Wowed in Wales: 2018 Our Bright Future seminar

Last month the 2018 annual Our Bright Future all project seminar took place. Staff and Youth Forum members from across the UK gathered in Cardiff to celebrate the programme, learn from each other and plan ahead. Share Learn Improve Coordinator, Abi Paine shares her experience.

Exactly one month to the day that I first started as Share Learn Improve Coordinator for Our Bright Future, I stood at the doors to the third all project annual seminar, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the 31 projects I’d heard so much about. And wow was I bowled over!

The sheer buzz of energy that grew as each person or team entered the room was awe inspiring – people greeting each other as old friends, introducing new staff and catching up on the last year. Some were clad in t-shirts displaying their project logos (which helped me immensely as a newcomer!) and Youth Forum members were starting to arrive in their cheerful bright green hoodies.

As the room filled with nearly 100 people who had travelled from all corners of the UK, it was clear how important it was for everyone there to feel part of that bigger movement for change, and to grasp the opportunity to get together and share. Not to just share progress, but also share challenges, suggestions for collaboration and ideas about legacy and the future.

It was great to see highlights from the last year and insights from individual projects. It truly demonstrated the momentum that is building as part of Our Bright Future, with some of those early young people who took part as volunteers, now securing apprenticeships or working in roles within the organisations that ignited their passion.

We heard the Youth Forum speak about their experiences with confidence and enthusiasm that kept the audience rapt. The stand out quote for me was from one member, describing their time on the forum and as part of their project:

“I finally found a group of people in love with the environment as much as I am”. They gave accounts of wanting to influence policy, planning to spread their message, to mobilise their communities and bring positive change to the areas they live in.

It also demonstrated how the programme is generating ground swell at a national level. On day two, everyone heard about the summarised policy asks – the key changes that young people from across the projects would like to see in relation to the environment. The discussions that ensued covered everything from increasing volunteering opportunities, ‘greening education’ and how other governments might respond to Wales’ Wellbeing and Future Generations Act.

Although the seminar agenda was packed, the ‘down time’ seemed just as energetic and full of purpose. With conversations about project exchange visits, shared experiences of engaging hard to reach groups and the swell of motivation gained from being in a room full of people all working hard to connect young people and the environmental sector.

By the end of the second day (and just about recovering from Johnny from vInspired’s infamous quiz) I felt like I was going to burst. Not just with SLI ideas but also with inspiration – with the knowledge that all these people and everyone involved in the programme nationwide – are working together for Our Bright Future.

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