Ambitious plans to improve the environment in and around the River Tees, its estuary and the surrounding coast in the Tees Valley will be spearheaded by young people, thanks to a new scheme which has brought funding into the area.
The Junction Foundation was among 22 charities to successfully bid for funding from the Blue Influencers Scheme, and is being awarded £20,000 a year for three years.
The grant will help pay for the employment of a Blue Mentor whose role is to recruit young people to become ‘Blue Influencers’. These young people, aged 10 to 14, with the support of their Blue Mentor, will create and run social action schemes to improve the environment of their schools, neighbourhoods and communities.
The Blue Influencers Scheme is a groundbreaking project from UK outdoor education charity The Ernest Cook Trust, with the ambition to support young people from underserved communities and those living in deprived coastal, estuary and riverside locations, by empowering them to tackle environmental and climate issues.
The £2.25 million Scheme is being match-funded by The Ernest Cook Trust and the #iwill Fund, and will run for three years. Its ambition is to engage more than 4,000 young people as ‘Blue Influencers’, as well as over 15,000 community members across England.
The #iwill Fund is made possible thanks to £66 million joint investment from The National Lottery Community Fund and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to support young people to access high quality social action opportunities. The Ernest Cook Trust is acting as a match funder and awarding grants on behalf of the #iwill Fund.
The Scheme is entirely youth-led, and even the selection of The Junction Foundation, along with 21 other registered charities, was made by The Ernest Cook Trust’s Youth Advisory Board, made up entirely of young people aged 14-21. Additional funds up to £5,000 will also be available for specific projects, and it will again be the Youth Advisory Board members who approve these awards.
Ed Ikin, Chief Executive of The Ernest Cook Trust, said the Blue Influencers Scheme would lead the way in empowering young people to take action.
“Young people are often the most passionate about the environment and are very aware of the issues we face with climate change. The Blue Influencers Scheme will give them the funding, platform and tools they need to make positive changes to benefit their entire community,” he said.
“We were pleased to select The Junction Foundation to join the Blue Influencers Scheme and are excited to see just what the young people come up with.”
Beth Major the Chief Executive of The Junction Foundation said: “We support children and young people who want to take positive action and make their voices heard. Last year the children and young people of The Junction Heart delivered the All Our Future climate change conference. Following on from that, the Blue Influences Group, which is open to everyone in the Tees Valley between the ages of 10 and 14, will go on to participate in the decisions that impact on their environment and deliver projects to help improve it.”
The Blue Influencers Scheme is a successor to the three-year Green Influencers Scheme, which ran in a similar way and was also match-funded by The Ernest Cook Trust and the #iwill Fund. However, the Blue Influencers Scheme’s focus is on coastal, riverside and estuary locations and also emphasises giving young people opportunities to learn skills which will aid their employment prospects.
For more information about The Ernest Cook Trust’s Blue Influencers Scheme visit https://ernestcooktrust.org.uk/what-we-do/green-influencers-scheme/.
For more about The Junction Foundation visit https://thejunctionfoundation.com/
Pupils from St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Morecambe, help with the launch of the Blue Influencers Scheme, which coincided with the annual Great British Beach Clean.