Young people are the thread stitching together the social and economic vibrancy of rural areas. Despite the rich enthusiasm young people bring, many rural communities now find themselves looking at strategies to repopulate and entice youth to stay.
And through our research, we’ve come to realise that by investing in young people, you can grow your community.
Funded as a cooperation project by five LEADER Local Action Groups (LAGs); Angus, Lanarkshire, Outer Hebrides, Rural Perth and Kinross and the Scottish Borders, under the LEADER Programme 2014-2020: The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas, the Rural Youth Project is an international grassroots movement for positive change to empower young people (18 to 28 years of age) to develop their leadership, enterprise & activism skills, to play an integral part in making rural places attractive and viable for young people to build their lives and their futures there.
Ultimately, it’s about building stronger, youth inclusive communities based on intergenerational links, creating a culture of listening and involving young people and building youth skills. It’s about understanding the power of ‘cool businesses’ and the role they play in rural places in attracting and developing talent and improved local economies.
But HOW do you invest in young people? The Rural Youth Project has a multipronged approach through face-to-face events such as the Big Ideas Workshops and Ideas Festivals; knowledge exchange through story seeking and telling highlighting positive case studies and, more recently, through informative online webinars due to Covid-19.
The Rural Youth Project’s cornerstone event is a yearly Ideas Festival. The 2019 Ideas Festival held in Lanarkshire brought together sixty young people for the three-day residential festival which combined inspirational speakers with practical workshops to empower young people by developing their leadership, communication, enterprise and activism skills to help them play their part in making rural places more viable for young people to build their lives and their futures.
Young people looking to build their skills and join a community of like-minded rural youth can get involved by attending our online and face-to-face events with details found at www.ruralyouthproject.com. Alternatively, young people can share their story of what it is like living in the countryside by becoming a Rural Youth Project Vlogger.