YouthLink Scotland

BY David Doig Foundation

In an exciting first for the David Doig Foundation Fund, a multi-year award has this year been offered to YouthLink Scotland. The Foundation will support their Natural Leaders programme for the next 2 years, an innovative new project engaging young people in nature. 

YouthLink, who have been running since the 1960s, support youth workers and young people across Scotland with a range of services including a wide range of direct youth support programmes, resources and advice for youth workers, annual youth work awards, and research and policy development. Their new Natural Leaders programme is a large two year project which will see support from a number of funders bring opportunities for young people to life. This project aims to offer 200 vulnerable young people in 5 communities in Scotland, identified as being communities where there are higher levels of deprivation, access to a new approach that will spark their curiosity about natural heritage and enable them to take action to protect local greenspace. With support from youth workers and specialist charities and local natural heritage organisations, each group of young people will move through each phase of the project, first connecting with local natural heritage through a range of ‘hands on’ experiences designed locally, then creating a unique plan for action in support of natural heritage which will apply what they have been learning, develop their investigative skills, and put science into action, and finally taking a lead in promoting and protecting natural heritage as they bring their ideas and action plans to life.

The young people involved, who will be aged 11-12, may be at risk of disengaging from learning, especially as they transition to secondary school as this can be a difficult and important time in their educational development. Instead of disengaging, the programme is designed to give young people confidence, build their sense of agency, ignite new passions and interests, and equip them with a set of transferable skills for the future. The benefits of this new approach are exciting and could reach well beyond the young people themselves into their local communities, nature organisations, and youth work teams.

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