Twelve young people from urban backgrounds are to become the latest group to participate in an innovative youth project being run on some of Scotland’s best known rural estates.
The teenagers, aged between 14 and 16, will spend this week enjoying wild camping on Douglas & Angus Estates in South Lanarkshire as part of a project called Imbewu Scotland where they will gain an appreciation of the jobs and people that make rural estates and our countryside tick.
Imbewu Scotland is organised by registered charity Wilderness Foundation UK, funded by Scottish Natural Heritage and supported by landowners’ organisation, Scottish Land & Estates.
The project is designed to benefit around 50 young people annually from schools, some of which lie in the lowest 15% of the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD), and introduce them to Scotland’s inspiring outdoors and provide a pathway to further education, work experience and apprenticeships in the rural economy that desperately needs new blood.
This week’s participants will accompany estate staff to learn about the estate and its people before spending three days together as a group on a trail through the remote countryside of the Douglas Estate. This nature immersion gives them a deeper understanding of the wildest and most beautiful parts of Scotland, building connections to nature and building environmental sustainability.
Later in the week, they’ll be taught new skills that are vital in running the business and maintaining the landscape of the estate by the people who work the land day in and day out and who are hugely passionate about their vocations. The young people will also be involved in a conservation volunteering day before the week culminates with them being asked to present their recollections of the week to senior members of the estate team, reflecting on their experience and what they have learnt.
The project, which feeds into the Curriculum for Excellence in Scotland, will also see participants receive a John Muir Discovery Award and Leave No Trace awareness accreditation. The young people will also continue to be mentored by the project once the week has concluded, supporting them with rural skills employment pathways and work and Further Education support.
Ian Fleming, estate manager at Douglas & Angus Estates, said: “Imbewu Scotland is a wonderful project that can make a real difference to young people who do not often get the opportunity to experience the wonders that rural Scotland has to offer.
“It will be a tough week ahead but we have seen the great impact it has had on the young people who have visited other estates and we are sure their time here will be similarly positive for their future prospects.”
Jo Roberts, CEO of Wilderness Foundation UK, said: “Imbewu Scotland is an intergenerational project which shares the knowledge and wisdom of stalkers, ghillies and other experienced countrymen and women who live and work on rural estates with young people from urban backgrounds. Each experiential learning week brings young people closer to the spectacle of wild nature than they have ever been before, reconnecting them with their rural heritage and growing an awareness and love of nature and the outdoors.”
Douglas McAdam, chief executive of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “Imbewu Scotland has been an outstanding success since its inception last year and we are committed to ensuring it continues to grow with every passing year. Reconnecting people with the land in Scotland is a key objective for our organisation and its membership and fits within our Learning Ladder approach focused on new entrants and skills development in the rural sector.
“Landowners have been very keen to participate and play their part in ensuring that young people, from all across urban Scotland, are given the opportunity and assistance they need to experience the best of rural Scotland and its opportunities. It is a partnership that we hope can produce life changing moments for those involved whilst also identifying and encouraging leadership potential from our country’s young people and hopefully encouraging them to consider the bright future career path that rural Scotland can provide.”