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A 500 miles weekend with Groundwork

Last weekend we kept YAB member, Jack, very busy! From a trip to London with the CEO of Groundwork UK to representing Groundwork Youth at the Conservative Party's Annual conference, he hopped on the mic to centre the voices and concerns of young people. Find out how his adventures went in our latest post.

Last weekend was a busy one! My Saturday began with the 250 mile journey to London from Newcastle. The reason for my trip to London was to help Graham Duxbury, CEO of Groudwork UK, to deliver a pitch to The Scouts about Groundwork becoming a formal partner of The Scouts’ social action network, A Million Hands.

I have been involved with Scouts all of my life and still volunteer as an adult volunteer at my Cub Pack in South Shields. I have also been involved with the Groundwork Youth campaign, #InclusiveSpaces as a Youth Advisory Board member for the past year. Both Scouts and Groundwork run some amazing social action projects across the UK and in my hometown, my own Scouts have partnered with our local Groundwork Trust (South Tyneside and Newcastle) several times over the last few years. Most recently we undertook a tidy up of West Park in Jarrow (aided with the help of some pizza!) thanks to Groundwork STAN and the Friends of West Park, Jarrow.

In the past the Scouts at my group have also done a pond clearance and maintenance of a local wild meadow. My Scout Group have had some amazing experiences already partnering with our local trust as a result of the #InclusiveSpaces campaign, encouraging young people to get more involved in using and protecting green spaces. It would be incredible to see a partnership develop between the two organisations.

The pitch went very well, lasting about an hour, in front of the group of young people from the Scouts who make up the Community Impact Group leading on the A Million Hands project. In fact, Graham mentioned that both of his parents met as Scout leaders!

After the pitch, Graham and I headed for the tube and we debriefed a little bit on the way back. I was heading for Euston this time to make the journey to Birmingham for the Youth Zone events at the Conservative Party Conference, joined by two other Groudwork youth ambassadors, Hannah and Akeim.

We attended a packed afternoon schedule of events in the Youth Zone, with representatives from across the Youth sector, such as NCS and GirlGuiding as well as MPs and other decision makers. One of the events was an interesting Q&A with Robert Halfon MP, Chair of the Education Select Committee. We asked a question to Robert about the importance of green spaces and the role that young people can play in society in the maintenance of green spaces, especially with the cuts to council budgets for green spaces in recent years. Robert said that he saw a lot of potential for young people to play in green spaces and also the whole host of other benefits that come through spending time outdoors such as improved mental health and exercise. He also noted that when things got stressful in his day job as an MP he often takes time to go outdoors to clear his mind.

The afternoon continued with more sessions and concluded with a very interesting talk by Andrea Leadson MP, Leader of the House of Commons and Damian Hands MP, Education Secretary.
Myself, Hannah and Akeim took some time to also chat about our own involvement with Groudwork and our own interests. It really was a fantastic opportunity and really amazing to be so close to decision makers!

Jack White is a member of the Groundwork Youth Advisory Board and is based in Newcastle.

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