Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority adopts youth manifesto

The body charged with managing a national park has adopted a youth manifesto in a drive to enable decision-makers to better understand the needs of young people in the rural area.

It is understood the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has become the first such body in England to adopt the Europarc Youth Manifesto, to establish a greater connection between young people and a group responsible for a designated protected area.

Members heard the manifesto heralded as a key tool to help in the challenges of maintaining the park’s population, retaining young people in the park’s communities, and of attracting others from outside the area.

The authority’s chief executive, David Butterworth described the manifesto, which it is hoped will also be approved by district councils and North Yorkshire County Council, as “a call to action for the older generation”.

He said: “It is certainly the case that the voice of young people is marginalised on decision-making bodies. This makes it all the more vital that those bodies open themselves up to challenge, debate and discussion from this important demographic group within our community.”

Park authority communications and ranger apprentices Katy Foxford and Ian Colledge had outlined some of the drawbacks facing young people living in the national park, such as a lack of job opportunities and low wages, at a meeting of the full authority.

Members applauded the pair after hearing they were launching a youth forum in the park to facilitate social opportunities for under-25s.

Mr Colledge said: “Giving young people a voice, a chance to make decisions and to help with problem-solving will be a mutually beneficial move that tackles an area where young people are typically under-represented.”

He said the manifesto sought an active role for young people as future community leaders and highlighted the problem of younger people being able to stay in their communities and issues surrounding education and working.

Ahead of members adopting the manifesto and agreeing to consider the 27 actions it outlines for inclusion in the park authority’s 2019-20 Action Plan, member Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong said the move would, for the first time, provide a mechanism for getting the views of young people.

She said her children had both had to move away from the Dales for work and the secret to making the protected area sustainable was to make it economically viable for young people.

Mrs Manners-Armstrong said: “I am really glad this is here as some formal process that will feed in to our organisation and others that make decisions around here. Without structure we won’t get the information.”