Imbewu Scotland is an intergenerational 7-day programme for young people aged 13 -17 years, some of whom are living in urban areas and experiencing disadvantage or poverty of opportunity. Young people in areas of high youth unemployment, who display an interest in the environment and/or working in rural employment or the environmental field, are targeted to take part.
The project provides nature-based experiences that focus on personal development and offer leadership and skills-based learning opportunities within wild, rural areas.
At the heart of the programme there is a three-day wilderness journey and wild camping on rural estates, led by wilderness guides and personal development facilitators. During the journey, participants explore the area, camp in remote locations and use the time to learn about the landscape and its wildlife and flora, alongside embedding a love for spending time in nature.
Throughout the rest of the week the participants spend time on the rural estates, meeting and working alongside staff, volunteering and learning about rural heritage, conservation practice, estate management and sustainable land management. In the course of the programme, participants earn the John Muir Award and Leave No Trace accreditation.
Alongside the formal accreditation the young people also develop numerous skills including leadership, communication, management of groups, presentation, working as part of a diverse team, resilience, growth in their confidence along with a more in depth understanding of the rural employment sector.
Recently we completed a programme on the Glenlivet Estate, which is managed by Crown Estate Scotland, with 9 young people who came from Cumbernauld, Croy, Perth, Crieff, Stirling and Pitlochry.
The young people over the course of the week took part in a range of activities, which started with a days conservation volunteering working alongside Graham one of the estates forest rangers. The day started with Graham sharing how he became a ranger and a little about his passion for trees before we headed out to replant some trees in an area which will eventually become natural woodland.
Over the next couple of days the young people took part in a wilderness journey which follows part of the smugglers way on the estate, during their time on the journey the group had the opportunity to experience wild camping, learn about some of the history of the estate and take on different roles such as navigator, environmentalist and campsite manager all contributing to developing the groups employability skills.
Towards the end of the week the group spent some time finding out more about the history of the area and meeting different people who work locally to give them a more in depth understanding about both rural living along with the many different rural jobs available. The highlight for many of the group was the visit to Balcorach Farm, which is a wild farm on the estate. Here the group learnt about wild farming, met a whole host of animals and had the opportunity to hand feed reindeer!
The week results in the young people delivering a presentation to the estate staff sharing all they have learnt. This is often the part of the week the group dread the most, the thought of standing up in front of people and present can be terrifying, however through the design of the week where the young people are supported each day to take on leadership roles by the time the presentation happens they surpass expectation and deliver a presentation that captures what they have learnt, how they have grown as individuals and their highlights from the experience.
This is the fifth programme that has taken place on the estate and as always we are grateful to the support of the estate and all the staff who work there, without whom the programme wouldn’t happen.
“I learnt about conservation volunteering and the skills actually needed to go into a career in the rural sector”
“I built my confidence and skills in talking to different people, I am normally really shy but on Imbewu we were like a family and I felt really supported. I learnt about different jobs and I loved the visit to the wild farm especially getting to feed the reindeer”
“I loved every minute of it and found all the activities we did incredibly interesting. It was great having such positive and supportive people around you. I took so much away with me including lots of new skills, also beautiful memories that will stay with me forever”
“It was a pleasure to welcome these inspiring young people to Glenlivet, and to be able to help them experience some of the wonderful locations we are fortunate enough to look after. Crown Estate Scotland is committed to ensuring that the areas we manage benefit the wider community. By working with organisations like Imbewu Scotland, we can ensure that young people from different areas and backgrounds have opportunities to experience these benefits for themselves.”
of participants reported an improvement in their self-esteem from the start to the end of the programme
of participants reported improvement in overall mood from start to the end of their project experience
of participants reported the most frequently cited skills gained were practical skills
of participants also reported development in communication and teamwork skills, and also wildlife protection skills
The findings indicate Imbewu Scotland is likely to be a successful tool for improving the health and wellbeing of young people, and for enabling them to develop skills and opportunities for contact with nature; all of which help to reduce youth unemployment and costs to society due to mental ill health and anti-social behavior.
Imbewu Dates 2019
Each Imbewu programme has 10 places available for young people in Scotland, aged 14 – 17 years. Locations for Imbewu 2019 are still being confirmed.