Rishi Sunak visits Swaledale youth hostel to support new scheme

Rishi Sunak joins children from Wibsey Primary School, Bradford, working on a craft project at YHA Grinton Lodge. Photo taken before change in restrictions requiring face masks.

Rishi Sunak has visited YHA Grinton Lodge in Swaledale to give his support to a Government-funded programme which gives children the opportunity to experience life in the countryside.

Launched earlier this year with money from the Green Recovery Challenge Fund, the 16-month Generation Green project aims to reach 100,000 young people, connecting them to nature through new jobs, training, volunteering roles, residentials and outdoor learning experiences.

At Grinton Lodge Mr Sunak met a group of Year 5 and 6 pupils from Wibsey Primary School in Bradford who were enjoying a Generation Green-funded two-night residential at the Dales youth hostel.

As part of the residential, pupils took part in activities organised by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA), one of the 15 not-for-profit outdoor education providers delivering Generation Green.

Karen Yates, acting headteacher at Wibsey Primary School, said: “For many of the children who stayed at YHA Grinton Lodge, it was their first time on a residential and also their first time in the countryside. It was a wonderful experience for them.”

Mr Sunak said: “It was great to meet the children getting a taste of Dales life learning about the environment and the way the countryside works.

“The Government is pleased to be funding this excellent programme which helps children to understand, look after and treasure our countryside.”

Led by YHA (England & Wales), Generation Green is the first project to be delivered by Access Unlimited, a coalition of 15 not-for-profit outdoor education providers including YHA, Scouts, Girlguiding, Field Studies Council, The Outward Bound Trust and 10 National Park authorities in England.

James Blake, chief executive of YHA (England & Wales) who met with Mr Sunak along with representatives from Access Unlimited partner YDNPA, said: “It was an excellent opportunity to showcase the work of Generation Green and all the partners involved at YHA Grinton Lodge.

“This is more important than ever in the wake of the pandemic where hundreds of thousands of young people missed out on the opportunity to have a school residential. For some of those

As part of the visit Mr Sunak also met Up Skill, Down Dale Generation Green volunteers from his Richmond constituency. Up Skill, Down Dale is just one of the programmes Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) offers as part of the Generation Green project.

The programme is aimed at young people, aged 14 to 30, who would like to ‘make their mark on the Park’ and develop their knowledge and confidence by getting involved in skilled volunteer placements.

Kevin Frea, member champion for promoting understanding at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, said: “It was great for Lydia and Laura – two of our Up Skill, Down Dale Generation Green volunteers – to meet Mr Sunak and to talk so passionately about their work.

“The programme is already off to a strong start with young volunteers making a difference across the National Park Authority, for example in our Wildlife, Woodlands, Access, and Education teams.

“And in addition to her Generation Green project work Laura has joined the steering group of the National Park Management Plan, giving her a say on the work programme of dozens of organisations operating in the National Park.”

For details of Generation Green funded activities available for young people, please visit https://www.yha.org.uk/generationgreen