28 Oct 2021

MSP quizzed by young advocates for wild places

Leader of Scotland’s Labour Party - and our new champion for upland birchwoods - joins and listens to Glasgow John Muir Award participants. 

Anas Sarwar MSP meets Venture Scotland award participants and Toby in Pollock Park

MSP and Leader of the Scottish Labour Party Anas Sarwar (pictured centre above) joined Trust staff within his Glasgow constituency to meet a John Muir Award Provider and participants at Pollok Park in mid October.

He was invited to hear about work of the Trust, with particular focus on our people and community engagement and discover how connecting with and caring for wild places benefits people and planet.

Anas met John Muir Award participants working with Venture Scotland - a charity promoting young people’s social and personal development through immersion in the outdoors - and heard about their experiences of enjoying wild nature close to home during the pandemic.

The young people, gaining support because of challenges they face in life, shared their personal stories. Award participant Ali said: “Doing this makes me feel happy. It is great to be away from the stresses that city life can bring. Your mind is able to focus on different sights and sounds. This calms me. It provides space to think. Life seems a lot simpler in nature and the simple things seem the most important things, such as inhaling fresh air...” 

Anas - who is also our Nature Champion for Upland Birchwoods* - agreed, citing his personal experiences during the pandemic of enjoying connecting with nature in Glasgow’s wilder spots, adding:

“We know about the links between the wild places and wellbeing. How we unlock this potential should only be limited to the power of people’s imagination. Schemes like the John Muir Award are important to encouraging people from all backgrounds to connect with nature in ways that are relevant to them.” 

As part of their John Muir Award, the group was particularly keen to ask Anas about how Glasgow’s COP26 can encourage more people from all backgrounds to enjoy and care for our wild places, contributing to natural solutions vital in tackling our climate crisis.

“It is important that COP is backed up with actions – not just rhetoric, but reality,” continued Anas “We can’t afford to leave anyone behind as we continue to shift towards a greener futures across all areas of life: jobs, health, transport and education.” 

David Brackenridge, Venture Scotland CEO said: “The John Muir Award is a fantastic structure to frame outdoor experiences and connect with nature. It enables participants and staff to move at their own pace - responding to places and issues that relevant to them.

"For this group, wellbeing and climate action was incredibly important - for others it might be life skills, work experience or a nationally recognised certificate for personal records of achievement. We’ve been using the John Muir Award since it was piloted in 1995, so encouraging young people from all walks of life to value and care for Scotland’s wild places feels like part of our DNA!”

Thank you to Anas for joining and listening to young people passionate about the benefits of wild places, and to John Muir Award Provider Venture Scotland.

  • Find out more about our campaign to celebrate the invaluable connection between wild places and people’s health at Wild and Well.
  • Find out how you can support the Trust’s engagement work creating opportunities for an average of 40,000 people a year to enjoy and care for wild places across the UK visit our Wild Action Fund.

*Nature Champion for Upland Birchwoods

The Trust is also delighted to work with Anas as our new champion for upland birchwoods in Scotland. As a pioneering habitat that grows quickly, upland birchwoods replenish lost nutrients and enable the right conditions for other species to return. This important habitat can help biodiversity recover in Scotland.

Hand with flowers - David Lintern

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