On Wednesday the 14th of November I was incredibly fortunate in being given the opportunity by Durham Wildlife Trust to represent them as a young person’s voice at the #Wilderfuture Parliamentary reception hosted by Caroline Lucas, Leader of the Green Party.
Being brought up in an environmentally focused family close to Stanley Moss nature reserve I have always had an interest in wildlife but over the past few years, the local Wildlife Trust has nurtured my passion channelling me to the Ecology and Conservation degree I study for today. My journey began through the Young Volunteers programme giving me experience in practical management techniques alongside other young people with a similar interest for understanding the natural world. I was kindly supported by Rainton Meadows volunteers who welcomed me as I joined their team throughout the school holidays.
I was very happy to accept when Durham Wildlife Trust ask me to represent them at Parliamentary reception alongside Steve Gater, the Chair of the Trust. It was an honour to be there on behalf of the many dedicated people who volunteer their time to support the work of Durham Wildlife Trust – I hope I did them all justice.
After introductions to staff members from the other Wildlife Trusts within our region, the day began with a brief overview of the event by Stephanie Hilborne, Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts – the umbrella body that represents Wildlife Trust’s across the country. MP’s began filling into the room, eager to talk to their constituency representatives. I met with a representative for Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington Washington and Sunderland and discussed some of the key environmental issues to be targeted in her area. Bridget Phillipson, MP for Houghton and Sunderland South, was delighted by the Trust’s work, truly understanding how important it is for young people to be immersed in nature so that they can be brought up caring about the planet and commenting on how her own children love their visits to Rainton Meadows.
Further speeches were made by Caroline Lucas who emphasised the need for outdoor engagement and teaching in schools, which Georgina Umney, a young representative from Yorkshire, elaborated on. Georgina told the audience how the Wildlife Trust had changed her career, giving her the opportunity to share her love of the environment through her art. Stephanie Hilborne concluded the proceedings, emphasising the need for an ambitious Environmental Act to protect our wildlife in the future.
Unfortunately, the politics of Brexit meant that Defra Secretary of State Michael Gove couldn’t be in attendance, but I hope the reception has sparked an environmental revolution in politics, with MP’s understanding how essential wildlife is in shaping our upbringing. Having the opportunity to engage with my natural surroundings has improved my life for the better and I believe that every child is entitled to, and needs a #Wilderfuture.