New funding for young city volunteers scheme

GAP volunteer in action at Clent Hills
Published : 14 Mar 2016 Last update : 16 Mar 2016

The Big Lottery Fund has awarded us almost £1m to give more young people the chance to help care for natural places in five cities.

One of over thirty projects to benefit from the £33m ‘Our Bright Future fund’, the Green Academies Project 2 (GAP2) is based at six of our places.

Involving various local partners, GAP2 will work with people aged from 11 to 24 in Birmingham, south London, Greater Manchester, Newcastle and Wrexham. UpRising, a youth leadership development organisation, will help us deliver the programme.

Proven model

We will use the funds to extend GAP, a volunteering programme which has already been successful in Birmingham. It offers training and volunteering opportunities to young people in partnership with Birmingham City Council’s Parks and Nature Conservation department and Birmingham Youth Services.

The programme’s volunteers have already given over 20,000 hours of their time, working at our places and local green spaces in Birmingham. They’ve helped with planting four new orchards and laying over 350 metres of hedgerow.

Volunteer success

Former GAP volunteers have gone on to enjoy careers in horticulture and nature conservation.

Allen Downing, a father-of-two started volunteering with the Green Academies Project (GAP) in 2012.  He now works with the landscaping team at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham.

‘I’d got into a rut trying to get work,’ he says. ‘But it wasn’t work I was really interested in. GAP has given me the chance to find out what I do enjoy doing.’  

‘I feel like I’ve moved forward as a person. I’m more confident speaking to people. I’m actually being paid to do what I enjoy.’

A movement for change

Our urban green space project manager in Birmingham and leader for GAP2, Dee Whittle welcomes the opportunity to extend the project to other cities.

‘Young people can be among the most marginalised groups in our society. With the help of Our Bright Future and our local partners, we have the chance to support more people in England and Wales to shape their local and natural environment.’

GAP2 will be based at:
•    Birmingham: Clent Hills and Birmingham City (Back to Backs)
•    South London: Morden Hall Park
•    Greater Manchester: Dunham Massey and Quarry Bank
•    Newcastle: Gibside
•    Wrexham: Erddig

Our staff at these places will work with local education, youth and conservation partners to develop the volunteering programmes. They will include opportunities for young people to achieve informal or formal conservation qualifications and activities to engage the wider community with local green spaces.

GAP2 is part of the National Trust’s wider efforts to support people to look after the green spaces where they live. Over the coming decade we will be testing ways to connect people to their local green spaces and helping people to play a part in caring for these special places.

Volunteer with visitors in the kitchen garden at Osterley Park and House, London


Each year thousands of volunteers join us in caring for all the special places you love. See what things they help us do and find the latest opportunities.