In another instalment of action from the Our Bright Future series, read Catherine’s Story about her involvement with the Green Academies Project.
So how did you get involved with Our Bright Future?
My name is Catherine and I am 16 years old and have just finished my GCSEs. I have been an Urban Ranger with the Green Academies Project (GAP) for just under two years and started it as part of my part of my bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award. GAP is a youth environmental project delivered by the National Trust and is one of 31 projects which together form Our Bright Future. I was invited by my National Trust mentor to apply to represent GAP on the Our Bright Future Youth Forum. I was very lucky to be selected and started this role in February this year.
What are Urban Rangers and where are you located?
The Morden Urban Rangers are a group of volunteers aged 11-24 who carry out various environmental projects in the park. We help the wildlife and organise events, so that the local community can come and share special moments together. The Urban Rangers are based at Morden Hall Park in South West London. Morden is the last stop on the Northern Line and Morden Hall Park covers 125 acres of parkland with the River Wandle meandering through it. There is so much here, including pretty bridges, Morden Cottage, an old snuff mill, a garden centre and a city farm.
What is the aim of the Green Academies Project?
The aim of the project is to empower young people, encourage them to care for the environment and learn new skills. It helps everyone to build confidence and work together as a team to complete a project that makes a difference. It’s a great opportunity to learn new skills as we can take ownership of a project from start to finish and take on various roles from project manager to event organiser. Everyone takes part and shares ideas.
A day in the life of an Urban Ranger is very varied as we do lots of different tasks and events. We do activities with young children and environmental talks for the local community. We’ve even tried some pumpkin carving!
What has been a highlight so far during the project?
One of my highlights of the project has been turning a derelict over grown car park into a community garden. We were then able to hold the first Fun Palace event there and invite the local community. Fun Palaces is a campaign for culture at the heart of the community and the Fun Palace weekend takes place in October where community activity takes place around the UK. 1,724 local residents helped celebrate the success of the community garden.
Another highlight has been a trip to Brownsea Island to support the wildlife, including its famous red squirrels. I recently did a presentation at the London National City Park Fair about this. We were nominated by our local council for a community award and were lucky enough to win a bronze award for Young Volunteer Team.
Why should others get involved?
GAP is getting more young people to care for their community green spaces and giving them the skills to protect the wider environment. To make the biggest impact we need to educate all age groups, not just young people. Take a look at the volunteering roles available at Morden Hall Park.
The Green Academies Project is working with 11-24 year olds at National Trust locations in Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, SW London and Wrexham. To see a video featuring Catherine and the Urban Rangers at Morden Hall Park click here.
To read the first article in the Our Bright Future series click here.