What has the group you are nominating achieved? *
The Green Grants Team distributes grant funding to schools & youth organizations across Newcastle & Northumberland. Some of the team have acted as panel members, assessing and appraising applications for financial support, and making the difficult decisions over how the Fund should be distributed. Leaders have been responsible for organizing tasks, risk assessments, working with school leaders to plan timetables, then recruiting other students. Others in the team have been rejuvenating school wildlife areas, digging and relining ponds, planting trees and creating pollinator-friendly spaces, and planning out new veg-growing areas alongside young people to revolutionize food growing across the area.
The group's enthusiasm and commitment have been exceptional - reaching hundreds of children and young people, teaching them about a wide range of environmental issues and solutions, contributing massive physical and environmental improvements to numerous school grounds far and wide - from Berwick to Allendale! The impact on schools' awareness of Newcastle University, NUSU and Go Volunteer has been phenomenal, as it is rare that University students reach out into communities so far from the city centre. The team has acted as ambassadors for the University both to school staff and pupils, who may well become future Newcastle University students themselves one day.
This group of student volunteers deserves recognition for all of the skills and tenacity that they have brought to the project - some members are new to environmental work but skilled at working with young people, others are blossoming in their environmental expertise and have offered valued advice on pond renovation, soil suitability for wildflower areas, or food growing expertise. It has made a huge positive impact on the schools and youth organizations that they have worked with and benefited, and on the children whom they have been working alongside.
The team have overcome several major challenges - from effectively matching availability of support teaching staff to availability of vehicles and volunteers in order to get the job finished within planned timescales, to planning out a safe plan for temporarily re-homing a massive pond full of frogs, newts and other wildlife whilst the team rejuvenated a wildlife area and re-laid a new pond liner.
The team leaders have coordinated groups of volunteers, school staff and pupils to work together towards a shared goal. Each Green Grants project is very different from the last, so they have had to learn effectively from one another, undertake extensive background research, work effectively alongside school staff and pick up expertise from local people and skilled craftspeople.
The team communicates very well between themselves and with the external partner organizations. This has been key to the projects' success. They have learned well from the challenges of previous projects, reflecting on the teams' experience, such as the difficulties of putting up polytunnels and the impact of weather conditions on certain tasks. This learning has been shared effectively and acted upon in subsequent projects.
The positive impact on the children involved in all of the projects is substantial and has had an extremely wide reach - across the reach of Northumberland from Berwick to Allendale, Mickley and Otterburn, and throughout central Newcastle. This group have presented an active, innovative, reliable and passionate image of Newcastle University students to many school-aged children and their teachers, parents, and community volunteers. The fact that they've been willing to stay two hours late to get a task completed, or have gone the extra mile to work around when certain classes of school children are available to make sure everyone gets and equal chance of involvement and benefit is a credit to them and the University.
Summary of your entry (<50 words) *
The Green Grants Team has provided a huge boost to rural and urban schools and youth groups - improving school grounds with outdoor learning areas, building food-growing spaces, creating wildlife areas and working with children and young people to share the importance of living life in a sustainable way.