A brand new project has been launched in Westmorland and Furness to improve the local communities.

The initiative, a multi-partnered endeavour called PLACE (Paths to Leadership: Active Community Engagement- youth-led climate and nature action), aims to engage young people in a number of activities connecting them to their 'place.'

Cumbria Development Education Centre (CDEC), Another Way, Cumbria Action for Sustainability (CAfS), Cumbria Biodiversity Data Centre (CBDC), and Lakeland Arts have teamed up for the project.

They've been funded by a £99,657 grant from Westmorland and Furness Council, sourced from its Climate and Nature Partnership Fund.

The Westmorland Gazette: PLACE has been launched in Westmorland and Furness

This council fund is well-known for supporting collaborative efforts in addressing climate change, assisting in nature recovery and biodiversity protection and ensuring a fair transition to a low carbon future within the community.

Starting in January 2024, and running for 15 months, the PLACE project will involve young people in various activities, connecting them with each other and their community.

The Westmorland Gazette: The PLACE team are looking to combat climate change

The project aligns with Westmorland and Furness Council's vision of making the area an ideal place to live, work and thrive.

Key elements of PLACE include equipping young, passionate individuals to combat the effects of climate change through practical, locally-focused projects – these actions aim to enhance local biodiversity and develop strategies to support young people's mental health.

Councillor Giles Archibald, Westmorland and Furness Council Cabinet Member for climate and biodiversity, said: "As a council, we have an ambition to provide leadership on climate change and in local nature recovery, working to ensure that the council is carbon net zero as soon as possible and that the area it serves is carbon net zero by 2037.

"A key focus of ours is to encourage and support local initiatives so I am delighted we are able to provide funding to such a fantastic and wide range of partnerships such as this one in delivering their ongoing work to tackle climate change and recover nature."

Place participants will also be creating tools, hosting events, and boosting community engagement in environmental projects through both traditional media and social media.

The initiative is expected to result in improvements in green spaces and biodiversity, stronger connections within communities, and increased opportunities for jobs and learning.

Lucy Grecic, a 17-year-old student from Kendal College stated after a recent litter-picking session.

She said: “It’s been so nice to hear all the different ages – young and old – and what they have to say about Kendal and the planet. I’ve made loads of links today…and we’re talking about doing our own thing, so it’s been good for linking.”

Project coordinator at CDEC, Georgina Walters expressed the objectives of PLACE as she said: “The project is built to help support young people so that they feel agency and increase confidence that they can do something. We can help provide resources and connections to do that."