Green Academies Project

Green Academies Project volunteer Jacko teaches bug hunting with young teens

The Green Academies Project enables young people to look after the green spaces where they live. We empower young people to understand the challenges faced by the environment, recognise the important role nature plays in our lives, and be part of the future of nature conservation.

Six of our places are working alongside young people and communities to look after the places important to them in Birmingham, South London, Greater Manchester, Newcastle and Wrexham.

To celebrate the 2019 Year of Green Action, the young people of the Green Academies Project share how they have taken action to help their local green spaces, and why they want to encourage others to do the same.

Birmingham

This is where the Green Academies Project all began, back in Birmingham in 2009. Young people have committed more than 20,000 hours of volunteering to date, including planting over 500 bluebell, wild garlic and wood anemone bulbs.

Qasim recently completed a Level 1 Land Management course with the Green Academies Project in Birmingham. He continues to volunteer with the National Trust and gained a seasonal paid role working with Rangers to inspire groups of local young people at The Vibe Youth Centre.

Birmingham Urban Rangers pose with the Green Academies Project Landrover

Qasim, 17

‘I have always loved and respected wildlife and nature. When I came to Birmingham, I found life very difficult at first; but then I heard about the GAP project. When I joined the college course with the National Trust, I was no longer lost. Conservation is what I love and it's what I want to do for the rest of my life.

Recently, we replaced the fence that divides Clent hills and a farmer’s land. By discussing which roles were best suited to our strengths, working together, and a lot elbow grease, the fence was finished on time.’

Morden Hall Park in London

The Morden Urban Rangers advocate for wildlife in London by holding events for their community and creating opportunities for local people to actively look after the park. They presented at the London National Park City Fair and fed into the consultation for the Mayor of London’s Environment Plan. Arjun has started a blog for the Urban Rangers and is encouraging other young people to share their social action stories in a similar way. There is also an Urban Ranger team in Pollards Hill.

Arjun is an Urban Ranger at Morden Hall Park. He works as part of a team of 11-24 year olds to plan, gain funding for, and carry out land management projects from a 10 year wildlife plan at Morden Hall Park.

Green Academies Project Taster Day volunteers hedgelaying

Arjun, 15

‘The Morden Hall Park Urban Rangers get together on a regular basis in order to help the environment. We are a group of around 10 people, and in each session, led by some of the rangers in the park, we help manage the habitats, making it ideal for a variety of species. The group was set up in 2017, and has since won awards for the work completed. In the future it would be brilliant if more people from a wider range of cultures and ages enjoyed and helped the environment.’

Greater Manchester – Dunham Massey and Partington

George is a Partington Urban Ranger, working with a team of young people to make the Redbrook Trail more accessible and improve the community garden at Partington Library. Connecting with nature provides him with a noticeable calmness, overcoming social challenges presented by his learning needs and high anxiety.

George has boundless enthusiasm and is very good at teaching other young people about the conservation work he does, encouraging them to take action to protect the local nature trail.

George and the team put their new skills to the test

George, 13

‘I took part to help the environment and to help the animals that live in their habitat. I wanted something to do in the holidays; I thought it would be good to get out of the house now and again. Since working with the GAP Rangers, I feel I have more confidence and it has stopped me feeling stressed when I go out in my community. In the future I would like to work with the GAP Rangers on different projects.’

Greater Manchester – Quarry Bank and Wythenshawe

Aiden started volunteering through his college and then joined the Wythenshawe Urban Rangers to look after his local green spaces. Using the skills and confidence gained through volunteering with GAP, Aiden successfully gained a Supported Internship and Manchester Airport. Groups like Aiden’s are creating a community garden at the Woodhouse Park Lifestyle Centre.

Aiden helps clear vegetation with the Young Rangers

Aiden, 19

‘I have really enjoyed learning about the natural environment and have gained knowledge about trees and wildlife as well as learning conservation, gardening and health and safety skills. We have participated in clearing vegetation in Chapel Woods, planting hedgerows, removed fencing, trimming hedges and cutting down small trees. At Youth Rangers we have cleared steps and pathways to make access safe for the public. This has been especially important to me because it has given me a purpose outside of College and has allowed me to feel part of a community.’

Gibside in the North East

GAP Gibside is working with young people and their local communities in Gateshead, Newcastle, Durham and Sunderland to develop their skills and confidence and improve local green spaces. 

Josh volunteered to gain work experience to compliment his college course. This motivated him to continue pursuing a career in Land Management by progressing onto a college course. 

GAP Rangers at Gibside make natural fences

Josh, 16

'I’ve enjoyed working outside and the variety of tasks and jobs I’ve undertaken, especially planting bulbs in the garden area and bulbs for the honesty box. Working here has helped with my progression choice for college. I have now registered as a National Trust Volunteer. GAP has allowed me to participate in hands on activities.'

Erddig and Wrexham

We established a Youth Club at Felin Puleston Countryside Centre back in 1999. Now Felin Puleston is a community hub where young people have planted an orchard, built a natural play area and even welcomed some resident scarecrows in to the garden.

Esther wanted to look after the environment for her local community to enjoy now and in the future. She and the ‘Friends of Felin’ volunteers carry out wildlife surveys, searching for butterflies, reptiles and other wildlife that share the Erddig estate.

Esther and the Felin volunteers take a break

Esther, 18

‘I joined the group because I wanted to play my part in the active conservation and promotion of natural environments. Being outdoors makes me feel grateful and ultimately empowered. I would like future generations to have the same opportunities that I have had. Not only to enjoy our environment, but all other aspects of modern life that are currently sustained by it. I want my generation to leave a legacy to be proud of!’

Our Bright Future at Coleg Cambria

Our Bright Future 

GAP is part of Our Bright Future, a cross-organisational programme led by The Wildlife Trusts to inspire young people to look after their local environment and become advocates for nature. The Trust works with many local organisations to deliver GAP, and has received £1 million of support from the Big Lottery Fund.