Two of the Moray Firth Partnership's strategic aims are to encourage and enable effective community participation in coastal stewardship and to raise awareness and improve understanding. The Engaging with Young People and Business proposal helps us meet these aims by facilitating work with young people and the wider business community, leading on from the very successful programmes carried out as part of the Beach Guardians (coastal litter), Dolphin Defenders, Eco-Schools and other projects over the past few years.
The following is an outline of the main work elements for completion during 2010/11.
1 Youth Involvement and Development
Working with local Rangers and other youth group organisers to provide more opportunities for young people to learn about and care for an area of the Moray Firth coast, and at the same time helping them to achieve a certificated "Wild Places" Award through the John Muir Award scheme. Under the scheme, young people have four challenges - to "discover, explore, conserve and share". They "discover" their own wild place, "explore" it in detail, carry out work to "conserve" or enhance the area, then "share" what they have learned with others. Rangers, or other professionals, will assess the quality of the work done. The aim is to help young people take responsibility for their chosen wild place, which ties in closely with the MFP's own aims for the coast.
The numerous ways by which young people could make a difference to their local coast include carrying out a beach clean, helping to maintain paths, conducting a wildlife survey or a local campaign to combat dog-fouling. As well as providing assistance to extend the scheme to include more young people and more coastal projects, we would make a small fund available to meet any incidental expenses, which would be limited to say £50 per project. Our overall target would be to help twenty young people to achieve the "wild places" certificate. A joint coastal workshop with the group "Wild Things" is under discussion, involving young people with support needs.
2 Education materials for Schools / other groups / public
The MFP receives frequent requests from schools for tailored material about the Moray Firth area to help with schools projects. We have two "Sea Chests" which contain books, videos, model creatures etc. These are useful, but limited and we require other, new material (e.g. replacing videos with DVDs). We want to update materials in the MFP schools packs 'Lets Look at the Moray Firth', originally produced in 1995, and make these available online via the MFP website's "Learning Zone". We will work with volunteers to prepare a laminated information sheet for use by schools and individuals about specific Moray Firth natural features.
3 Support Staff
We will provide additional qualified education support staff to visit coastal schools & youth groups (in liaison with rangers, John Muir Award staff, schools etc) and introduce new education materials and help young people develop ideas for volunteering opportunities, conservation work etc (Item 1). We will assist with beach cleans & surveys and enable youth groups to continue this work independently and to engage the support of their local community.
4 Communicating with young people
We will build on the Communications plan developed for the MFP in 2006, and specifically aim to identify better ways for the MFP to communicate with young people outside of school / classroom work (including exploring web blogs, podcasts, social networking sites such as Facebook, etc.) and identify what kind of events would be of interest to young people to help get them involved. Through this work, we wish to increase the number of junior members of the MF Partnership and to encourage more youth volunteers to take part in projects.
5 Business and Communities - two way opportunities
We have been looking for new ways to engage with local businesses and groups that provide more obvious benefits for them, as well as for the local area. Recent volunteering opportunities have been limited by the level of MFP staff time, but there is clear scope for developing more structured opportunities for team building events/ corporate responsibility work/personal development, which could be delivered in partnership with existing, local, activities providers. The MFP, in conjunction with other marine biodiversity group partners, is developing a Marine Biodiversity Action Plan for N E Scotland and Moray Firth areas, with wide stakeholder engagement. As part of this action plan, in liaison with Talisman and a number of other organisations and businesses, including the Institute of Leadership and management, we wish to:-
a) develop a database of potential projects, involving Marine Biodiversity and environmental issues, suitable for team building / corporate responsibility / personal development events,
b) to identify suitable providers where required, and
c) to promote the ideas to local industry and businesses.