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The Environmental Leadership Programme for 18-25 year olds

Sascha Robinson

1 Jul 2024

My personal experience

Growing up in Shropshire, I always felt privileged to be surrounded by nature. This experience fuelled my love for the outdoors and inspired me to seek out nature more as I grew older. Witnessing environmental degradation and the lack of opportunities to connect people to nature has been challenging. Shortly after starting my first job as a teacher, a family member informed me about the Environmental Leadership Programme 2 (ELP2) available in the West Midlands. This free, nine-month program for 18-25-year-olds seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to learn how to make a difference.

Before joining ELP2, my climate action efforts were mostly solitary. I had made personal changes to reduce my environmental impact but I struggled to find and connect with like-minded individuals in my community. Many of my friends didn't share my passion, leaving me feeling isolated in my efforts to make a difference in Shropshire. Occasionally, I'd see local climate meetups advertised but the thought of walking into a room full of people twice my age wondering, “Who is she?” and “what does she know?”, kept me from attending.

ELP2 provided a welcoming space to engage with climate issues and my local community. From the first weekend, I met many people my age who shared my passion for making a difference. As a 25-year-old, I was inspired by the work of the youngest participants and felt a newfound belief that I could contribute more. Throughout the course, we built knowledge, skills, and confidence, enabling us to take more significant steps forward. As part of the course, we were challenged to develop our own campaigns. We spent time planning and considering what our communities needed to connect them to nature. I found myself now talking directly with influential people across Shropshire and felt more connected to the climate community than ever.

Not only have I found connections with like-minded individuals, but I also feel more confident in my abilities and realised that my place within these groups was valued, not looked down upon. I can make a difference. Oh, and that climate meetup on Tuesday night filled with people twice my age? I hosted it.

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