Gift Your Gear – Green Futures

Being outdoors in the countryside is a new experience for many of the young people taking part in Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust’s (YDMT) Green Futures programme.

As recent weeks have shown, the weather can be dramatic, challenging and unpredictable. The team at YDMT knows that having access to suitable warm, waterproof clothing is key to the happiness of any group when heading out into the great outdoors.

Thanks to donations of pre-loved waterproof coats and fleeces through Gift Your Gear, the charity is able to provide the necessary clothing to ensure that young people from all backgrounds have the chance to explore and enjoy the spectacular Yorkshire Dales landscape in comfort, whatever the weather.

The Green Futures programme connects with 11-24 year-olds living in and around the Yorkshire Dales National Park, working to inspire, support and empower young people to create positive environmental change. Ultimately the programme aims to create a generation of local young people informed about, inspired by and connected to the natural environment and environmental issues on their doorstep and beyond.

One element of the Green Futures programme is the ‘Green Guardians’ project which provides opportunities for young people from nearby urban areas including Bradford, Keighley and Leeds, who would not usually get the opportunity to connect with or experience the natural environment, to do just that.

Groups to date have included young carers, young people with disabilities, young people with additional educational needs / emotional and behavioural difficulties, young people experiencing homelessness, young parents, and refugees and asylum seekers.

Activities ranging from walks and site surveys to bushcraft activities provide initial outdoor experiences and help to identify the interests of those taking part, which can be built on later through practical conservation tasks, such as tree planting, footpath repairs and creating hay meadows.

Gail Smith, Green Futures Programme Manager at YDMT said:
“Many of the young people coming out with us have never experienced the wonders of the National Park even though it is less than an hour’s journey from them. The chance to get away from it all, even for a day, and experience the beauty and wonder of the outdoors – or even better do some practical work outdoors – is a great opportunity for young people who might otherwise lead difficult or challenging lives. The benefits this brings to young people’s well-being in particular is really powerful and a really useful way of helping young people cope with what life throws at them. And all this whilst learning to care for and respect the environment – it’s a win-win situation all round, and I’d like to say a huge thank you to all the generous Rohan customers who donated pre-loved clothing to support projects like this.”

Here’s what a few of the young people taking part have to say about their experiences with Green Futures:

“It felt adventurous to me, it felt refreshing and change in a completely different side of life, it even got me out, and away from my usual side of life too.”Specialist Services Autism Member

“I liked being out in nature all day. It felt really good to be out in the woods.” Bushcraft participant.

“Been a good day for me, something new I can feel proud of.”One-off participant, tree planting

“Good to be outside in the fresh air”Motiv8 College student footpath laying.

As the saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing. The pre-loved equipment generously donated to YDMT through Gift Your Gear is crucial in enabling YDMT to bring groups out to the Yorkshire Dales countryside whatever the weather, and to make the most of every visit.

Green Futures forms part of Our Bright Future – a movement of 31 youth-led projects across the UK each receiving around £1m of funding from the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund, to inspire and develop the next generation of environmental leaders.

Our Bright Future gives young people the skills and knowledge to improve their local environments, influence future environmental policy and step up and create what is rightfully theirs: a healthy planet, a thriving economy and a brighter future.