21 year old Caitlin from Warrington shares her experience of being part of the Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Youth Council.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been an incredibly trying time for many people, particularly taking a toll on the mental health of young people. As a student on a year off from university, I was struggling to get through the minefield of lockdown and restrictions. However, thanks to the Carbon Landscape Youth Summit in August 2020, I was made aware of the Youth Council and put my application in straight away!

Being part of the Youth Council during the pandemic has been such an enjoyable experience, having a group of likeminded young people to bounce off as well as a cause to throw myself into during a very hard time was extremely valuable to me. I have been lucky to have some great experiences – including nearly appearing on Blue Peter’s Halloween special to discuss bats! Unfortunately filming had to be cancelled due to COVID – maybe next time!

During my time as a council member I was made aware of the 31 incredible Our Bright Future projects across the country that our supporting young people and their relationship with nature, especially when I attended the Our Bright Future annual seminar as a Youth Representative of the Lancashire Wildlife Trusts amazing ecotherapy project ‘Myplace’. I found this online event incredibly inspiring because sometimes being a young person that’s passionate about the environment can be quite isolating, however the seminar really highlighted to me how many other young people in the UK are enthusiastic about getting involved with their local environments.

My confidence has really improved since being part of the Council, particularly in public speaking. During my time on the council, me and a few other members were lucky enough to get to speak with Cat Smith MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood about mental health and green jobs for young people. This experience made me realise we can engage with and influence our MPs, giving me the confidence to reach out to my own MP and speak out about important issues. Being a part of the council has also made me feel more confident about reaching out to others for opportunities – sometimes we can feel awkward about asking others for help but I’ve learnt that people are always willing to help and you don’t get if you don’t ask!

I have also been given opportunities to develop my existing skills of blog writing and campaigning. I had been involved with environmental campaigns in the past, but the Youth Council has educated me on how to engage with and support them effectively, such as their 30 by 30 campaign. This important campaign is calling for at least 30% of our land and sea to be connected and protected for nature’s recovery by 2030, and I am looking forward to supporting it with my new skills from the council.

My time working with the Lancashire Wildlife Trust and being on the council has really solidified my passion for working in conservation and it is definitely a career path I want to pursue after university. Supporting funding bids, making educational videos, and connecting with others are just a few of the things I got to enjoy while being a council member; and I will take the valuable skills I gained from them forward in my career.

I am extremely grateful for the people I have met and the experiences I have had during my time on the youth council, and I hope future members have as great an experience as I did and enjoy every opportunity!