Celebrating the thousands of young people protecting Cornwall’s coastline

Beach Rangers at a Snorkel Safari, Image by Lewis M Jefferies

Young people in Cornwall are facing a crisis, as emerging evidence from The Health Foundation on the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic shows that people aged 12–24 years are one of the worst-affected groups, particularly in terms of the labour market and mental health outcomes. But thanks to Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s (CWT) Your Shore Beach Rangers Project, being showcased in a new film being launched today, over 16,000 young people have been given opportunities to improve their employability skills and health and wellbeing tools to ensure a bright future for both themselves and the environment in which they live.

The Your Shore Beach Rangers (YSBR) Project, a collaboration between Cornwall Wildlife Trust and Cornwall College, has spent the last five years uniting communities and young people in Cornwall to combat threats to their local marine environment whilst also providing the support and training needed via its Beach Ranger Academy to ensure that the next generation have the skills they need to be proactive in creating positive change in their lives.

Working successfully in 16 schools, two universities, 8 colleges, and numerous youth and home school groups around Cornwall, the Beach Rangers academy has seen the graduation of 548 Beach Rangers who have completed specified hours of volunteering, skills training, event planning, and fitness and wellbeing. Thousands more young people have also been impacted by the Project, by either attending public events, partaking in training within their school, or linking with one of Cornwall’s local marine groups.

YSBR youth forum reps and Community Engagement Officer Jax at the Our Bright Future Conference in Belfast

YSBR Community Engagement Officer Jax Keenan with youth forum reps at the Our Bright Future Conference in Belfast

The Beach Rangers Academy has empowered young people who are passionate about the marine environment, giving them the skills, confidence and experience they need to pursue an environmental career if they wish, and to volunteer and make their voice heard.

I have gone on to work for Parley for the Oceans on their summer tour and continued to engage with my local community with new projects including community recycling programmes, Yellow Fish Campaign projects and engaging with the secondary school on marine art days. The project gave me the confidence to speak up and I know whatever job I move into next, I will continue to strive for sustainability and have the confidence to suggest ideas in whatever sector I am in.
Zoe Gasgoyne
Beach Ranger and member of the Bude Marine Group

YSBR is part of the National Lottery Community Fund’s Our Bright Future movement, one of 31 youth-led projects around the UK which empower young people to help their local environment. They achieve this through ‘Three Asks’, identified by their Youth Forum as what young people want from organisations: more time spent learning in and about nature, support in getting into environmental careers, and to have an environmental voice which is listened to by employers, organisations and policy makers.

Young child admiring the seagrass in the surrounding waters of St Michael's Mount

Seagrass SUP Session, Image by Ocean High

Young people deserve a healthy planet, a thriving economy and a bright future. At the moment, this vision is being tainted by huge hardships faced during the present pandemic. This makes projects like Your Shore Beach Rangers and those others in the Our Bright Future portfolio so valuable and timely, both on a local and national scale.
Abby Crosby
Your Shore Beach Rangers Project Manager

Though the Your Shore Beach Rangers project is ending in Spring 2021, it leaves a legacy of amazing opportunities to get involved in marine conservation in Cornwall.  Educational resources for the Beach Rangers Academy training will be available online through the Cornwall College Open Moodle site, which you can also find through our website, so schools, youth groups and families can continue to educate and empower young people.

The Project is also launching a new film this February, available to view on the Cornwall Wildlife Trust YouTube from today, so all viewers can celebrate its achievements from the past five years.