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 One Planet Pioneers led by Middlesbrough Environment City. One Planet Pioneers is a partnership alongside Tees Valley Wildlife Trust and ACTES Trust. There are three main aims of the project:
- Improve social cohesion by bringing together people from all walks of life
- Help tackle vulnerability by building confidence, self-esteem and resilience in our young people
- Create and increase employability skills and opportunities by up skilling young people through training activities and courses, either as a volunteer or apprentice
In order to achieve these aims we have been delivering taster sessions, events and activities to young people aged 11 to 24 across Middlesbrough such as youth panels, community growing projects, Conservation and Sustainability activities, Forest School and John Muir awards.
Banna Faidulla (above), 18, has been involved as a volunteer on the One Planet Pioneers Project since spring 2018 working on a campaign within her Sixth Form Academy to successfully reduce the alarming rates of single use plastics that students were using in the canteen on a daily basis.
When asked about how One Planet Pioneers has empowered her to make a real difference she said: “This project has helped me make a difference to our local community as it’s enabled us to pinpoint the problems that we felt were significant, rather than being told what to do.
“It’s very empowering to be trusted to deliver a campaign and make decisions on our own (with the help and guidance of OPP) and we’ve learned many skills along the way.
“Seeing students in school and college using our bottles is incredible as it shows how everyone is coming together, and how collectively we can lessen our own plastic waste within such a large institution.”
She has now finished her A-levels and is moving out of the area to study Geography at University, leaving a legacy within the Academy to continue with focusing on reducing the use of plastics.
Alongside this hard work, Banna has also contributed a lot of time to the project by being an active member of the Our Bright Future Youth Forum, attended Youth Strike for Climate Change and recently been nominated at the local BME awards.
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.
Eleven- to 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.
Our Bright Future Programme Manager Cath Hare said: “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 www.ourbrightfuture.co.uk