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More than £3 billion awarded to projects that support young people over the last decade

16th February 2023

Figures released today show that more than £3 Billion of National Lottery good causes funding has been invested over the last decade to projects across the UK which specifically support and develop children and young people.

A group of young people working in the woords from Keeping it Wild (London Wildlife Trust)
A group of young people working in the woods from Keeping it Wild (London Wildlife Trust)

Over the past 10 years, this huge investment which has had a positive life-changing impact on children and young people up and down the country, has supported over 58,000 projects which has helped them learn new skills, develop their communities as well giving them the tools to enhance their lives and the lives of others.

Thanks to National Lottery players, the funding is providing greater opportunities in life for many children and young people across the environment, arts, education, community, heritage and sport – with a big proportion of the money helping to connect young people with their environment and teaching them how to protect it.

The environment is an issue close to the hearts of young people. Many of the volunteers in our communities who seek to drive change and educate people about how to look after our environment are the younger generation. The National Lottery distributors are dedicated to helping young people continue that passion through funding incredible projects across the UK to help them unlock their potential.

Whether it is funding to provide environmental training courses for young people, empowering them to take local climate action in their communities, connecting younger people from under-represented backgrounds to the natural world, providing volunteering opportunities within the environment or using art to inspire younger children to learn more about natural habitats. The £30 million a week raised by the National Lottery’ players is making a huge positive difference to the lives of young people by providing a wide array of support across the UK.

A group of young people on training from Keeping it Wild (London Wildlife Trust)
A group of young people on training from Keeping it Wild (London Wildlife Trust)

National Lottery funded good causes making their areas greener and more sustainable across the UK include Keeping It Wild, run by the London Wildlife Trust, which offers urban nature opportunities for young people aged 11-25 in London. The project, which received £886,600 of National Lottery funding, provides a number of paid traineeships for young people to help them gain entry into the conservation industry.

This takes place through a wide range of courses that sees trainees try their hand at a number of different conservation projects, eventually developing skills to lead sessions on their own. The programme focuses on young people who are typically under-represented in the environmental sector, with 93% of young people coming from at least one of the target groups: Black, Asian or minoritised ethnic heritage (76%), disabled young people (30%) or young people from lower socio-economic communities (41% of Keeping It Wild participants live in the top 20% most deprived communities in England).

An adult showing a couple of kids something on the shore of the sea.
Dylan and Holly learning about the surronding marine environment © NWWT Molly Jones

In Wales, Seagrass Ocean Rescue has received £1 million of National lottery funding in order to improve the quality of seawater and the surrounding marine environment by planting five million seagrass seeds, in an area the size of 18 football pitches, in North Wales. Seagrass meadows improve water quality by filtering pollution and provide spawning, nursery and feeding grounds for marine species, including fish. Seagrass also helps provide coastal protection by trapping sediment to the seabed, holding it fast by its thick network of roots. It is highly efficient at trapping carbon yet the UK has lost up to 92 per cent of its seagrass habitats over the last 100 years.

The project has a number of young people of school age involved, who have developed their understanding of both their local environment and climate change more broadly, as well getting involved in the harvesting of the seeds. Part funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Seagrass Ocean Rescue is managed by WWF in partnership with Project Seagrass, Swansea University, North Wales Wildlife Trust and Pen Llŷn a’r Sarnau SAC.

A woman (Alex Paterson) from Cumbernauld Living Landscape
Alex Paterson from Cumbernauld Living Landscape

In North Lanarkshire in Scotland, Cumbernauld Living Landscape seeks to help the people of Cumbernauld make the most of their many green spaces. Thanks £1.4 million from The National Lottery, Cumbernauld Living Landscape has been able to place volunteers at its heart and has facilitated a number of projects that has helped all walks of life in the town connect to nature, including children and young adults. With a population of around 52,000, Cumbernauld has some of the highest areas of multiple deprivation in Scotland, but it is also one of the greenest towns in the country, with over 50% of the town being greenspace.

Cumbernauld Living Landscape brings different landowners in the town together to develop volunteer-led conservation. It works to enhance and protect the biodiversity of sites across the town by involving the community, local groups and schools in both decision-making and the practical management of local greenspaces. This has also helped to raise community awareness and ensure more people can benefit from nature through volunteering.

A woman (Moragaine Mc Parland) in the woods
Moragaine Mc Parland from Nature Skills NI

Whilst in Northern Ireland, Nature Skill NI offered paid traineeships for young people looking to get into the conservation industry, with an aim of diversifying the sector. The traineeship empowered participants to develop a wide range of skills, including practical green skills as well as helping them plan and run their own sessions. The project, which received £403,000 of National Lottery funding directly addressed the skills gap experienced by the sector as indicated through research carried out by Lantra (the leading awarding body for land-based and environmental training courses and qualifications). Nature Skill NI offered a level of training provision that is currently not available in Northern Ireland with a unique combination of skills and knowledge training, valuable on-the-job experience and an accreditation.

A close up of a woman (Megan McCubbin).
Conservationist and wildlife TV presenter Megan McCubbin

Young conservationist and wildlife TV presenter Megan McCubbin is delighted that so many young people have been given the opportunity to get involved in National Lottery funded projects and to help make a difference in their communities over the years.

The 28-year-old said: “It’s so important we recognize the astounding impact The National Lottery has had on the lives of so many young people and to say thank you to National Lottery players for their continued contributions to so many incredible projects that support them. The money they raise provides much-needed funding to the organisations that are making a significant difference to people’s lives – from the young to the old.”

“Without the support from The National Lottery I’m not sure we’d have as many young people getting involved in the arts, helping their local communities or deepening their understanding into the changes in our environment. It’s crucial to keep this funding going so that they can continue to do more to enhance lives of future generations to come.

“As a conservationist and young person myself, I’m passionate about getting more young people into caring for the natural world as there is still so much to be done to preserve our earth and the species within it.”

Highlighting the importance of the support from The National Lottery, David Knott, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “This extraordinary amount of National Lottery funding has meant that life-changing projects have been able to support young people across the UK to realise their ambitions and thrive. It has unlocked opportunities for young people to put their passions into conservation, education, sport, community, arts and heritage, providing them with the skillset to further their careers within these sectors.

“It is imperative that National Lottery players are recognised for their support - without them we wouldn’t be able to invest in our younger generation and inspire them to make a lasting impact on their communities.”