Investment theme: Building skills and confidence, Improving health and well-being
Have you felt the fear, loneliness, confusion and loss of bullying? Imagine going through every day at school ignored by your peers or abused and insulted by them.
Have you experienced the heart-stopping moment of touching your pockets or bag and not being able to find your smartphone? Imagine feeling like that every second of every day – this, though simplistic, is anxiety.
Self-harm, loneliness, depression, anxiety, behavioural problems and obsessive behaviours can negatively affect social development or educational attainment – these are exactly the challenges that the Green Team and their project Green Angels aim to reduce.
Working with a school in East Lothian to deliver a pilot for the region, Penny and her Green Team have taken a group of 8 girls into the East Lothian wilderness to build paths, bug hotels, self-esteem and relationships
Probably the most fun was learning how to build a fire!
The Green Team offers opportunities for young people to take part in practical environmental projects as a way of furthering personal and social development. They deliver a range of activities, all local to Edinburgh and the Lothians, ranging from practical conservation tasks to encouraging enjoyment of the outdoors.
These activities were supported by East Lothian Countryside Rangers, volunteers and guidance staff from the girl’s school.
The project participants, all girls aged 12 -1 4, were referred to the project by Guidance staff at the school. The small group size (max 8) enabled a safe and supportive environment to be established where girls can be themselves and explore and experience new things without the fear or anxiety of getting things wrong.
The girls worked together to improve the environment, litter picking, getting involved in habitat improvements, cutting down unsafe trees and helping with footpath upgrades. They were shown how to safely use hand tools and light a fire in a storm kettle (offering hot chocolate, tea and coffee to all the guests!)
Freedom from the school bell, from classes and the structure of school, from pressurised school relationships, meant the girls had the freedom to be themselves and the freedom to make friendships. Their confidence blossomed and their resilience increased.
The Women’s Fund for Scotland invested in the East Lothian Green Angels pilot with a grant of almost £2,000 which was used to cover the cost of expertise and resources to run the course for 8 days.
The girls on the group took part in a ‘connection to nature’ (CNI) questionnaire, based on research by the University of Essex. There was an improvement in scores for all the participants. At the end of the programme, there was a correlation between greater confidence and self-esteem and more positive feelings towards nature. After learning and singing some campfire songs, the girls even wrote and performed their own song with the chorus
“Who are we? GIRLS, we wear our green halos
Who are we? GIRLS, we are the green angels!”
In their own words the girls “wake up every Wednesday and they are raring to go, buzzing and ready to go”. For these 8 girls, the Green Angels pilot really has created freedom and fought fear with a campfire…(and connection to nature and development of outdoor skills of course).
Final word goes to Penny, the inspirational leader behind the Green Team and Green Angels
“Thanks for the funding from Women’s Fund for Scotland. Even small pieces of funding help us to deliver amazing work and create opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t exist.
The application form was straightforward and the support from Foundation Scotland is fantastic.
We were delighted with our funding as it enabled us to create a whole new piece of work with long-term outcomes.”
If you’d like to know more about making a donation to support organisations like the Green Angels Group, through the Women’s Fund for Scotland please get in touch with Shona Blakeley, Development Manager by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0131 524 0353.