YON workshop - Blue Influencers Conference 2024

Inspiring youth action at the Blue Influencers Conference

2 minute read

Members of our Youth Ocean Network came together to deliver presentations and workshops to show how young people can help drive change and take action in blue spaces impacted by climate change.

Last month, Irys, Islay and Muhammed from our Youth Ocean Network attended the Blue Influencers Conference alongside Katie Macfarlane, our Youth Engagement Officer.

The event, which was hosted and co-ordinated by the Ernest Cook Trust, was the first time members of our Youth Ocean Network could come together from across the UK to present and deliver workshops in person. Before now, members had only met online or through regional meetings, events and beach cleans across the UK.

Blue Influencers Conference 2024

Attendees at the Blue Influencers Conference

Credit: Ernest Cook Trust/Stuart Walker Photography

Inspired by its successful Green Influencers Scheme, the Ernest Cook Trust’s Blue Influencers Scheme is an initiative that will fund 22 Blue Mentor posts in host organisations across England. Mentors will support young people (aged 10-14) in environmental social action projects, specifically those living in coastal, river and estuary communities.

These areas are likely to be severely impacted by climate change, experiencing floods, rising sea levels and coastal erosion, with people, coastal economies and local industry facing challenges as a result. According to the Ernest Cook Trust, many deprived coastal communities do not feel welcome in blue spaces or connected to their immediate environments, despite living near the ocean.

At the conference, Irys, Islay and Muhammed delivered inspiring presentations to over 70 blue mentor delegates, before hosting fun, inclusive workshops which aimed to inspire the mentors to take away and embed ideas in their environmental youth work.

Attendees discussed the problems our blue spaces are facing regarding pollution, biodiversity loss and human health before coming together as a team to discuss potential solutions to these problems – particularly how young people can use their voice and play their part.

“This has been a great opportunity for not only Irys, Islay and Muhammed, but for adults attending the event to think about how we interact with our waterways. By breaking down barriers to attendance and participation, we hopefully helped inspire all attending on the first step of their blue mentor journey.” Katie Macfarlane, Youth Engagement Officer

In her opening speech, Irys, 16, told attendees about joining the Youth Ocean Network to learn more about the ocean and meet like-minded people who care about it and want to protect it. But it turned out to be so much more.

“The Youth Ocean Network is the chance to have a voice and a platform to use it, which is much rarer than it seems. The team at the Marine Conservation Society have taught us many things about the work they do and what we can do ourselves - but the most important thing they've done is believe in us to actually take that action, and believe that we are capable to achieve whatever we want.”

YON and Katie - Blue Influencers Conference 2024

Muhammed, Katie, Islay and Irys gathered in the Lake District for the Conference

Credit: Ernest Cook Trust/Stuart Walker Photography

Our Youth Ocean Network is a group of 13 to 25 year olds living across the UK who meet up virtually every month to help protect our ocean. We’re always welcoming new members - if you’re interested, contact [email protected]

Join our Youth Ocean Network

Youth Ocean Network