Press release: Funding secured for 400 young people to better connect with nature and become environmental leaders

26 June 2023

UpRising and Shropshire Wildlife Trust are celebrating today after being awarded £1.49m from The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest community funder in the UK, to co-deliver the Environmental Leadership Programme 2.0 (ELP).

So many things can be done to help make our world a better, more sustainable place to live in, but it can be difficult to figure out how to get involved and make a difference. Research by Shropshire Wildlife Trust found that 65% of young people aged 18-24 were extremely concerned about climate change, 78% would like to do more to tackle it and yet only 18% currently campaign about it.

Thanks to National Lottery players, UpRising's expertise in engaging underrepresented youth will be combined with Shropshire Wildlife Trust's experience in outdoor learning and nature connection to create the Environmental Leadership Programme 2.0.  

This innovative initiative is designed to support 4 cohorts of 100 young people aged 18-25 from underrepresented and underserved communities across the West Midlands. It aims to strengthen young people's connection to nature, deepen their understanding of what drives environmental behaviour change, and enable them to develop and implement nature-focused campaigns in their local communities.

The programme will be free and have a blended learning approach to accommodate participants' busy schedules.

By the end of the programme, a 400 strong cohort of graduates from the programme will have developed their knowledge, networks, skills and confidence they need to become the next green leaders!

Information about how to get involved is available on a new website dedicated to the programme, visit 

Amira Ismail, Birmingham-based Trustee of UpRising and programme alumna said: “We’re thrilled to have led this bid and to be shaping this programme with our partners at Shropshire Wildlife Trust. With the lack of diversity in the environmental profession – both in terms of class and ethnicity - it’s never been more important for the young people UpRising supports to have meaningful opportunities to develop their leadership skills. With the ELP’s focus on nature connection, our young leaders will be at the forefront of driving change in the future.

Thanks to National Lottery players, we will be able to work with SWT to support young people across the West Midlands, co-creating a programme that will make a big difference to young people’s lives, their communities, and their planet.”

Helen Trotman, Head of People of Wildlife at Shropshire Wildlife Trust said: “We are delighted to be working with UpRising to embed natured connectedness in the Environmental Leadership Programme. We know that nature benefits people’s mental and physical health and a better connection with nature empowers people to do more for our environment.”

Thanks to National Lottery players, The National Lottery Community Fund will distribute at least £4 billion by 2030, supporting activities that create resilient communities that are more inclusive and environmentally sustainable.

Nick Gardner, Head of Climate Action at The National Lottery Community Fund: “Thanks to National Lottery players, we’re delighted to be able to support the delivery of the Environmental Leadership Programme 2.0, and welcome UpRising and Shropshire Wildlife Trust to our Climate Action Fund network.

“Our new strategy set our focus on four key missions: to support communities to come together, be environmentally sustainable, help children and young people thrive and enable people to live healthier lives.

“This funding illustrates perfectly how a project can work across all of these missions at once; it will help engage more young people with local climate action, helping them to make a difference in communities across the West Midlands."

Note to editors:


Rachel Schofield - Comms, Campaigns & Marketing Manager at Shropshire Wildlife Trust

[email protected] or 07956 718472 or [email protected]

Rukaiya Jeraj – Head of Programmes at UpRising and ELP Programme Manager [email protected]

Images: You are welcome to use images from this dropbox which are available for one-off use only in connection to this story.  All photographers must be credited.

About UpRising

UpRising is a UK-wide youth leadership development organisation and recognised as a pioneering charity promoting the issues of social mobility and equality. Our mission is to open up pathways to power for a diverse pool of young people who have talent, but lack opportunity. We equip under-represented young people with the knowledge, networks, skills and confidence to fulfil their leadership potential, find new opportunities and transform the world around them through social action. We offer a range of leadership and employability programmes for 18 - 25 year olds and have been delivering programmes since 2008. In that time, we’ve supported over 5,000 young people who’ve impacted nearly 20,000 others in their communities.

About Shropshire Wildlife Trust

Shropshire Wildlife Trust (SWT) has a vision of a thriving natural world, where Shropshire's wildlife and natural habitats play a valued role in addressing the climate and ecological emergencies, and people are inspired and empowered to take action for nature. We combine projects across Shropshire (including Telford & Wrekin) with advocacy and campaigning to restore nature and to engage people. We manage over 40 nature reserves and have almost 50 staff, 300 volunteers, and over 9000 members. SWT is an autonomous charity, but we are increasingly working collectively, as part of The Wildlife Trusts (TWT), to ensure that our local actions have a national impact and help to address global issues.

About The National Lottery Community Fund 

We are the largest non-statutory community funder in the UK – community is at the heart of our purpose, vision and name.  

We support activities that create resilient communities that are more inclusive and environmentally sustainable and that will strengthen society and improve lives across the UK. 

We’re proud to award money raised by National Lottery players to communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and to work closely with government to distribute vital grants and funding from key Government programmes and initiatives.   

As well as responding to what communities tell us is important to them, our funding is focused on four key missions, supporting communities to:  

1. Come together 

2. Be environmentally sustainable 

3. Help children and young people thrive 

4. Enable people to live healthier lives. 

Thanks to the support of National Lottery players, we distribute around £500 million a year through 10,000+ grants and plan to invest over £4 billion of funding into communities by 2030. We’re privileged to be able to work with the smallest of local groups right up to UK-wide charities, enabling people and communities to bring their ambitions to life.   

National Lottery players raise over £30 million each week for good causes throughout the UK. Since The National Lottery began in 1994, £47 billion has been raised and more than 670,000 individual grants have been made across the UK - the equivalent of around 240 National Lottery grants in every UK postcode district.