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Thousands of young people from diverse backgrounds are being given the chance to connect with nature.

Good news hasn’t always been easy to come by recently – but here’s an exception. More than 100,000 young people are being given the opportunity to connect with nature through new jobs, training, volunteering roles, residentials and outdoor learning experiences. The National Lottery Heritage Fund, in partnership with Natural England and the Environment Agency, has awarded a £2.5m Green Recovery Challenge Fund grant to a coalition of outdoor education providers known as Access Unlimited, which includes YHA (England & Wales), The Outward Bound Trust, Scouts, Girlguiding, Field Studies Council and the 10 English National Parks.

YHA is leading the 15-strong coalition in the delivery of the project, known as Generation Green. It commenced in March 2021 and will be rolled out across England, prioritising young people from BAME groups, disadvantaged backgrounds and coastal communities. The 16-month project will retain 20 jobs and create 10 new ones, as well as funding a paid internship, 30 Kickstart placements and seven apprenticeships, on top of developing 659 skilled volunteer roles in the outdoor industry. It’s also the first step in government support for the recommendation in the Glover Review that every child should spend a night under the stars in a National Landscape.

James Blake, chief executive at YHA, explained: “I am delighted at what Access Unlimited has achieved for the sector in a relatively short period. The award of the grant funding demonstrates the power of collective action.

“When developing YHA’s new 10-year strategy we realised our scale of ambition to reach five million young people over the next five years was not something we could do alone; it was through partnership and collaboration. The development of Access Unlimited focused on bringing together our not-for-profit delivery partners to offer practical solutions to the fact that too many young people do not have access to connections or careers in nature.

“The steps we now all take together will deliver real opportunities to thousands of young people who have been impacted by the pandemic – many of whom faced lockdown without gardens or access to green spaces. It is a tremendously exciting and hugely positive end to an otherwise challenging year, not only for YHA but the outdoor education sector as a whole.”

Generation Green

Photo credit: Unsplash/Nathaniel Ramirez

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