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Influencers Assemble

The great, the good and the green gather for The Green Influencers Scheme 2nd Annual Conference

Members of the Youth Advisory Board, Raphael Mathews and Tasneem Chihani, help host the Conference

Katie Hodgetts (The Resilience Project) speaking at the Conference

Green Influencers Mohammed, Isabella and Angelica from the Garsdale Pike Youth Leadership Group

Kwesia X (City Girl in Nature) speaking at the Conference

Dr Victoria Edwards (Chief Executive, The Ernest Cook Trust), Helen Whyman (Head of the #iwill Fund), Simon Eliot and Mary Riall (Trustees, The Ernest Cook Trust)

The 2nd Annual Conference for the Trust’s Green Influencers Scheme in March 2022 was the first time so many of the 80 delegates had met in-person, after last year’s event was held online due to COVID-19 restrictions.

So it was with great anticipation that the Scheme’s Project Manager, Robyn Riddoch, welcomed everyone to Matlock in Derbyshire. The day was designed to celebrate their collective achievements so far, be inspired by an eclectic mix of speakers, and learn new skills in a variety of participative workshops.

Amongst the speakers were three Green Influencers from the Garsdale Pike Youth Leadership Group who shared their enthusiasm for a 197 acre nature restoration project in North Yorkshire. The trio captivated the Conference as they shared their experiences of exploring and connecting with the land, typified by this comment from Mohammed,

I’ve actually grown with this project in myself!

Katie Hodgetts, founder and executive director of The Resilience Project, and co-founder of Bristol Youth Strike for Climate shared her mission to ensure that young people engaging in youth social action can do so from a place of joy, connection and hope. Sharing insights from her own experience, she emphasised the unique position youth and community workers have, encouraging delegates to foster communities of support to help address the prevailing burn-out and eco-anxiety experienced by young people.

I felt really passionate that stepping up for social and climate justice didn’t need to result in rapid declines in mental health and isolation, but it could be a space of connection and community and flourishing, which is exactly what you are doing as Green Mentors.

Kwesia X shared her inspirational story, from inner-city depravation and personal tragedy to establishing ‘City Girl in Nature’, after being offered a place on a British Exploring Society’s expedition to the Amazon Rainforest. Keen to share her newfound love and passion for the outdoors, City Girl in Nature gives young people living in deprivation opportunities to experience the life-changing benefits of connecting with nature. Speaking about her trip to the Amazon rainforest, Kwesia shared,

Being put in this kind of environment enabled me to see the benefits and the positive side to some of the things I had faced, as well as my natural gifts.

The Conference also welcomed Helen Whyman, Head of the #iwill Fund (funding partner for The Green Influencers Scheme). Helen shared her passion for enthusing and empowering young people, and her desire to share learning across all #iwill funding partners, building stronger networks to maximise impacts and achieve greater legacy.

This annual Conference is a key part of the support given by The Ernest Cook Trust to the Scheme’s Green Mentors. The Trust is keen to ensure that its funding of the project is comprehensively backed-up with high quality training, resources and the support of dedicated Project Manager, Robyn Riddoch and a Youth Advisory Board, who make this a truly youth-led Scheme.

…I thought the speakers meshed really well and covered valuable and important content. The diversity and youth present made me really emotional and inspired to go back and introduce new things.
Conference delegate
…I was impressed with The Ernest Cook Trust for platforming so many young people and people of colour. It was incredibly inspiring to see this, and a reminder that organisations such as the Trust have a responsibility to do this - providing others with the chance to hear from other perspectives and lived experiences. Commendable work indeed.
Conference delegate

The #iwill Fund is made possible thanks to £54 million joint investment from The National Lottery Community Fund and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to support young people to access high quality social action opportunities. The Ernest Cook Trust  is acting as a match funder and awarding grants on behalf of the #iwill Fund.

Read our Press Release about the impacts of The Green Influencers Scheme