Ullapool Sea Savers

The Ullapool Sea Savers is a marine conservation charity set up by kids for kids. Background co-ordination is done by Janis Patterson, an experienced childminder and nature lover, but the ideas, energy, drive and passion for which the Sea Savers have become known comes direct from young people.

The project was initially inspired by the work of the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Living Seas Project which aims to promote partnership between conservation work and recreation and sustainable healthy seas.

Over the past 2 years Ullapool Sea Savers has provided opportunities for local young people (currently 8, ranging in age from 11 – 15 years) to come together to learn about marine life and protection.

The group has celebrated a number of achievements, including participating in a campaign to amend legislation around kelp dredging, championing various marine species in partnership with the MSP species champions scheme (most recently participating in Kate Forbes becoming otter champion) instigating the layby litter pick scheme, finalists for Nature of Scotland Award 2019, and much, much more.

Lockdown has been difficult and has forced the group to rethink how to deliver group work whilst sticking to social distancing rules.

The group has co-ordinated food deliveries of prawns and scallops – encouraging local people to try new recipes whilst supporting the local fishing industry.

Members have also received activity packs containing Sea Savers t-shirt, resource books and other goodies to keep them busy during lockdown.

Young people have produced short films and interviews which have been shared on their social media groups.

As lockdown eases there are a number of learning projects the young people can get involved with straight away.

The Big Seaweed Search, which the Sea Savers have already been getting involved with, allows individuals or families to work together to contribute to citizen science and learn about the fascinating world of seaweed.

Many group members are all also signed up to the iNaturalist app, which allows children to explore and understand the wildlife on their own doorsteps and learn more about them.

Group work is an important aspect of the Ullapool Sea Savers usual programme and when guidelines allow, the young people will begin to meet together again. They want to get busy cleaning beaches and resuming their new initiative ‘lay by litter picks’. With the correct policies in place to ensure people are kept safe, Ullapool Sea Savers outdoor learning programmes could increase young people’s learning outcomes and enhance formal school learning.

There are a few potential opportunities for Ullapool Sea Savers coming out of lockdown. They have recognised the opportunity to promote learning programmes with other youth groups across the region and how these could be shared using digital technology. We would love to help enable that to happen and to help more young people access similar learning opportunities.

For more information about Ullapool Sea Savers contact Janis through their social media accounts.

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/UllapoolSeaSavers/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/SaversSea

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/ullapoolseasavers/

Website – https://ullapoolseasavers.com/

#Its time to say thanks

June 1ST – 7TH marks volunteers week. This years theme was going to be ‘Lets Celebrate’. But because we have all found ourselves in the midst of an emergency global pandemic, the theme has been changed.

I enjoy celebrating and have been known to really enjoy a good party. But now doesn’t seem the best time to celebrate. As a mum of 3 children who have had birthdays during lockdown I can definitely say it has been difficult to successfully organise 2020 celebrations.

No gatherings or parties celebrating volunteers will be allowed in 2020 and we will need to mark volunteers week by promoting staying safe and maintaining social distancing rules.

However, this year’s new theme is one I can get behind, and I hope I can persuade others to get fully behind it too. ‘Its Time to say thanks’ is a great theme for the voluntary youth sector in Highland and I hope together we will be able to raise awareness of our work during volunteers week. It is time to recognise the value of volunteering and of community organisations. To recognise the difference this work makes in our Highland communities and to say a big thank you.

Over the last seven years I have been privileged to lead Youth Highland and the voluntary youth sector through some of the toughest times it has ever experienced. A major part of my job is spent supporting voluntary Youth club management committees to seek 100% of their running costs to ensure the survival of community based youth work across the Highlands.

Youth Highland currently supports more than 140 organisations from across the region through the Voluntary Youth Network.

Our membership includes about 50 traditional youth clubs, playschemes and community based groups. These groups work with local volunteers – mums and dads, local community members, young adults, unemployed people.

Volunteers tell us that through helping to run youth clubs they gain new skills and qualifications, feel less isolated, make new friends and build up confidence.

Youth Highland also works closely with specialist organisations who provide support for young people. We have encouraged organisations to use a collaborative approach which supports early intervention and prevention. Organisations active in the Voluntary Youth Network include bereavement and mental health services, disabled organisations, young carers and care experience groups, criminal justice and addiction services.

By using a youth work approach and promoting volunteering, we can support young people facing specific challenges to participate in group work and recognise their lived experiences to positively help other young people. If you would like to know more about the work of Youth Highland and our network of third sector and voluntary youth organisations please sign up to receive our regular newsdrop by contacting jacquie.steel@youthhihgland.org.uk, follow us on Facebook or Twitter or visit our website at www.youthhighland.org.uk