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Gloucestershire Business News

Gloucestershire charity to invest £5m in outdoor learning

An educational charity has unveiled plans to spend £5m a year on helping children and young people enjoy the benefits of the outdoors.

The Ernest Cook Trust, which is based in Fairford, champions access to outdoor learning for young people, particularly those living in deprived areas.

In 2022/23, it funded programmes to the value of £3m. Now the charity wants to go a step further and ramp up its annual charitable spend to over £5m by 2029.

The Ernest Cook Trust uses its 9,000 hectares of rural landholdings as an income stream to fund its charitable work, as sites to host outdoor learning opportunities and as centres for sustainable land management.

The trust also partners with other charities and organisations to fund its innovative outdoor learning programmes.

The Ernest Cook Trust has just released its Annual Report for 2022/23, unveiling its new three-pronged approach to outdoor learning:

• Opening Outdoors - aims to tackle barriers to outdoors access for young people

• Outdoor Educators - aims to put nature connection at the heart of education

• Skills for Nature - provides opportunities for young people to make positive environmental change

Ed Ikin, chief executive of The Ernest Cook Trust, said: "At The Ernest Cook Trust, we've developed real expertise and have a growing body of evidence to prove that our principles of outdoor learning genuinely improve the lives of young people.

"We want to see national recognition that being in nature is a fundamental good for everybody, that everyone deserves the chance to spend time in nature."

Last year (2022/23), more than 42,000 young people benefited from the trust's outdoor learning activities, an increase of 20% on the previous year. Through the trust's schools programme, more than 2,500 pupils were supported, and over 900 grants, totalling £2m, were distributed.

More than 1,000 pupils were given access to a residential through the trust's The OWL Collaboration, while across its three-year Green Influencers Scheme, 7,050 young people devised and ran youth social action projects to improve the environment in their area.

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