Think Green

Young people across South & East Cumbria will be inspired to follow in Greta Thunberg’s footsteps thanks to funding from The Ernest Cook Trust national educational charity. The programme is called ‘Green Futures’ nationally - and we are branding our local offer as ‘Think Green’.

Oaklea Trust has received funding to support the employment of a ‘Green Mentor’ who will enable young people to lead the way as ‘Green Influencers’ on social action projects in their communities. The pioneering Green Influencers Scheme is a project match-funded through the #iwill Fund which is funded by The National Lottery Community Fund and Department of Culture, Media & Sport which are each investing £25million seed funding to support young people to access high-quality social action opportunities.

Green Influencers aged from 10 to 14-years-old will spring up across Cumbria after Oaklea was among 36 host organisations awarded grants to support the employment of 40 Green Mentor posts. Together they will turn words into action with a wide range of measures to protect and enhance the local environment and tackle climate change.

Jack Monopoli, who will take on the role of Green Mentor for Oaklea, said: “We were delighted to receive the funding from The Ernest Cook Trust which will enable us to help young people from across the Eden Valley, South Lakeland and Furness areas of Cumbria to support their communities with environmental projects. We’re honoured to be a host organisation for the Green Influencers Scheme which is being rolled out across England and we’re excited about the future because we know this will make a real difference to our communities. What is really special about Green Influencers’ Scheme is that it will give young people a chance to lead the way and offer the chance to learn through hands-on outdoor activities. We’re sure that young Cumbrians will step forward and join the scheme so we can work together to make sure it has a really positive impact on our communities.”

Over the next two years, under the Green Influencers Scheme, The Ernest Cook Trust will pay Oaklea Trust £18,000 annually to fund the Green Mentor post to kick-start the programme with further financial support to ensure they instigate lasting change right across their communities. The young environmental activists will be at the forefront of youth social action projects that will benefit schools and communities across England after The Ernest Cook Trust awarded grants worth a total of £720,000 to host organisations.

Dr Victoria Edwards OBE, Chief Executive of The Ernest Cook Trust, said: “Inspired by teenagers like Greta Thunberg, young people across England have been leading the climate change and wildlife crisis debate. The Ernest Cook Trust’s new funding programme will empower young people in Cumbria to follow in Greta’s footsteps and positively engage in environmental social action projects. The pandemic has a huge impact on the communities the Trust supports but by campaigning, fundraising and volunteering, the Green Influencers will create long-lasting benefits for everyone.”

The scheme is being rolled out nationwide following successful pilot schemes at Action for Conservation in London, Beverley-based East Riding Voluntary Action Services, Groundwork Greater Manchester, Groundwork Northamptonshire and Staffordshire Wildlife Trust. The initiative also gives participants a valuable opportunity to develop leadership skills. Nine people aged 14 to 20 are members of the Scheme’s Youth Advisory Board. They have steered strategic decision-making and will help select grant awards for Green Influencers projects.

Anyone interested in joining the ‘Think Green’ Green Influencers Scheme in Cumbria should call the Oaklea Trust on 01539 735025 or E Join us

For information about the Green Influencers Scheme visit The Ernest Cook Trust website or email

New from 2022 -Think Green Group for South Lakes!

Meet Wednesday’s Kendal Library 5-7pm To book Book here or just ask for more details

Call to action -How it started….February 2021

We really want to hear from organisations and individual with an interest in young people -so we can share ideas and not duplicate effort…here’s Jack:

Tales from the Riverbank

Join us for our first meeting - via Zoom at 1800 on March 5th! - Here’s Jack to tell us more about what our plans are over the coming week

What will it involve?…

First Annual Conference - Oaklea Think Green join other like minded people across England

On Tuesday 30 March Oaklea Director, Sue Green, Children & Young People’s Team Manager Matthew Douglas and Think Green lead, Jack joined the Annual Conference for ‘Green Futures’ which was held virtually by Zoom…here’s what was on the agenda -we will share some of what happened with you once we all meet up.

Have a look at this video regarding empowering young people

May 2021 - Going Green in Eden District - big funding announcement to expand our offer in Eden

Find out more here Green Mentors for Eden thanks to funders


In a nutshell

The aim is to engage young people aged between 11 and 20 (with a focus on the ages 11-14) with their environment and instil in them the importance of understanding and caring for the natural world in order to preserve our planet and the lives of all its inhabitants. The project will encourage a series of actions to be undertaken by the young people with leadership from the Green Mentors (Oaklea Trust, Ernest Cook) in order to further their understanding and involvement with their environment, as well as focus on raising awareness by youth led community service projects. The project will also record data regarding the ideas and wellbeing of young people across the board to give us an idea of how environmental thinking and action can affect their mental health.

How will we do this during the challenges of a pandemic?

Initially, we intended to liaise with schools and begin making our presence known with a series of projects and introductory groups, however due to the Covid-19 pandemic this is no longer feasible. So, we will utilise the tried and tested benefit of forming a Youth Group. By including the successful youth groups that we at Oaklea have striven to form and keep running during Covid, we will have a strong basis for engaging young people during this time of isolation. (Social Media will be a valuable tool in creating and maintaining the conversation with our target audience -which the young people will help create and deliver).

What kind of projects will ‘Think Green’ undertake with our Young People?

