Belfast Hills Partnership supporting young people

BELFAST HILLS RI Farm
n A group of trainee rangers.

THE Belfast Hills Partnership is offering a free environmental sector training programme for young people aged 18-24, with no experience necessary.

The Trainee Ranger scheme, now in its second year, is about improving the health and wellbeing of those taking part, whilst at the same time increasing their employability skills as they take part in a range of practical conservation tasks such as tree planting, habitat management and wildlife surveys.

A report published by The Prince’s Trust in April 2018 found that almost half of young people in Northern Ireland said they have experienced a mental health problem, with two-thirds of young people regularly feeling stressed and a third going as far to say that they often feel hopeless.

The study also reported that half of young people here (51 per cent) agree that having a job would give them a sense of purpose. Yet figures from the Office of National Statistics also show that 11 per cent of young people in Northern Ireland are not in employment, education or training. This is a problem that needs to be addressed and it is the hope of the Belfast Hills Partnership that the Trainee Ranger Scheme can help tackle the issue.

The programme is funded by The National Lottery Community Fund’s Our Bright Future project, a forward-thinking social movement that’s about supporting young people to lead progressive change in their communities and local environment. They’re tackling environmental issues and the lack of opportunities for young people by using one problem to help another. It’s about unleashing the potential of young people, so they can make a big, positive impact and become an unstoppable force for good.

John McLaughlin, the Youth Development Officer at the Belfast Hills Partnership, said: “With the job market the way it is, employers are expecting applicants to have a certain amount of work experience under their belt before they are even considered for a job. But how do young people get that work experience in the first place? We believe that the Trainee Ranger scheme can fill this void.

“By completing the 16 week programme, young people will not only increase their practical experience in the workplace, but they will also receive nationally recognised awards and gain a Lantra accreditation in the use of strimmers and brushcutters, something that will look great on their CVs!

“It has long been established that getting close to nature and the outdoors improves health and wellbeing. Our goal is to help young people to develop confidence and self-esteem by nurturing their connection to the local environment, leading to greater involvement in the Belfast Hills or to further volunteering, training or employment.”

The deadline for applications is 5pm on Monday, September 30, with the first day of the scheme starting on October 8, for 16 weeks.

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