been improved by participating, while 86% said it had improved their mental health. Two-thirds of them said their appreciation for the natural world and their belief that they could make a difference in their local environment had increased significantly.
The community garden at St Hilda’s Church in Hull has long been covered in litter and has been the focus of anti-social behaviour. Now it is a wildlife area with flowers that attract butterflies and a pond for amphibians. Seeds of native wildflowers and herbs from a nearby nature reserve were used to restore the Aughrim Quarry in County Down.
Craig Bennett, CEO of wild animals The funds said: “Our natural world is the bedrock of our society but it is under severe pressure.
“This report proves how important it is to give young people hands-on experience to learn about nature and climate. We need to nurture a new generation of environmental leaders to find solutions to the biggest environmental challenges of our time.”
James Stubbs participated in the Middlesbrough One Planet Pioneers project when he was 19, which developed young people’s skills through environmental projects. He said of the scheme: “It gave me an opportunity to start a career in a sector that I have always been passionate about.
“Having had 19 out of 24 months unemployed since I left college, it’s something I never thought would happen.”
Stubbs now works as a project officer at Sustrans, promoting cycling.
Our Bright Future Program has resulted in nearly 9,000 young people obtaining qualifications and 1,600 gaining work experience. The report, by evaluators from the Economic Research Service and Collingwood Environmental Planning, also found that more than 200 young entrepreneurs have started businesses or social enterprises, including selling jewelry made from items found while cleaning up trash on the beach.
spend time in ForestsAnd the wetlands And other natural spaces to improve mental health and Reducing loneliness in cities. Another recent study found that a A “dose” of nature for two hours a week significantly boosted health and luxury.
It was the government of Liz Truss slammed By the country’s leading nature and rural organizations on plans to lower regulations that protect the environment.
Mia Rose Craig, Founder Black 2 Nature The Wildlife Trusts ambassador, said, “Access to nature has a profound impact not only on young people’s environmental awareness but also on their physical and mental health. I hope others realize that there is a great desire among young people to work towards a better future for all of us.”