Our projects will be distinctly broken up into three key categories:

  • Education – The first stage of all of our programs will be an education stage. We will look to engage and educate on the major focal points of environmental awareness and the importance of being green minded, through a range of methods such as activities, day trips, discussions and other smaller projects. We hope to engage in these five key points of environmentalism – Climate Change, Pollution, Deforestation, Water Pollution and Biodiversity. Teaching young people of these important issues is key in helping them understand the reasoning behind the next two parts, as well as engaging them in the importance of the issues.
  • Campaign – We will seek to support the young people on a series of campaigns to challenge the local community to think green and express to them why it is important to do so. Campaigning can take many different forms, from writing a letter drafted by the youth to important public figures, to reducing plastic intake within their own household.
  • Practical – Educational activities and campaigning will provide groundwork for larger, practical ventures as part of the Green Movement. We will undertake a variety of practical projects that are (with encouragement and support) chosen, organised and led by the young people. These projects will be vital to showing the potential and power that a young person has to shape and change their communities and the environment for the better. From planting trees to clearing out polluted areas, we will hopefully show a range of understanding and a desire to do better for the world within the young people.

What we hope to achieve in 2021

Our first aim will be to have a core group of young people of at least 10-15 members as part of the Youth Group programme by the end of March. This will form the core group that will help spread the message and begin expanding our programs.

By the end of June, we hope to have 2-3 core groups of 10-15 members each running different programs in different areas with some connection to each other. We also hope to have begun running regular education activities and be undertaking practical projects as well as our long-term campaigns.

By the end of August, we hope to have 4-5 core groups of 10-15 members that are involved with the project, attending regular activity sessions, helping plan campaigns and projects and spreading the word to other youth members.

So what are you waiting for….GET INVOLVED!


Green Influencers Scheme

The mission of the Green Influencers Scheme is to assist young people to create deep, lasting and meaningful connections with the natural environment. Through this scheme young people will learn and build skills which will help them contribute to the local community through environmental action. The scheme was developed by The Ernest Cook Trust in 2019 as a match- funded project with #iwill. Both #iwill and The Ernest Cook Trust will provide £1.5million resulting in a total of £3million to be spent over 3 years on youth environmental action.

The Ernest Cook Trust is providing grants to registered charities and non-profit organisations across England to employ Green Mentors to help young people between the ages of 10-14 years (Green Influencers) to create environmental projects in local schools, youth groups and communities.

The Ernest Cook Trust

The Ernest Cook Trust offers children and young people, their families and communities, the chance to learn from the land through hands on outdoor learning activities.The Ernest Cook Trust is a charity limited by guarantee with the sole charitable objective of education. The Trust places education at its very heart by offering children and young people a chance to connect with nature and to take action on the environment in a meaningful and positive way. The Trust was founded by Ernest Cook, a wealthy landowner committed to ensuring his land would benefit future generations. Before his death in 1955, he placed his estates in trust. We have seen many changes to the landscape and our understanding of our impact on it, but the Trust’s work remains rooted in its founder’s love of the countryside and its potential to shape lives and learning.

The Trust awards around £2m per year in grants based on relevance and impact against organisational objectives. Grants are given to schools or charitable organisations for activities in the UK with a particular focus on areas where there are fewer opportunities to experience the outdoors.

#iwill Fund

The #iwill Fund is made possible thanks to £50million joint investment from The National Lottery Community Fund and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to support young people to access high quality social action opportunities.

The #iwill Fund brings together a group of organisations who all contribute funding to embed meaningful social action into the lives of young people.

The #iwill Fund supports the aims of the #iwill campaign - to make involvement in social action a part of life for young people, by recognising the benefit for both young people and their communities. By bringing together funders from across different sectors and by making sure that young people have a say in where the funding goes – the #iwill Fund is taking a collaborative approach.

#iwill campaign

The #iwill campaign is a collective effort involving over 900 partners from across the public, voluntary, education and business sectors with a vision to make meaningful social action part of life for 10- to 20-year olds by the year 2020, wherever they live and whatever their background. The #iwill campaign was launched in 2013 with cross-party and multi-sector support after research into how the business, education, public and voluntary sectors could support young people to engage in social action. The campaign is coordinated by Step Up To Serve, a charity registered in England & Wales (no. 1154588). HRH The Prince of Wales is Patron of Step Up To Serve and the #iwill campaign. For more information, visit and follow @iwill_campaign

The National Lottery Community Fund

The largest community funder in the UK – They award money raised by National Lottery players to communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Since June 2004, we have made over 200,000 grants and awarded over £9 billion to projects that have benefited millions of people. They are passionate about funding great ideas that matter to communities and make a difference to people’s lives. At the heart of everything they do is the belief that when people are in the lead, communities thrive. Thanks to the support of National Lottery players, their funding is open to everyone. They’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.

Summer 2021 - we have a ‘Green Champion’ at Oaklea

Find out more about what Ben will be doing as our champion of all things green here Going green with Ben

Top ingredients for a ‘greener’ menu - Ben (middle) with Woodworker Dave and Ernest Cook Trust’s Susie Grainger at an event for young people

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Contact us.

Second Floor,
East Wing,
Station House, Station Road, Kendal
Cumbria LA9 6RY

Telephone. 01539 735 025