CSE’s Bright Green Future (BGF) developed 193 young leaders with skills to influence decision-making on energy and environment in their local area. The project supported young people through; skills development; practical project leadership; ‘policy and influence’ placements and a residential week to provide BFGers with peer-to-peer learning, challenging and stimulating speakers and activities to develop skills and confidence.
In a survey of past participants:
- 81% reported improved confidence
- 79% reported improved self-esteem
- 92% reported feeling more confident about being able to shape and influence the local planning system to positively affect the environment.
Companies and organisations involved in running workshops/speaking with BFG students included: Town and Country Planning Association, Triodos Bank, FairShare, Scottish Government, Friends of the Earth, Good Energy and Black and Green Ambassadors for Bristol. The speakers provided inspiration to the students and while giving them the opportunity to platform their sustainability and social justice work to a youth audience.
“Coming out of the weekend, I am a changed person. I am more aware of the problems we’re facing, but I feel empowered to do more about it, inspired by the stories of the activists I’m surrounded by. I leave full of hope for the future. I also leave with more knowledge about myself. And that is always a good thing.”
“It has made me consider career paths which I had not previously thought about. It has also made me more conscious in my everyday life of what I can do to live more sustainably.”
85 local projects were completed through the project, tackling a wide variety of issues, the most common being waste or plastic reduction and energy and climate change. The most popular project types were running an eco-event at school or in their community, running an awareness raising campaign, wildflower planting or community gardening. Through these local projects, an estimated 3,960 young people have been reached. This number is based on the students’ local projects and how many people their work reached through mechanisms such as school assemblies, talks with primary schools and local community outreach. For many students, the local project was the first time they had had the opportunity to develop, manage and deliver their own project from start to finish. Local projects not only provided an opportunity to explore a sustainability topic of their choice, but from our survey responses, 92% of students reported that they gained new skills and knowledge in low carbon project management. These skills included time management, team working and planning.
Several BGF students from have come together to organise and run a BGF alumni network. This demonstrates the legacy of the programme and represents a fantastic opportunity for graduating BGF students to stay in touch, continue to be empowered and inspire each other. The alumni coordination group have also created an Instagram group chat and mailing list to further promote the opportunities and collaboration among alumni and current cohorts, as well a LinkedIn group to share professional opportunities to share opportunities in the sustainability and environmental sector.
In 2019, BGF students took part in Our Bright Future’s parliamentary event to present young people’s opinions on the environment to policy makers. The students met with MPs to talk to them about the changes they
wish to see and the issues affecting them. Matthew wrote about the experience in this blog.