achieving change through enterprising solutions

Shannon comes full-circle with One Planet Pioneers

When 18-year-old Shannon Grayston relocated to Middlesbrough from North Yorkshire two years ago she had no qualifications and wasn’t sure which path to take. However, she is now engaging local young people in environmental activities after completing her Level One in peer mentoring through One Planet Pioneers, delivered by Actes.

Shannon has come full circle since completing the Peer Mentoring Level 1 award last January and is now giving her time three days a week on the other side of the project as a Volunteer Peer Mentor. At the same time, she is training to gain her NVQ Level 2 qualification in Youth Work which will put her in a strong position to secure a role within the sector in future.

Shannon said:  “I signed up to do the One Planet Pioneers Peer Mentoring course with Actes after identifying youth work as an area of interest as I knew it would provide me with good experience of working with young people. When asked if I’d like to volunteer on the project to gain some experience while Actes put me through my youth work qualification, I thought it was a good opportunity to boost my CV and knowledge.”

As a Volunteer Peer Mentor, Shannon is involved with engaging young people to get them interested in the environment and to encourage them to enrol on the next peer mentoring course. Since being a volunteer, she has helped to shape the delivery and structure of the course based on her first hand insight. As well as this, she is also helping to deliver practical activities to raise young people’s awareness of the local environment.

Shannon first became involved with Actes after receiving information through the post about the organisation’s New Directions Youth Employment Initiative in early 2017. After signing up to the programme and expressing an interest in pursuing a career in youth work, she was signposted to relevant opportunities by her youth advocate. She completed Defining Futures, a Level 2 employability course, before being introduced to the One Planet Pioneers where she completed her four-month peer mentoring course which involved gaining and understanding of the role of a peer mentor and the benefits it can bring to people and communities. While working towards the qualification, Shannon has also secured Functional Skills in maths and English to boost her skillset.

She added: “I’m enjoying getting involved with One Planet Pioneers and I’m feeling much more positive about the future. I had a lot of support when I first came to Middlesbrough and this is my opportunity to give something back.”

The five-year One Planet Pioneers project is one of 31 UK-wide initiatives that form the Our Bright Future programme funded by the Big Lottery Fund. One Planet Pioneers aims to develop the skills of young people through environmental projects and Actes delivers the project in partnership with Middlesbrough Environmental City, Tees Valley Wildlife Trust, Teesside University and a range of local organisations.