Our Environment Our Future
During Big Energy Saving Week, Peter Ainsworth, UK Chair of the Big Lottery Fund blogs about a new funding programme – Our Environment Our Future. This UK-wide £30 million investment will support projects enabling young people aged 11-24 to improve their local environment and learn new skills.
‘‘The environment is where we all live and the only place we have. In tough economic times it’s important to remember that the economy is just a part of the environment. Young people need and want to shape the spaces and places they will inherit. This initiative is designed to help them do just that, and to give them the skills which are needed to forge green and lasting prosperity.
‘Since 2006, Big Lottery Fund has invested around £350 million in environmental initiatives across the UK. There are also thousands of other projects, funded through our small and medium-sized grant programmes like Reaching Communities and Awards for All, that have benefited our environment.
‘Our Environment Our Future will build on this success and will grant £30 million to projects that will support young people to improve their future prospects while shaping the future of their local environment. Evidence shows that many young people would love the opportunity to play an active role in this way – so I’m delighted that through Our Environment Our Future, Big Lottery Fund will be able to help support their ambitions.
‘The new funding programme will see the Big Lottery Fund bring together, for the first time, two core areas of our investment – environment and young people. One of the key objectives of Our Environment Our Future will be to enable young people across the UK to participate and take the lead in the growing green economy.
‘To help us achieve this we will appoint a UK-wide strategic partner who will work with us – and with other funders – to identify projects that have a great track record in supporting young people to engage with their local environment. Our partner will then help those successful projects to form a supportive network within which they can develop further by sharing their best practice and finding ways to replicate or expand on what they do. Each project will receive around £1m to do this.
‘We know from our experience of evaluating Big Lottery Fund environmental projects that the success of many of them reaches far beyond environmental outcomes to realise other positive benefits for participants – such as improved physical and mental well-being, increased self-esteem and employability, and greater community spirit.
‘As a result of this learning, we know Our Environment Our Future will also be well placed to deliver a similar positive impact to participants. Seeing how transformative environment projects can be has really helped us shape this new programme.
‘Our Environment Our Future will empower young people to participate in the green economy and to improve and protect the environment they will one day inherit.’