RHS: Helping Hand for Yorkshires Young People

200,000 from the Peter Sowerby Foundation will help RHS deliver horticulture training in disadvantaged communities across region.

Young people living in Yorkshire will now have the opportunity to build horticultural skills to increase their chances of finding work, thanks to a new Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) programme funded by the Peter Sowerby Foundation.

The Peter Sowerby Foundation has donated £200,000 to the RHS to deliver the 3-year programme.

Young people often experience limitations and challenges to accessing existing training and learning opportunities, so the first phase of the programme will focus on engaging youngsters between 16 and 25. This will be widened to engage people of all ages in Yorkshire as the initiative develops.

Traditionally, horticultural learning takes place at land-based colleges but this pilot has been designed to create opportunities for community-based learning in alternative locations across Yorkshire.

Key aims of the initiative are to equip young people with practical skills, to create opportunities for learning linked to future employment, to trigger interest in lifelong learning and to connect with the horticultural skills gap in the sector.

By year three, the RHS Yorkshire team hope nine permanent learning centres will have been established and 650 training opportunities created.

Libby Goodacre, RHS Regional Development management, said: “We’re delighted the pitch to the Peter Sowerby Foundation was successful. This programme will allow us to bring the joys of horticulture to so many young people in Yorkshire who might never have considered it as a career before.

“We’ll be working with some fantastic partners to help us deliver the scheme and to create a regional network of sustainable community enterprises. Everyone in the team is excited by the prospect of launching the programme and to develop a scalable and sustainable model that is, ultimately, intended to be rolled out nationally.”

David Aspinall, Chair of Trustees at the Peter Sowerby Foundation, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with the RHS in this exciting new project. Our benefactor, Peter Sowerby, is himself a North Yorkshireman and this work focuses on his and, in particular, his late wife Anne’s love of the natural world and horticulture. In today’s economic climate, we need to do all we can to help young people to obtain the skills and experience they need to secure a good career and, through this exciting new initiative, we expect many more individuals to gain access to the fulfilling opportunities available in the world of horticulture.”

The project is a part of a wider RHS investment programme in Yorkshire to bring education and support to grassroots gardeners in the region.

This includes a £100,000 fund scheme. Already, 32 gardening groups have successfully applied for cash and support to fund projects including a homeless charity in Bradford which has built a kitchen garden for its service users.

The RHS Yorkshire team, Libby Goodacre and Sarah-Jane Mason, are responsible for delivering the Peter Sowerby-funded programme.

To find out more information about the RHS investment programme in Yorkshire, please visit: www.rhs.org.uk/Gardening

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