New programme to help young Londoners set up positive social projects

A new programme has launched that will enable 100 young Londoners to design, create and run their own environmentally-focused social projects

Titled Summer Step, the programme will run from June to August and is open to those aged 16–17 living in the London boroughs of Greenwich, Lambeth, Lewisham, Newham and Tower Hamlets. Organisers believe the scheme will empower young people to help improve their communities and local environments.

Run by Global Action Plan, a UK environmental behavioral change charity, it is the first of the government’s National Citizen Service (NCS) programmes to have a specifically environment and sustainability focus. NCS is an initiative to get 16-17-year-olds volunteering and developing skills over the summer holidays.

Summer Step participants will work in teams with professional support to design their projects and gain new skills in areas such as leadership and community engagement.

“The young people can choose a social action project of their own,” says Global Action Plan project manager Heather Poore. “After spending a week speaking to people in their community they will choose an issue that they feel passionate about making a difference to.”

Projects can aim to tackle any issues within the community including racial tension, relations between different generations, or the need for more green spaces. The only criteria is that they include some element of sustainability within them and therefore could involve environmental conservation, re-developing a communal space or growing a community garden.

The programme will begin with full-time training weeks, involving a team-building week in the countryside followed by a community building week in London.

All volunteers will get a free digital camera to document their progress and there will be an opportunity to gain a United Nations Environment Programme Certificate, an award for projects creating environmental awareness.

At the end of the summer, teams will see their plans become a reality and organisers hope young people will notice a positive difference in themselves and their communities.

Global Action Plan project manager Heather Poore said: “Summer Step will bring together young people from all backgrounds for an exciting getaway adventure. Participants will take on fun new challenges, learn new skills and make a difference to their community.”

Applications are now open.