Young volunteers on Scottish Waterways Trust’s ‘Green Action’ skills training programme gathered with Provost Pat Reid to celebrate their achievements at The Falkirk Wheel on Thursday 30th March.
Green Action, made possible with funding from Forestry Commission Scotland and Bank of Scotland Foundation, helps 16-25 year olds in the Falkirk area who typically face significant barriers to employment.
The group celebrated as they came to the end of the 12-week programme, which helps them to learn practical conservation and heritage skills in the unique outdoor environment surrounding The Falkirk Wheel, Forth & Clyde and Union Canals.
Volunteers improve biodiversity to the area through tasks including tree-planting, vegetation management and creating habitats for waterways wildlife such as bird-boxes.
As well as learning a range of practical outdoors tasks like forestry and conservation skills, participants can earn CV boosting awards. The group have earned certificates including the Employability in the Outdoors Award, John Muir Award, Saltire Award and the Emergency First Aid certificate.
Since it launched nine years ago, over 400 young people have taken part in Green Action with 60% securing a job, place in training, education or a new volunteering role afterwards.
As current funding for the project draws to a close, Scottish Waterways Trust is actively seeking further funding to continue to support young people through Green Action.
Alan Forrester, Green Action Project Manager, said:
It’s fantastic to celebrate the hard work our young Green Action volunteers have carried out to care for our unique canalside and woodland environment. Some of the young people on the programme are those furthest from the jobs market, but each week we see them build confidence and learn the vital skills they need to move forward, including improved self-esteem and team work skills. Now, equipped with their well-earned skills and awards from the programme, our young people can take a step closer to work.
Chloe Stewart, Green Action volunteer participant, 18, added:
Before Green Action I couldn’t even leave the house. I joined because I wanted to meet new people, gain certificates and I thought the social aspect would help with my mental health. I’m hoping to apply for college and do childcare, then move into social services. I now want to help young people who have mental illness like I do. Because of Green Action, I can be the person I want to be.