The Belfast Hills Partnership is delighted to be part of The Big Lottery Fund’s new project called ‘Our Bright Future’. Our Bright Future is a forward-thinking social movement that’s about supporting young people to lead progressive change in their communities and local environment.
We’re tackling environmental issues and the lack of opportunity for young people by using one problem to help another. It’s about unleashing the potential of young people, so they can make a big, positive impact and become an unstoppable force for good.
Many of our sessions and volunteering schemes are run in conjunction with Millennium Volunteers and the John Muir Trust, which means participants will gain nationally recognised certificates and awards for their work. These, along with the experience young people will gain from taking part, will greatly enhance their employability and CV.
Below is an example of some of the days or tasks groups can do with the Belfast Hills Partnership. They are all aimed at giving young people positive experiences of the wild places right on their doorstep. These can be undertaken as a one off activity or day, or as part of a longer John Muir Award. There are three Levels to the John Muir Award. The Discovery Award (4 days) is undertaken first. You can encourage further activity and involvement by moving on to the next Levels – Explorer (8 days) and Conserver (20 days) Awards.
All of our sessions are FREE to participate in!
- Hikes – We lead hikes across the Belfast Hills, with different trails to suit all abilities. As well as being a wonderful form of exercise, there are many mental health and social benefits too from being out and surrounded by nature.
- Orienteering / Geocaching – These sessions are basically like giant treasure hunts in the hills and are a great way of developing navigation and map reading skills, whilst also trying to problem solve as the young people try and locate each control or geocache.
- Nature sessions – These sessions are designed to give young people an introduction to the wonderful wildlife they have on their doorstep. Learners can explore and develop a deeper understanding of their local environment whilst gaining skills, developing confidence and even help contribute to a nationwide network of scientific study by reporting their wildlife sightings. The Belfast Hills has a range of different habitats just waiting to be explored, such as rivers/ponds, woodlands, hedgerows, heathland and meadows.
- Practical conservation tasks – Young people can help conserve the natural beauty of the Belfast Hills by assisting with a range of practical conservation tasks at various sites across the hills area. Each task depends on the season and the needs of the site managers. Thorough demonstrations and training will be given for each task by experienced staff, who are also fully qualified first aiders. Tasks include tree planting, wildflower creation & maintenance, scrub removal, coppicing, litter picking etc.
- Mountain rescue simulation – young people will work together to conduct a number of problem solving and simulated mountain emergency procedures. They will receive brief instruction and training on mountain navigation, communication and survival skills before being split into teams and receiving their mission brief and carrying out the simulated rescue.
- Wild skills – young people will get the chance to learn some basic bushcraft skills including shelter building, foraging and campfire cooking.
- We also have a number of other projects that groups can get involved with, such as improving school grounds for wildlife, young people led projects (16 – 24years) where we support young people with their own ideas for environmental change and various training courses. Get in touch for more information on these.
HOW TO GET INVOLVED
Just contact Drew, Patricia or Laura to find out more, or to book a session.
11 – 18 years – Drew Launchbury (Hills Outreach Officer) [email protected]
16 – 24 years – Patricia Deeney (Youth Development Officer) [email protected]
Early Years, Primary & Beyond
Our Environmental Engagement Officer Laura can offer outdoor learning sessions to all ages, including primary school learners. This programme is funded by the Ernest Cook Trust and the National Lottery Heritage Fund NI. These sessions can be delivered on a site in the Belfast Hills or within your own school grounds. Activities can include pond dipping, bug hunts, nature games, walk & talks, orienteering, biodiversity surveys and much more. Get in touch with Laura for more information – [email protected]