The Caring for the Cotswolds Youth panel – 10 young people aged 13-25 – discussing applications.
In November, we invited a group of 10 young people to meet to form the 2023 Caring for the Cotswolds Youth Panel. The members of the Gloucestershire Youth Climate Group’s (GYCG) core group, and a couple of members of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust’s Youth Advisory Group, joined us to learn and gain experience of the grants process, and to take part in the assessment of local grants applications.
The collaboration between GYCG and Cotswolds National Landscape (CNL) meant that young people aged 16-25 were able to have their voices heard. They were tasked with reviewing each project application, scoring it, and providing any recommendations. Their review, scores and recommendations were then sent to the Grants Panel – consisting of CNL board members – for them to consider and help inform their decision.
We spoke to Tom Manders-Trett, a member of GYCG’s core group who attended the Youth Panel day, to learn a bit more about his experience.
Why did you want to take part in the Caring for the Cotswolds Youth Panel?
‘As a group committed to youth representation across all levels of environmental decision making, we hoped to provide a potentially new perspective on the available funding applications. When deadlines and quotas for environmental action are regularly missed at national and international levels, this panel was also a tangible opportunity for the group to positively contribute to local environmental projects and support sustainable, collaborative and creative ideas across the Cotswolds. Some members of the group were also already familiar with CNL’s ethos and felt that they were an organisation we wanted to work with, and this funding process was something we wanted to learn a lot from – which we definitely did!’
How long have you been a part of GYCG, and why did you want to join?
‘I have been a GYCG member for over a year and a half now – I wanted to get involved in any way I could with climate action in my home county, and the facilitators at GYCG were amazing at introducing me to existing members and making me feel immediately welcome.’
Why do you think it is important for organisations to include young people in decision-making?
‘Simply, young people are the future of our society and we see it as only fair to include them in decision-making processes that have long-term effects. When 8/10 young people are concerned about climate change and 86% support council action on climate change (InterClimate Network Survey 2022), it is crucial that organisations draw upon young people’s experiences, perspectives and concerns to holistically tackle environmental problems. This approach would also foster connections between councils, businesses and the next generation, opening channels of communication and involving our future workforce in meaningful discussions they can learn from and contribute to. For example, in presenting to Gloucestershire County Council we learned lots about decision-making at that level and in turn gained lots of positive feedback from councillors, who had few connections to youth groups and a limited understanding of the environmental concerns young people had.’
Since being a part of a climate-focused youth group, Tom confirmed his interest in the environment and is planning to study Geography at university next year.
We are delighted to have been able to offer this opportunity and insight into some of the work that we do. A big thanks to Creative Sustainability CIC‘s Gloucestershire Youth Climate Group, who formed the core panel, and a couple of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust‘s Youth Advisory Group for joining us and fully committing to developing well-thought-out recommendations.