Programme Manager, Cath Hare introduces Our Bright Future
Our young people are becoming disconnected from the natural environment. Humans now spend more than 80% of their time indoors. Kids roam 300 yards on average and not the six miles we did four generations ago. Hence some kids in Cornwall haven’t been to the beach and a large number of kids in Dagenham don’t know there’s a river in London.
Our young people are the next generation of society’s leaders, the people who will shape and run our country, but a third of young people do not feel part of their community, youth unemployment is still high, and the health and wellbeing of young people is an increasing concern.
Recent research has shown that 10% of kids suffer from depression and that the cost of mental health issues to the UK businesses is £30 billion each year.
We depend entirely on a healthy environment for our wellbeing and prosperity. It is absolutely fundamental to our economy and social structures, the liveability of our homes and our neighbourhoods. Being isolated from other people and from nature makes us unhappy and stressed.
Yet somehow society has forgotten all of this. And the next generation are inheriting this sense of disconnection and independence from our environment. Kids spend half the time outside that my generation did. Now, more than ever, we need to invest in improving the connection between this generation and the natural world.
Our Bright Future is doing just that.
Our Bright Future, a new £33 million programme funded by the Big Lottery Fund, is a forward-thinking social movement that supports young people to lead progressive change in their communities and local environment. It is giving young people the opportunity to develop the confidence and resilience needed to be the environmental leaders of tomorrow.
We are creating an unstoppable force of young, engaged, empowered and skilled citizens who are standing up and taking action to shape and create a future they know is possible. By providing the right support and infrastructure, we are helping accelerate and focus this change.
Our Bright Future is made up of 31 impressive projects across the UK. A project in Lancashire will see young people introduce more than 15 million bees into the county to support the decline in the local honey bee population. Another project will see 245 tonnes of food diverted from waste – and this will be used to create 81,000 meals for the most vulnerable in society. A third project will enable young people to develop their own environmental ideas and bid into receiving seed funding to turn ideas into a reality through a national Dragon’s Den style initiative.
But Our Bright Future goes so much further than these significant impacts from individual projects. Collectively we are gathering strong evidence about the development of the environment and young people. In particular, we are looking at the importance of addressing both issues together through growing our green economy.
For our environmental leaders of tomorrow – the future is bright.
The Wildlife Trusts, The Kiln, Mather Road, Newark, Nottinghamshire, NG24 1WT