Our very first Green Thinkers programme came to end recently, gaining encouraging feedback including “ I  over enjoyed myself”, “I didn’t want it to end” and “The only thing I would change is to make it longer so we could experience more green spaces”. 

Green Thinkers is a  6-week  programme in partnership with Plymouth City Council that aims to engage 18-25 year olds in  Plymouth  in working in green spaces across the city. It uses a tried and tested model by Real Ideas  that combines  group activities, one to one support and hands-on work experience. It gives  opportunities to meet and learn from employers. Throughout the programme, participants develop soft skills to prepare them for employment in the 21st  century. They are  recognised with earned digital badges,  including  this new one  written just for the programme.  

The varied practical days included deadheading at Devonport Park, managing overgrowth at Central Park, tree first aid and learning about the benefits of beaver enclosures at Poole Farm and building insect hotels for an alley way in Stoke- which is crucial for urban eco cycles.

Working in  the unthreatening  outdoors on mindful tasks allowed for important conversations to develop.  What is armistice day? What is  non-binary? Why do people say thank you? Can you really eat  this rosemary bush?  Why do I have to change my plan?  Why do other people make mistakes?  You  keep saying we should be ourselves at work so why can’t I wear a green crushed velvet shirt open to the belly button to my interview?  Why has Kevin been replaced with a banana? 

And the learning didn’t stop there. Many times, I thought I was the one on a learning programme. The experience of supporting young people with neurodiversity stretched and challenged me. Why aren’t my trusty training techniques that haven’t let me down for 17 years not working???! The unique lenses, the specialities, the deep level knowledge, the insight, the lack of insight, the straight faces, the 100% commitment, the unexpected gems…and the fantastic job offers!!

Thank you to Real Ideas for  providing  me  with this opportunity to grow. Real Ideas  have a powerful and privileged opportunity to have a life long-lasting impact on young people who have previously been let down by government systems and institutions. 

Congratulations to our participants who so brilliantly applied their learning to secure Kickstart roles with Plymouth City Council’s Natural Grid team. They’ll be working with National Trust Rangers to increase biodiversity across 12 nature reserve sites in Plymouth. The group of 10 Kickstarters in total will receive in-work support from Real Ideas so they continue to grow their skills and confidence and secure a role they love following their 6-month placement.

We have a second cohort of Green Thinkers starting on the 14th of February and we are taking referrals now. Click here for more information.