Young people take action to improve Lancashire’s environment
Ambitious plans to improve the environment in and around the Fylde Coast in Lancashire will be spearheaded by young people, thanks to a new scheme which has brought funding into the area.
Lancashire Wildlife Trust was among 22 charities to successfully bid for funding from the Blue Influencers Scheme and is being awarded £20,000 a year for three years.
The grant will help pay for the employment of a Blue Mentor whose role is to recruit young people to become ‘Blue Influencers’. These young people aged 10 to 14, with the support of their Blue Mentor, will create and run social action schemes to improve the environment of their schools, neighbourhoods and communities.
The Blue Influencers Scheme is a groundbreaking project from UK outdoor education charity The Ernest Cook Trust, with the ambition to support young people from underserved communities and those living in deprived coastal, estuary and riverside locations, by empowering them to tackle environmental and climate issues.
The £2.25 million Scheme is being match-funded by The Ernest Cook Trust and the #iwill Fund, and will run for three years. Its ambition is to engage more than 4,000 young people as ‘Blue Influencers’, as well as over 15,000 community members across England.
The #iwill Fund is made possible thanks to £66 million joint investment from The National Lottery Community Fund and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to support young people to access high quality social action opportunities. The Ernest Cook Trust is acting as a match funder and awarding grants on behalf of the #iwill Fund.
The Scheme is entirely youth-led, and even the selection of Lancashire Wildlife Trust, along with 21 other registered charities, was made by The Ernest Cook Trust’s Youth Advisory Board, made up entirely of young people aged 14-21. Additional funds up to £5,000 will also be available for specific projects, and it will again be the Youth Advisory Board members who approve these awards.
Ed Ikin, Chief Executive of The Ernest Cook Trust, said the Blue Influencers Scheme would lead the way in empowering young people to take action:
“Young people are often the most passionate about the environment and are very aware of the issues we face with climate change. The Blue Influencers Scheme will give them the funding, platform and tools they need to make positive changes to benefit their entire community,” he said.
“We were pleased to select Lancashire Wildlife Trust to join the Blue Influencers Scheme and are excited to see just what the young people come up with.”
Amy Pennington, Fylde Sand Dunes Project Officer at the Lancashire Wildlife Trust said:
“We’re incredibly excited to embrace the opportunity to be a host organisation for the Blue Influencers Scheme by the Ernest Cook Trust. This initiative is a beacon of hope for the young minds along the Lancashire Coast.
“In schools, we learn about climate change as a global challenge, and indeed it is. However, what often gets overlooked is the profound impact on a local scale. Coastal communities hold the key to understanding the intricacies of climate change at the grassroots level. The Blue Influencers scheme is our chance to empower young people to immerse themselves in the challenges and opportunities of our coastlines.
“As an environmental charity deeply committed to conservation and community engagement, we recognise the urgent need to equip the next generation. Our coastal communities face unique challenges and opportunities in the climate crisis, making it paramount to involve young minds in conversation. The decisions we make now will directly affect their future, and they deserve a seat at the table.
“Through mentorship, guidance, and a passion for coastal conservation, we are ready to nurture the leaders of tomorrow. Our commitment is not just to the environment but to the young voices who will shape the destiny of our coasts. Let’s inspire change, one wave at a time.”
The Blue Influencers Scheme is a successor to the three-year Green Influencers Scheme, which ran in a similar way and was also match-funded by The Ernest Cook Trust and the #iwill Fund. However, the Blue Influencers Scheme’s focus is on coastal, riverside and estuary locations and also emphasises giving young people opportunities to learn skills which will aid their employment prospects.
For more information about The Ernest Cook Trust’s Blue Influencers Scheme visit https://ernestcooktrust.org.uk/what-we-do/green-influencers-scheme/.
For more about Lancashire Wildlife Trust visit Lancashire Wildlife Trust | Your Local Conservation Charity (lancswt.org.uk)