Woodland skills training programme at Bluebell Woods wins award

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10 MARCH 2014NEWS RELEASE No: 16196

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Forestry Commission Scotland’s woodland-based skills training programme run by Phoenix Futures, helping young people with addiction issues move to the next stage of their recovery, has won an award for work carried out at Bluebell Woods in Johnstone.

The programme called ‘Recovery through Nature’ was developed for 16-24 years to help their recovery and provide employability skills training opportunities for young unemployed people. 

The Commission and Phoenix Futures picked up an award for the Education and Employability category at Phoenix Futures Award ceremony, competing with hundreds of projects happening across the UK. 

Helen Stewart, work supervisor at Forestry Commission Scotland, said: “The groups completed a number of key forestry tasks that included clearing paths, scrub cutting and high pruning to open up sight-lines for four days a week over a three week period at Bluebell Woods in Johnstone.

“The idea of the programme is to offer participants new skills by carrying out real tasks that are helpful to nearby communities and our forester and ranger teams.  Participants also have the chance to complete a number of assessments to gain certificates that contribute towards the John Muir Award and an Open College Network qualification.

“They’re also given help with their CVs, interview skills, signposted to other courses for further training and receive advice on jobs to apply for within forestry and landscaping.  

“We’re absolutely delighted to have won the Education and Employability Award for the project.  We measure success by the new avenues which the young people take within the first six months of completing the course.  The participants at Bluebell Woods have done exceptionally well in their road to recovery with many being offered further volunteering and training opportunities.”

John Deeney, Service Navigator, from Phoenix Futures commented: “We ran eight programmes throughout 2012 and 2013.  It’s a great project that Forestry Commission Scotland is very committed to.  Their team provide forestry training and employability support.

“Each group has benefitted from the programme and it’s fantastic to see the progress that individuals make.  Many start out with low self-esteem, little structure and motivation in their lives and by the end of the programme, it’s great to see how they’ve gained in confidence and are ready to take the next step. 

“Receiving the award is credit to the hard work of the partnership between the Commission and Phoenix Futures, and more importantly the success that participants have made in their own personal development.”

Local resident, Linda Gillespie commented on the work carried out: “A big thanks to staff and young people on the project.  They’ve done a great job tidying Bluebell Woods near Johnstone Castle and Elderslie.  It has made a real difference.  I enjoy many walks through the woods with my dog Skye and the young people were always very hard working, friendly and courteous.”

The skills programme was first established as a pilot in 2011 to tackle unemployment among 16-24 year olds.  The project has been extended to 2015 and by then it will have created training opportunities for around 650 young people.

The training is part of the Scottish Government’s national drive to tackle youth unemployment and is being delivered in the Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN) area. 

Training is currently offered by a number of training providers from social enterprise and third sector organisations, running projects across Glasgow, North Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, North and South Ayrshire and Fife.

Notes to Editors

1.    Forestry Commission Scotland is part of the Scottish Government's Environment & Forestry Directorate.

2.    The Skills Programme is delivered via a framework contract.  Skills providers receive funding from Forestry Commission Scotland and are required to match the funding to deliver the programme.  Skills providers include:

·      Phoenix Futures

·      Living Solutions

·      Barnardos

·      Action for Children

·      Scottish Waterways Trust

·      East Ayrshire Woodlands

·      The Wise Group

3.    Skills providers are responsible for recruitment, supplying suitable materials and tools for young people to wear and work with and carrying out the skills training while being supported by FCS’s Skills Programme Team.

4.    The CSGN stretches from Ayrshire, Inverclyde and Dunbartonshire in the west to Fife and the Lothians in the east.

5.    For news, events and recreation information log on to: www.facebook.com/enjoyscotlandsforests or https://twitter.com/FCScotlandNews

6.    The FCS agobair mar bhuidheann-stiùiridhcoilltearachdRiaghaltasna h-Alba agus a’ riaghladhnan 660,000 heactaireanann an OighreachdnaCoilleNàiseanta, a’ dìonadh, a’ cumailsmachd air agus a’ leudachadhnancoillteangusbuannachdan a thoirtdhacoimhearsnachdan, an eaconamaidhagus, agobair an aghaidhatharrachadhgnàth-shìde. www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland

7.    Media enquiries to Steve Williams, Forestry Commission Scotland press office 0131 314 6508. 

e-mail: steve.williams@forestry.gsi.gov.uk