Our Bright Future aims to tackle societal issues; lack of social cohesion and economic opportunities for young people and climate vulnerability. More than 15,000 young people across Northern Ireland will be empowered to help stand up for nature and create a brighter future in their local communities. This is thanks to a £1.8m cash boost from the Big Lottery Fund.

The funding has been awarded to two local charities, Belfast Hills Partnership and Ulster Wildlife. It is part of a new UK-wide £33m programme involving 30 organisations and more than 50,000 young people. Our Bright Future will run over the next five years.

Our Bright Future aims to tackle three big challenges facing society today – a lack of social cohesion, a lack of economic opportunities for young people and environmental vulnerability to climate change. Young people will learn the skills, knowledge and confidence to become environmental leaders and influence decisions at local and national levels. Additionally involvement will improve their employment prospects.


Belfast Hills Partnership will engage with 200 young adults each year. We will help them to design and run environmental projects that have a meaningful impact on their surroundings. We will also hopefully improve cross-cultural and inter-community cohesion. An additional 2,000 young people will get involved through schools, local youth organisations and clubs. Issues that include pollution, wildlife and the archaeology of the Belfast Hills. One of the initiatives underway is the Salmon Project. This project teaches schoolchildren about the lifecycle of the Atlantic salmon as well as the importance of caring for local rivers.

Ulster Wildlife will bring the great outdoors to life for 5,000 young people across Northern Ireland. Young people from Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster, Duke of Edinburghs’ Award and special schools will be afforded new opportunities. They will be given the opportunity to gain new personal and environmental skills, work towards an accredited qualification, as well as engaging with their local community and improving their neighbourhoods through ‘wild ideas’ projects. Research will look into the job skills required for young people wishing to work in the environment sector. The aim is to address skill shortages and gaps in Northern Ireland.

Thoughts on OBF

“We are delighted to be part of this new, exciting youth empowerment programme that will help transform the environment of the Belfast Hills. We want to develop confident, experienced and multi-skilled young people who can find employment, and continue to respect and care for their local green spaces. If you are aged 11-24 years old and want to get involved we want to hear from you.”

Dr Lizzy Pinkerton, Scheme Manager Belfast Hills Partnership

Jennifer Fulton, Chief Executive with Ulster Wildlife said:
“This funding provides a welcome and timely boost for Northern Ireland’s environment and economy. The impacts of investing in young people to become a driving force for change in their local community will be far reaching. On a personal level they will have improved skills, employment opportunities and health and wellbeing. This will also create a better place for us all to live, work and play.”

Stephanie Hilborne OBE, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts said:
“Our Bright Future is an innovative movement for change. It is brilliant that The Big Lottery Fund has recognised that societal and environmental challenges are two sides of the same coin. Similarly the programme supports young people to develop the skills needed to thrive in the workplace. It does so through the environment. We want to see a generation of courageous and wise leaders empowered to change our world for the better.”

Peter Ainsworth, UK Chair, Big Lottery Fund said:
“The environment is where we live. Our Bright Future is designed to unleash the ambition of young people across the UK. They’ll make a personal and collective contribution to making our environment brighter, happier and more resilient to threats like climate change and the waste of natural resources.

“This initiative over the next five years aims to join up the social, economic and environmental benefits that will come from enabling young people to shape their own future and others that follow them.”

To find out more visit www.OurBrightFuture.org.uk