A youth led green revolution is taking place across England, as 5000 young people create, organise and run environmental social action projects to make their schools and communities better places to learn and to live in by improving access to nature and addressing the global climate crisis.
The young people – called Green Influencers – have all been recruited through the Green Influencers Scheme, a three year match funded project between educational charity The Ernest Cook Trust and the #iwill Fund. Its target was to recruit 5000 Green Influencers, which it reached ahead of the scheme’s third annual conference, held in Derbyshire.
At the conference – which was entirely organised and run by young people – some of the Green Influencers showcased work they have been doing and spoke passionately about what the environment meant to them.
This included Green Influencers from Polygon School in Southampton – Jack, Ivan, Aden, Owen, Tyler, Tash and Harley, aged between 12 and 14 – who have set up a project called The Green Phone Initiative to repair broken mobile phones and prevent electronic waste from going into landfill. They have turned it into an enterprise, as the donated phones are mended and then sold on at a small profit. This also helps people on low incomes to buy preowned phones. The team has even made a sales video.
Under The Green Influencers Scheme, The Ernest Cook Trust has given grants to 36 host organisations to support the employment of 44 Green Mentors. The Green Mentors’ role is to enable young people to lead the way as Green Influencers on environmental social action projects in their schools or communities.
The Green Influencers Scheme is match funded through the #iwill Fund. The #iwill Fund is made possible thanks to 66 million pound 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 Green Influencers Scheme conference also featured youth led workshops, showcasing other Green Influencers projects:
The Planet People (Gosforth East Middle School, Newcastle-on-Tyne) – the pupils are building an eco classroom, using bricks created from two litre plastic bottles, filled with single use plastic.
Hamstead Hall School Green Influencers, Birmingham – the pupils have been learning about the impact of food on carbon use and the importance of carbon literacy and have created a resource to teach other schools in their area about these subjects.
Regional Youth Climate Assembly (RYCA), Yorkshire and the Humber – this workshop looked at a vision for a youthled green future, how they developed their manifesto and the partnerships which have helped influence social action on a regional, national and international scale.
HedgeHunters, Hull – working with the University of Hull, the Green Influencers looked at the importance of hedgerows and demonstrated the citizen science app they helped design, which maps gaps in hedgerows.
Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s Young Rangers – working with Babbling Vagabonds Theatre, Green Influencers created an innovative energy saving campaign via an animated film.
As well as organising the conference, speakers and workshops, the youth conference committee members Mohammed, Olivia, Tasneem and Esther also had key roles on the day as masters of ceremony for plenary sessions and running publicity and social media.
Speaking at the conference, Dr Ian Gambles, interim chief executive of The Ernest Cook Trust, said everyone had a responsibility to understand and try to solve the issue of climate change and the wider impacts on nature. He said, ‘All of us have this stewardship responsibility but children and young people will be here longer, will teach the next generation how to care for our world, and will face the growing challenges of the climate and nature crises as they start to bite deeper through the century. I am delighted that we have been able to be part of building this fantastic network of mentors and influencers who have done, and are continuing to, do so much to bring these challenges, and the positive ways we can respond to them, to the forefront of young peoples’ minds.’ Helen Whyman, head of the #iwill Fund, added: ‘The purpose of the #iwill Fund is to increase the opportunities for young people to take part in high quality youth social action across England. We have seen that in fantastic ways across the Green Influencers Scheme and the work they have been doing in environmental youth social action.’ For information about the Green Influencers Scheme visit The Ernest Cook Trust at https://ernestcooktrust.org.uk/ or e-mail email@example.com