The outdoor industry in the UK has been hit hard by 2020. With events and residentials cancelled, many have been shut with a fear of never reopening. That’s why it’s relieving to hear that the National Lottery Heritage Fund (on behalf of Defra) has awarded a £2.5 million grant to Access Unlimited. Access Unlimited is a coalition of outdoor education and activity providers which includes YHA (England and Wales), The Outward Bound Trust, Scouts, Girlguiding, Field Studies Council and 10 English National Parks. The grant funds will be shared between these members.
The grant has been particularly awarded to support Access Unlimited’s Generation Green Project. This 16 month project will start in March 2020 and be head by YHA. The aim is to provide more than 100,000 progressive opportunities to connect young people with nature. There will be a particular focus on BAME, coastal communities and disadvantaged backgrounds.
“The environment workforce is one of least diverse workforces in England,” says the YHA. “From thousands of opportunities for light touch micro volunteering; to connecting some young people to nature and the outdoors for the first time, activities delivered through Generation Green will help create the spark for new groups of young people to see their career aspirations in the environment and outdoor learning sector.”
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The funding will enable the retention of 20 jobs in the sector, as well as creating new jobs, paid internships and apprenticeships, 30 Kickstart placements and over 600 skilled volunteer roles in the outdoors sector. Micro volunteering projects for young people might include tree planting or overnight stays in AONBs and National Parks. There will also be social action/citizen science projects – all with the aim of fostering a love of nature in young people.
James Blake, the Chief Executive of the YHA said, “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.”
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