National Park in new push to engage young people with the countrysideNorthumberland National Park Authority has appointed two youth engagement officers to help young people to connect with the countryside and to promote young enterprise around the Northumberland Uplands.
The post is for Northumberland Uplands Leader, a group of committed local people who manage European Rural Development Funding in the area to stimulate sustainable rural development.
(L_R) Jennifer Hewitson and Jane Riddell, two young women with a wealth of experience in rural and community working, are sharing the post.
Jane grew up in a rural area similar to North Northumberland and reliant on farming, and has a full appreciation of some of the difficulties and challenges faced by young people today in rural communities. Jane has 11 years of experience working with young people as a National Park ranger and continues this role part-time. She has also worked on a cross-border project with the local communities around the foothills of the Cheviots and is strongly aware of the impact when young people leave to work elsewhere.
She said: "I’ve lived in the area for some time now and know how important the area is to local people and that its future depends on young people. I hope to be part of the development of foundations for young people in rural Northumberland, which will help to build character, discover a sense of worth, improve employment prospects and inspire a sense of pride in their home country.”
Jennifer was born and bred in the Northumberland uplands, with her family farming in both Upper Coquetdale and Redesdale. She has a keen interest in rural development, having completed an MSc degree in Rural Development and Resource Management. Jennifer ran the National Park’s successful Upland Farming Traineeship in 2010 and is currently working part time on Cheviot Futures’ climate change adaption programmes for rural businesses.
She added: "Having grown up in the Northumberland hills I’m really looking forward to working with young people in the area and encouraging them to pursue their dreams and aspirations.”
Speaking on behalf of the NU Leader team, Chairman Michael Nixon said: “We are delighted to have the combined expertise and experience of both Jennifer and Jane to work with youth groups across the Northumberland uplands and to support a range of initiatives for young people. This role has a strong ‘enterprise’ focus and we want to give any nascent entrepreneurship the best helping hand that we can for the benefit of rural Northumberland.”
Forging links with Sweden
One of the first projects which Jen and Jane will be working on is with another Leader group in Sweden. Encouraged by Leader principles to link up with other Local Action Groups (LAGs) across the European Union, Northumberland Uplands Local Action Group (NULAG) have been working with a LAG called Leader Linne to explore areas of mutual interest, and the two LAGs have developed close working relations.
NULAG and Leader Linne want to develop an exchange of experience, skills and knowledge for young people. Groups of young people will be helped to travel to each area for a short period to study, complete work placements, learn about one another’s cultures and stay with local families. All of which will expand horizons, generate ideas, build experience and improve future employment prospects. There will be a total of six trips (12-14 days) throughout the duration of the project, three from NULAG and three from LEADER Linne, each with six beneficiaries.
Jen and Jane would like to hear from people between 18 and 25 from the Northumberland Uplands to be part of a unique trans-national adventure, and from local businesses and families who might like to host or offer experience to young Swedes.
Help with Young People’s Projects
One of the common barriers for young people in rural areas is the lack of opportunities for jobs and careers, training and education and starting a new business. These problems can affect both young people who leave rural areas but wish to return as well as those who want to remain closer to home.
The NULAG youth team are keen to work with all young people from 11 to 29 across the Northumberland uplands to support their ideas, help develop their goals and look for ways around the barriers. Mobile phone apps, film-making, photography and music projects could be on the cards as well as rural businesses. No project is too wacky at this stage.
Jen and Jane are based at the Northumberland National Park Offices at Rothbury and can be contacted on 01669 622075, email@example.com.
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Closing date: 1st January 1970 at 01:00am