Ryan, 16, is a young volunteer on Groundwork’s Future Proof Parks programme – an initiative that brings young people and Friends of Park groups together to preserve heritage in local parks.

“I first heard about Future Proof Parks on Facebook. I saw they were advertising for young people to get involved in Elba Park and thought it would be a good opportunity to meet new friends and get some work experience for my CV.

“I’ve been involved in loads of different things – from litter picking, to planting! I’ve learnt loads of new things about local wildlife and natural heritage that I didn’t know before and I’ve been involved in some local nature surveys in the river where we found fish and water bugs.

“Being involved in the programme has definitely made me more confident with my abilities. It’s great to know that I have made a difference, as well as developing outdoor skills such as gardening. My group has made a fairy dell in the forest to attract children and families to the park as there is not any play equipment. We also worked on the Pick-axe Bridge which was in disrepair and made it look nice again.

“Future Proof Parks has helped me to understand more about my local history which means a lot to me as my family come from mining heritage and Elba Park was a mine in the past. I feel like I’m positively contributing to my local area by making the place nicer so that more people will visit.

“It’s been great working alongside the Friends of Park Group and I definitely want to get more involved in their work and carry on volunteering. I feel so much more connected to my local park and it feels good to put my own stamp on it by seeing the lasting effect of the work I have done.”