East of England

Groundwork East and Whipsnade Zoo team up to offer young people a taste of green careers

Activities that can be done at Whipsnade Zoo
(14 November 2023)

Groundwork East is excited to be starting a new cycle of its Uplifting Potential (UP) programme in partnership with Whipsnade Zoo. Funded by Central Bedfordshire Council, the programme provides young people who are struggling to take the next steps in life an opportunity to build confidence and skills, increase aspirations and improve mental and physical well-being.

Over eight weeks UP will use a combination of indoor and outdoor settings, encouraging young people to connect with the natural world, including getting hands-on at the conservation zoo, meeting the animals many of which are endangered or extinct-in-the-wild and discovering the varied careers that exist to keep the zoo running.

The UP programme is open to young people that are not in education, employment or training (NEET) or are at risk of becoming NEET, for example those that are struggling to attend school regularly. It is aimed at individuals who struggle to engage in other types of provision and gently supports them to take the next step in life with confidence. The groups will be small (6-7 young people), allowing Groundwork’s youth workers to build trust and provide support. Each young person will also receive one-to-one phone calls with their youth worker to help settle them in and support them as they progress.  

“We are very excited to be running the UP programme in Central Bedfordshire. We’ve seen what a difference it can make to the young people that attend, giving them an opportunity to build skills and reflect on their future, in a positive and nurturing space. We are looking forward to welcoming our next group of young people”  

Jenny Samuel, Senior Youth Worker at Groundwork East

“We want to ensure Whipsnade Zoo supports experiences to get closer to nature that are accessible to people of all needs and abilities. We are delighted to work with Groundwork East on the UP programme to give local young people unique opportunities to develop practical lifelong skills at the UK’s largest zoo.” 

Patrick Conlon, Community Engagement Officer at Whipsnade Zoo

UP is open to young people aged 14-18 (up to 25 with additional needs) and is free to attend, with lunch and snacks provided. Transport can also be arranged, if required.

Two cohorts of UP will be running with the first starting on 30th November. To take part, young people need to live, or go to school in, the central Bedfordshire area and be referred by a professional.

For more information and to make a referral please contact Hannah Applegarth at Groundwork East on 01582 720147 or lutonandbedfordshire@groundwork.org.uk