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Youth for Climate and Nature (YouCAN) scheme

The New Forest National Park Authority has secured £1.4 million for a climate action scheme to connect young people to nature and help communities across the region tackle climate change.

  • The project ‘Youth for Climate and Nature’ is aimed at 11- to 25-year-olds to encourage more community-led action to tackle the nature and climate emergencies.  
  • Supports green skills and jobs, and an outdoor learning programme for young people from all backgrounds to explore urban, rural, coastal and freshwater areas. 
  • Three-year scheme from October 2023 is led by the New Forest National Park Authority, with a range of regional partners. 
  • Area covers 300 square miles across the New Forest, Southampton, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole area, connecting different sectors. 

The Youth for Climate and Nature scheme (YouCAN) has secured a £1.2 million Climate Action Fund grant from The National Lottery Community Fund – the largest community funder in the UK – and a further £264,000 in match funding from partners.

YouCAN aims

Aimed at 11- to 25-year-olds, the scheme will strengthen young people’s connection to nature, and deepen their understanding of what drives environmental behaviour change. It will enable them to develop nature-focused campaigns in their local communities spanning an area of 300 square miles across the New Forest, Southampton, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, covering a mix of urban, rural, coastal and freshwater habitats.

Youth-led and co-created activities will include junior ranger programmes, volunteer opportunities, habitat improvements, climate cafés, composting, food growing/waste reduction, walking and cycling in nature, and internships providing experience in green skills and jobs.

The scheme, made possible thanks to National Lottery players, aims to reach new audiences with a wide, interactive events programme, including residential stays, refugee visits, and workshops with local artists and climate scientists to develop a theatre production and community tour.

A youth advisory board will help to shape the project, while young people will be given further opportunities to have their voices heard through content creation, sound recordings and photography.

Young people will benefit from a raft of existing experience through events, mentoring and skill sharing opportunities, as well as an early green careers network. The scheme will help them work with their own communities so a wider range of ages can take action for climate and nature together.

The partners

Lead partner New Forest National Park Authority is working alongside the Countryside Education Trust in Beaulieu; Freshwater Habitats Trust; The Parks Foundation in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole; Southampton National Park City project; Theatre for Life, and care and support charity Alabaré to deliver the scheme over three years, starting in October 2023.

Quotes of note

Prof. Gavin Parker, Chair of the New Forest National Park Authority at the launch in October 2023, said:

 ‘We know our communities and young people are eager to tackle the climate and nature emergencies and there is already a great deal of activity in this area. The YouCAN scheme represents an unprecedented opportunity to secure a step-change towards sustainable living in the National Park and beyond, and this investment will give us tools, resources, knowledge and networks to move forward at pace.

‘YouCAN aligns with our National Park Partnership Plan themes of climate, nature, people and place, and the funding will allow us to develop a 10-year plan for climate action with partners so that we can continue to work together beyond the three-year scheme.’

Helen Robinson, the New Forest National Park Authority’s Lead Education and Youth Officer, said:

‘The funding will enable us to increase the scale and reach of our existing green opportunities for young people from all backgrounds to connect to nature and take action to tackle the climate and nature emergencies. Importantly, it will empower young people, giving them new skills to take forward to help understand and protect these amazing spaces across the south.’

Melissa Eaglesfield, Deputy Director, UK Portfolio from The National Lottery Community Fund, added:

 ‘I am delighted that the New Forest National Park Authority is using our funding to put young people at the forefront of meaningful climate action. Thanks to National Lottery players, we are proud to help young people thrive and help communities be environmentally sustainable across the region.’

About the partner organisations

Scroll down to find out about all the projects the partners are involved in as part of the YouCAN scheme.

About The National Lottery Community Fund

We are the largest non-statutory community funder in the UK – community is at the heart of our purpose, vision and name.

We support activities that create resilient communities that are more inclusive and environmentally sustainable and that will strengthen society and improve lives across the UK.

We’re proud to award money raised by National Lottery players to communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and to work closely with Government to distribute vital grants and funding from key Government programmes and initiatives.

As well as responding to what communities tell us is important to them, our funding is focused on four key missions, supporting communities to:

  • Come together
  • Be environmentally sustainable
  • Help children and young people thrive
  • Enable people to live healthier lives.

Thanks to the support of National Lottery players, we distribute around £500 million a year through 10,000+ grants and plan to invest over £4bn of funding into communities by 2030. We’re privileged to be able to work with the smallest of local groups right up to UK-wide charities, enabling people and communities to bring their ambitions to life.

National Lottery players raise over £30 million each week for good causes throughout the UK. Since The National Lottery began in 1994, £47 billion has been raised and more than 670,000 individual grants have been made across the UK – the equivalent of around 240 National Lottery grants in every UK postcode district.

View The National Lottery Community Fund on: WebsiteX/TwitterFacebookInstagram


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