New year cash boost will help young environmentalists in Northumberland to take action

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Young people in the region are set to have a great 2024 thanks to a fabulous cash boost.

Now, ambitious plans to improve the environment from the River Tyne to the Scottish Borders will be introduced and spearheaded by young people, and it’s all thanks to a new scheme which has brought the funding into the area.

Northumberland Wildlife Trust 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.

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The grant will help pay for the employment of a Blue Mentor whose role is to recruit young people to become ‘Blue Influencers’.

Exploring the beach at Hauxley nature reserve. Picture: Alex ReynoldsExploring the beach at Hauxley nature reserve. Picture: Alex Reynolds
Exploring the beach at Hauxley nature reserve. Picture: Alex Reynolds

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, with specific focus on areas around the Northumberland coast and near rivers such as in Amble and Blyth.

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.

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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.

Young people visiting a Hauxley nature reserve. Picture: Liz HeardYoung people visiting a Hauxley nature reserve. Picture: Liz Heard
Young people visiting a Hauxley nature reserve. Picture: Liz Heard

Additional funds up to £5,000 will also be available for specific projects, to be approved by the Youth Advisory Board.

Ed Ikin, chief executive of The Ernest Cook Trust, believes the Blue Influencers Scheme will lead the way in empowering young people to take action.

He says: “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.

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“We were pleased to select Northumberland Wildlife Trust to join the Blue Influencers Scheme and are excited to see just what the young people come up with.”

Liz Heard, Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s acting Wild City Manager says:“We’re thrilled to be joining the Blue Influencer Scheme to support young people as they create their own projects that help our coastline and rivers. From our previous work, we know that young people in the north east are passionate about protecting our oceans and cleaning up our waterways so wildlife can thrive.

“The Blue Influencer Scheme offers these young people the opportunity to use their passion, hobbies and creativity to make a real difference through their chosen project.”

The Blue Influencers Scheme is a successor to the three-year Green Influencers Scheme. However, the Blue Influencers Scheme’s focus is on coastal, riverside and estuary locations.

Any teachers or youth leaders working with young people aged 10 - 14 who wished to get involved in the Blue Influencer Scheme should contact [email protected]