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Young people take action to improve Swindon and Wiltshire environment

3 min read

By Barrie Hudson – 20 December 2023

CharityCommunity

  • The scheme runs nationwide

    The scheme runs nationwide

Ambitious plans to improve the environment in and around the River Ray in Swindon will be spearheaded by young people.

The project, along with work at the River Biss in Trowbridge and chalk streams such as the Wylye, Nadder and Avon around Salisbury, is possible thanks to a new scheme which has brought funding into the region.

Wiltshire Wildlife Trust was among 22 charities to successfully bid for funding from the Blue Influencers Scheme, and is being awarded £20,000 a year for three years. 

The grant will help pay for the employment of a Blue Mentor whose role is to recruit young people to become ‘Blue Influencers’. These young people, aged 10 to 14, with the support of their Blue Mentor, will create and run social action schemes to improve the environment of their schools, neighbourhoods and communities.

The Blue Influencers Scheme is a groundbreaking project from UK outdoor education charity The Ernest Cook Trust, with the ambition to support young people from underserved communities and those living in deprived coastal, estuary and riverside locations by empowering them to tackle environmental and climate issues. 

The £2.25m scheme is being match-funded by The Ernest Cook Trust and the #iwill Fund, and will run for three years. 

Its ambition is to engage more than 4,000 young people as ‘Blue Influencers’, as well as over 15,000 community members across England. 

The #iwill Fund is made possible thanks to £66m joint investment from The National Lottery Community Fund and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to support young people to access high quality social action opportunities. 

The Ernest Cook Trust is acting as a match funder and awarding grants on behalf of the #iwill Fund.

The Scheme is entirely youth-led, and even the selection of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, along with 21 other registered charities, was made by The Ernest Cook Trust’s Youth Advisory Board, made up entirely of young people aged 14-21. 

Additional funds up to £5,000 will also be available for specific projects, and it will again be the Youth Advisory Board members who approve these awards.

Ed Ikin, Chief Executive of The Ernest Cook Trust, said the Blue Influencers Scheme would lead the way in empowering young people to take action.

He added: “Young people are often the most passionate about the environment and are very aware of the issues we face with climate change. 

“The Blue Influencers Scheme will give them the funding, platform and tools they need to make positive changes to benefit their entire community.

“We were pleased to select Wiltshire Wildlife Trust to join the Blue Influencers Scheme and are excited to see just what the young people come up with.”

Joanna Lewis, CEO of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, said: “We are delighted to have received funding via the Blue Influencers Scheme to help young people in the Trowbridge, Salisbury and Swindon areas to create deep, lasting and meaningful connections with the natural environment and their communities via their local blue spaces. 

“Through our Blue Mentor, they will learn and build skills which will help contribute to the local community and build a sense of pride by taking care of the natural world that surrounds them. 

“Our expert Water Team will also be on hand to offer their in-depth knowledge and advice as well as delivering projects that young Blue Influencers can take part in, to help develop their passion and knowledge of river and wetland habitat conservation.”

The Blue Influencers Scheme is a successor to the three-year Green Influencers Scheme, which ran in a similar way and was also match-funded by The Ernest Cook Trust and the #iwill Fund.

However, the Blue Influencers Scheme’s focus is on coastal, riverside and estuary locations and also emphasises giving young people opportunities to learn skills which will aid their employment prospects.

More information about The Ernest Cook Trust’s Blue Influencers Scheme can be found at 

More information about Wiltshire Wildlife Trust can be found at 


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