Gloucestershire’s young people dig into rural life

L_R: Team programme participants: Fergus, Martyna, Natasha, Jack, Sam, Morgan, and Luis, with Programme Leader, Archie Morton. 

Cotswolds Conservation Board is celebrating the conclusion of a pilot rural skills training scheme in partnership with Young Gloucestershire and The Princes Trust. The ‘Team’ programme, offered by the Prince’s Trust, and facilitated by Young Gloucestershire, aims to help young people from urban areas in Gloucestershire prepare for work or further education with a range of practice-based activities.

Team is a nationally recognised programme set up by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. More than 70% of young people who complete the course go on to get a job or return to education or training within three months of finishing the programme.

The 12 week programme is for young people aged 16-25 who are not in employment, education or training (NEET). Participants get involved in a local community project, complete a short work placement, participate in a team challenge (involving caring for others), and work on their CVs and work skills. The course encourages group working, confidence building, and motivation.

The Cotswolds Conservation Board has been involved in a trial of a new element of the course which offers young people opportunities to get some hands-on rural skills experience. From thatching, to woodland management and bushcraft, to map reading, stone carving, dry stone walling, and blacksmithing – participants have been able to try a range of rural skills, at the same time as experiencing what it’s like to work outside in a rural context.

Many of the young people taking part do not have regular access to the countryside surrounding the towns and cities where they live, so this element of the Team programme is a valuable opportunity for them to explore what options might be available to them.

Edward Bonn, Rural Skills Officer at Cotswolds Conservation Board said, “It’s been brilliant introducing these groups of young people to our rural skills programme. Lots of them have never experienced anything like it before, and have really got stuck in to the sessions we’ve run for them. In particular, the blacksmithing, stone carving, and bushcraft sessions were very popular.”

Archie Morton, Programme Leader at Young Gloucestershire said, “Including rural skills in the Team programme is new for Young Gloucestershire – but we feel it’s a valuable addition. This time round was a pilot – so our focus now will be on seeking funding to continue being able to allow young people to broaden their skill set and experience.”

If you or your organisation is interested in finding out more about how to contribute to funding this valuable programme, please contact Simon Smith (Cotswolds Conservation Board) at simon.smith@cotswoldsaonb.org.uk or Archie Morton(Young Gloucestershire) at archie.morton@youngglos.org.uk