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“Raleigh was the biggest break I’d ever been given”: Ross’s Raleigh story

After finding himself homeless, Ross joined a Raleigh Expedition in 2015. 6 years on, he returned to join Re:Green through the Access Fund.

After finding himself homeless, Ross joined a Raleigh Expedition to Costa Rica in 2015 through the Youth Partnership Programme, a support scheme for disadvantaged young people. 6 years on, Ross returned to Raleigh International to join Re:Green in Scotland, something he could not have done without the Re:Green Access Fund.

Before I joined Re:Green, Covid was still quite rife and I was searching for a project or something educational to try see more of nature. I’d spent a year and a half within the same four walls due to the pandemic, and I wanted to do something that would make a difference and contribute to a greater cause.

When I saw Re:Green I applied through the Re:Green Access Fund, so that a really big help to enable me to do this. But Re:Green was not my first Raleigh experience.

6 years ago I went on a Raleigh Expedition to Costa Rica through their youth partnerships programme. Before this I was homeless and had been the victim of a crime.

I was encouraged to apply for Raleigh’s youth partnerships programme as it enabled young people who were homeless, unemployed, or from low-income households to take part. At the time I was on job seekers allowance and had about eight pounds to my name. So this was an opportunity that I had to take.

My Expedition to Costa Rica turned out to be the biggest break I’d ever been given. And I really needed it. It gave me a lot of confidence and I still talk about it now, even though it’s been six years since I did it. Coming back to Raleigh International to do Re:Green has brought back all the positive memories of it.

The fact that the Re:Green programme has begun in Scotland is such an eye opener for me.

I was really surprised at the breadth of work we did at Kilchoan, particularly the marine conservation, such as measuring oysters. I didn’t expect that! It blew my mind and I really enjoyed it. Seeing all the different kind of creatures that live in such balance and harmony with each other. Nature is just awesome.

We also did a lot of the educational curriculum on Re:Green, which focused on a range of different subjects but is very ecologically centred. We would discuss the issues that face the world and what we need to do to offset the drastic effects of climate change.

A lot of people seem to think that nature and humanity are separate, but they are very interlinked. They are very in balance with each other, and we need to get back to that because that’s how people become invested in saving the natural world, which is deteriorating at such a fast rate.

The Re:Green Access Fund was a big part of my decision to apply for Re:Green because of my financial background.

I don’t come from a particularly wealthy family. I live alone, I’m on disability benefit, so I can’t work for now. Being able to apply for financial support was a big motivator to do Re:Green so I could do something valuable safely and properly.

I think it’s such a valuable part of Re:Green to have diversity not just in nature, but in people. A lot of people are living hand to mouth in Scotland. There’s a lot of social inequality as well as economic. In the rural areas, there’s many young people who don’t know what to do when they leave school that would benefit from joining Re:Green. It’s good to get a mix of backgrounds and perspectives. It strengthens the team and also gets more young people involved in climate action.

The main thing that I‘ve learned about myself on Re:Green is that is that if I really put my mind to it and put the effort in, there’s nothing that can’t be achieved.

I’ve learnt it’s about being able to recognise your strengths and work on them, and work on your weaknesses too. I’m really invested in this. And even when things are tough for me, either physically or mentally, if I talk to people and open up, I’ve found it a lot easier to work through those problems, rather than in the past when I’ve run away from them. So confronting fear has been a big one in terms of developing my skills.

After Re:Green I want to go back into education, to go to university, and hopefully study something to do with conservation.

I left school at 15 with no grades to my name, so I really want to go to college first and get basic English and Maths, and then focus on something to do with environmental studies or geo science.

The highlight of my Re:Green experience would be witnessing nature in its most raw form.

Just seeing the landscape and how much can change over 100 years from the impact of humans but, also, how much good we can do if we have the right information. The three words that I would use to describe Re:Green are: awesome, challenge and brilliant.

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