New youth scheme in Kent and Essex to support budding environmentalists from underrepresented backgrounds

A new youth program has been launched in Kent and Essex to help young people from underrepresented backgrounds pursue careers in conservation.

The Greener Thames youth program will also involve community outreach work, aiming to increase engagement with groups in the area who face various barriers when accessing nature, such as discrimination and lack of access to nature. physical access to green spaces.

A group of four aspiring environmentalists have now signed up for the Youth Programme’s internship program, following a recruitment drive earlier this year in conjunction with socially-oriented outdoor groups Muslim Hikers and Black Girls Hike.

Over the next 12 months, they will develop skills that will help them build careers in the environmental sector, including 4×4 driving and livestock handling. Interns will also develop transferable skills, including public speaking and leadership training, which will help them expand their career opportunities and build their confidence.

The youth program has been set up as part of the Greener Thames Project (see Notes to Editors) – a £1.8million landscape-scale conservation project which aims to restore and enhance over 1,800 hectares of wetland habitat in the Thames Estuary.

The project is funded by the government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund (GRCF) and managed by the RSPB in partnership with the Essex Wildlife Trust, Elmley National Nature Reserve, Kent Wildfowling & Conservation Association and the Kent Wildlife Trust.

Ryan Cooper Henniker, Youth Development Manager for the Greener Thames Project, said: “As a mixed race and gay person it is an amazing opportunity to work on this project and provide real life opportunities for people to diverse backgrounds. . I hope programs like this will spark change in the sector, it will take every community and individual saving nature.

“It was a real pleasure to welcome our new interns to the program. Their enthusiasm for conservation and the environment, and their desire to learn new skills are incredibly motivating for the whole team.

Hashim Rehman, Greener Thames Trainee, said: “Every day at work is surreal knowing that I am contributing to something of this scale and importance. It is a huge honor to work alongside my colleagues on the internship and towards its goals.”

Greener Thames intern Amelia Hursham said: “Since arriving I have been able to bring change to my community, as well as make friends and relationships that will last a lifetime. While learning real-world skills that I will pursue in my career as a scientist. »

A second part of the Greener Thames youth program focuses on community outreach, helping to promote youth voice in nature conservation. The project team is looking for volunteers aged 16-20 to join a Greener Thames Youth Action Group, which will help young people protect and connect with nature across the Thames Estuary.

Young panel members will contribute to the work of the Greener Thames Project by developing ideas and events. Members will learn about wildlife, the environment and nature conservation through outdoor activities and workshops led by conservation experts. They will have the opportunity to bring new ideas to get local youth to engage with nature – especially those from underrepresented groups. Learn more and apply to join the Youth Action Panel.

Victoria Mander, Program Manager of the RSPB Greener Thames Project, said: “Spending time in nature can benefit our physical and mental health in many ways. Unfortunately, not everyone has the same opportunities to access and engage with natural areas, or even pursue a career in conservation if they wish.

“We hope this internship program and youth panel will support similar efforts to address these issues, highlight and find ways to remove the barriers that prevent people from engaging with nature, and act as a future benchmark for increasing representation in the conservation sector.”

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