Deprived children are to be helped to connect with the countryside through a new £10 million fund, Defra Secretary Michael Gove has said.
The funding was announced by Mr Gove last night (January 31) and is part of the ‘Year of Green Action’ – a 12-month drive to get more people from all backgrounds involved in projects to improve the natural world.
Grants will be awarded to schemes which offer greater access to care farms, helping children and adults facing disadvantage or social exclusion to benefit from activities on a working farm.
Other projects which increase school visits to National Parks, wildlife sites and local parks will also benefit.
Mr Gove said: “I am delighted to launch the Year of Green Action. Over the next 12 months we will work with businesses and communities to create ways for people from all backgrounds to connect with nature, protect our environment, and contribute to restoring our natural world.
“As the future stewards of our planet, children and young people have a vital role to play in this.
“The £10million boost outlined today will help ensure there are no barriers for young people to access the benefits of the natural world and importantly enable them to play their part in environmental protection.”
As part of the programme, the National Centre for Social Research will be carrying out a study to understand how outdoor activities affect pupils’ mental health and engagement with school.
The Country Trust, which works to increase knowledge of food and farming among deprived children and those with educational needs and disabilities, has welcomed the announcement.
We couldn’t agree with this sentiment more. We’re about to launch our #YearOfGreenAction visits for children from deprived areas as part of this initiative. Connecting children with our magnificent countryside has never been more important. @michaelgove @BenGillies888 @FGAbiKay t.co/kS38EPD25y— Country Trust (@CountryTrust)
We couldn’t agree with this sentiment more. We’re about to launch our #YearOfGreenAction visits for children from deprived areas as part of this initiative. Connecting children with our magnificent countryside has never been more important. @michaelgove @BenGillies888 @FGAbiKay https://t.co/kS38EPD25y— Country Trust (@CountryTrust) February 1, 2019
This new initiative will build on the work already being done by LEAF’s Open Farm Sunday (OFS).
A survey of people who attended an OFS event in 2017 found 91 per cent of visitors left more appreciative of the work farmers do.
It also showed 89 per cent felt more connected with farmers, and 73 per cent would actively seek out British produce in future.