As the world gears up for COP26, an ambitious scheme to create a network of young people in England, enthused about the environment, has recruited 1,500 Green Influencers.
The Green Influencers Scheme is run by the Gloucestershire headquartered Ernest Cook Trust, a national educational charity, which granted 37 host organisations funding 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 social action projects in their communities.
In the Gloucestershire area, the group taking part is Cheltenham-based Young Gloucestershire.
Across England there are now 1,500 Green Influencers and the scheme is on target to enlist 5,000 young people between the ages of 10 and 14 to improve the environment for their schools and communities.
With COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference starting on October 31, and world leaders gathering in Glasgow to discuss global climate issues, the Green Influencers Scheme is demonstrating how young people are already trying to make a difference by getting engaged with their environment and improving the communities they live in.
The pioneering Green Influencers Scheme is a project match-funded through the #iwill Fund which is funded by The National Lottery Community Fund and Department of Culture, Media & Sport which are each investing £27million seed funding to support young people to access high-quality social action opportunities.
One of the Green Mentors, Alex Pang, whose host organisation is Global Action Plan, is working with 40 primary school pupils from three schools in Lambeth. They are part of a wider Lambeth Schools Air Quality Programme, which aims to improve air quality in a school’s environment.
The children have chosen to tackle the problem of engines being left running. Alex said: “I have been amazed by the students’ maturity in learning about air pollution, as well as their creativity and enthusiasm in coming up with ambitious ideas to help raise awareness about the issue. They have all worked hard to produce a range of informative and interesting materials, such as posters, letters, and a video.”
As well as funding Green Mentors, The Ernest Cook Trust provides grants towards some of the projects designed and implemented by the Green Influencers. So far, these include a platform in Torbay to make accessing a local pond and its wildlife easier; a workbook for schools on the importance of wildlife in hedgerows, written and published by Green Influencers in Hull; and giving out seed packs to local residents in Southwark, London.
Applications for larger grants are assessed by The Ernest Cook Trust’s Youth Advisory Board, a group of eight driven and passionate 14 to 20-year-olds who recommend applications for funding to the Trust’s Board of Trustees.
Dr Victoria Edwards OBE, Chief Executive of The Ernest Cook Trust, said: “What’s significant about the Green Influencers Scheme is the reach it has, and we are thrilled to be on course to enlisting 5,000 young people. The enthusiasm of those involved is inspiring, and we have been so impressed with their ideas and their creativity. We are very grateful to the Green Mentors for the guidance they are giving.
“By establishing a Youth Advisory Board to assess applications for funding for projects, we are ensuring this really is a youth-led scheme, which will having lasting benefits to schools and communities.
“While the world talks about climate change, the young people of our country are getting out there and making a difference.”