Peter Ainsworth, Chair of the Big Lottery Fund, shares his excitement as Our Bright Future activity begins
An estate in London’s Hammersmith; it’s not where you’d expect to find much green stuff going on. But it is happening. Earlier this year I met some young people there who had just started training with Groundwork London. They have already made it a better and safer place to live in. One 17 year old, who had just started working with Thames Water, told me that young people really care about their environment and our future. He is advising households about how to use water more carefully and save money.
Through 31 projects across the UK, Our Bright Future will empower young people to make a personal and collective contribution to making our environment brighter, happier and more resilient to threats like climate change and the waste of natural resources.
At the Big Lottery Fund, we want younger people to be better connected with their local environment and have a greater say in how it is shaped. So I’m excited by the variety of the 31 youth-led projects that will use Lottery funding to help young people step up and create what is rightfully theirs – a healthy planet, whilst developing the employment skills crucial to a growing economy. The economy, and people, can only flourish within a thriving natural environment.
One of the first projects to get underway is the Belfast Hills Partnership where pupils are learning about the lifecycle of the Atlantic salmon and the importance of caring for local rivers. Through activities and training young people will be designing and running their own environmental projects along the Colin Glen River including releasing fry into it. Could these pupils be our future fishermen, water management officers or landscape architects?
Our ambition is that through Our Bright Future we will not only see individuals benefit, but help inspire a new generation of young leaders who will take decisions that affect them and their environment, and work to make a sustainable and better future.
I look forward to meeting more young people over the next few years as they get dug in and their projects develop and as they gain new skills fuelled by a passion for the places where they live and work.