The news is currently filled with stories of job losses, mental health issues and concerns for young people’s wellbeing in the wake of Covid19 – to help counter this the Belfast Hills Partnership are offering a FREE environmental sector training programme for young people aged 18 – 24, with no experience necessary. The Trainee Ranger scheme, now in its fourth year, is about improving the health and wellbeing of those taking part, whilst at the same time increasing their employability skills as they take part in a range of practical conservation tasks such as tree planting, habitat management and wildlife surveys.

Successful candidates will be required to volunteer every Tuesday (10am to 3pm) from 14th September for 12 weeks; last day of the scheme will be on 30th November. The programme will be based across the Belfast Hills, with location information sent each week in order for the Trainee Rangers to plan their route.

The programme is funded by The National Lottery Community Fund’s Our Bright Future project, a forward-thinking social movement that’s about supporting young people to lead progressive change in their communities and local environment. They’re tackling environmental issues and the lack of opportunities 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.

Patricia Deeney, the Youth Development Officer at the Belfast Hills Partnership, said:

“With the job market the way it is, employers are expecting applicants to have a certain amount of work experience under their belt before they are even considered for a job. But how do young people get that work experience in the first place, especially in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic? We believe that the Trainee Ranger scheme can fill this void.

“By completing the 12 week programme, young people will not only increase their practical experience in the workplace, but they will also receive nationally recognised awards and gain a Lantra accreditation in the use of strimmers and brushcutters, something that will look great on their CV’s!

“It has long been established that getting close to nature and the outdoors improves health and wellbeing. Our goal is to help young people to develop confidence and self-esteem by nurturing their connection to the local environment, leading to greater involvement in the Belfast Hills or to further volunteering, training or employment.”

The deadline for applications is Tuesday 31st August 2021, with the first day of the scheme starting on Tuesday 14th September 2021 for 12 weeks. Download an application form below, or contact [email protected] or phone the Belfast Hills Partnership office on 028 9060 3466 for more information.

To get an idea of what’s involved in the Trainee Ranger Scheme, check out this video from a previous year…