Environmental scheme to help young offenders wins national funding

A scheme that sees young people who have offended work to improve County Durham’s countryside has won thousands of pounds worth of funding in a public vote.

The Durham Woodland Revival project, which aims to improve the county’s woodlands, has teamed up with The Skill Mill, a social enterprise project that gives young people who have offended a second chance by offering on-the-job training in environmental countryside management.

The partnership will now receive £4,000 of funding from the TransPennine Express(TPE) Transform Community Grant scheme, which will enable them to improve and manage woodland in Ferryhill Carrs, whilst at the same time supplying young people who have offended with valuable work experience and allowing them to earn environmental skills and qualifications.

Cllr Olwyn Gunn, Cabinet member for children and young people’s services said: “Programmes like this one offer a fantastic social and learning environment for young people. Our participants will receive valuable work experience whilst also gaining independence and developing essential life skills such as team work and communication skills.”

This year TPE received 114 applications from projects around the country, requesting in excess of £450,000 to support work to improve the environment, promote social inclusion and tackle youth unemployment.

The Ferryhill Carrs scheme was shortlisted, alongside 23 other projects from around the country and competed against five other schemes from the North East, North and West Yorkshire region to win the funding.

Keith Appleton, Durham County Council’s Skill Mill manager, said: “The Ferryhill Carrs Improvement Scheme is a new innovative partnership between Durham Woodland Revival and Skill Mill aimed at improving the environment, promoting social inclusion and tackling unemployment amongst some of the county’s most disadvantaged young people.  When completed, this project will leave a lasting legacy not only for those directly involved, but the wider community.”

Ken Bradshaw, Durham County Council’s Durham Woodland Revival development manager said “We’re delighted that our project has been awarded this funding. TransPennine Express staff and customers voted for the schemes that they felt were most deserving and we’re very proud that they chose our project.

“As well as helping local young people to get back on track and managing some beautiful landscapes, the TPE funding is also likely to attract further funding, which is very exciting and would allow us to support even more young people and make further environmental improvements.”

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