Rural Youth Project inspires European forum

Brussels event with Rural Youth Project logo showing on screen
Norette Ferns

Two young people who took part in the 2019 Rural Youth Project Ideas Festival in Lanarkshire were inspired by the event to host a Rural Youth Leadership Forum in Brussels.

Having met at the Rural Youth Project's festival, Russ Carrington and Ffion Storer Jones coordinated an event in Brussels on 29 January to provide a platform for individuals and organisations to discuss rural youth leadership across Europe. 

The event took place at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and was hosted by Tom Jones, then a UK member of the EESC. Representatives from organisations, including youth parliaments, the organic movement, smart villages, protected areas and more presented successful initiatives and activities from their fields. 

Russ and Ffion have both been active in the young farmers movement in their respective areas of Herefordshire and Montgomeryshire. Russ is also a former chairman of Rural Youth Europe which works across 20 countries to develop the skills of young people in the countryside, and Ffion currently works for a youth organisation in Brussels. 

Mr Carrington said:

"Within our existing networks, Ffion and I could really see the benefit of bringing together conversations across the whole food and farming landscape, including perspectives from environmental and conservation organisations, and of course organisations with a policy focus."

Ms Storer Jones said:

"It was great to have a diverse range of organisations and European regions represented at the forum, with everyone agreeing that rural youth play important roles in securing a bright future for rural areas. In a momentous week historically, it was heartening to see such enthusiasm for continued collaboration & I'm hopeful that young people in rural Wales and across the UK can remain active within these networks."

Future events are planned to see how the forum might develop further. 

Director and co-founder of the Rural Youth Project, Jane Craigie, said that she is delighted that the Rural Youth Project was a catalyst to this invaluable forum, to spur on young people to develop their leadership skills and to articulate the change needed in rural and isolated places.

"Young people have the ideas and energy to create real and lasting change in rural communities. The Rural Youth Project has proven to be the spark in inspiring young people, like Ffion and Russ, into action to play their part in making rural communities an attractive and viable place for young people to build their lives and their future."

Big Ideas Workshops 

The Rural Youth Project will be hosting a series of three-day residential Big Ideas Workshops across Scotland with an aim to help young people kick start a business, community or social enterprise idea. Young people can register their interest to attend the event here.

The Rural Youth Project is funded as a cooperation project by five LEADER Local Action Groups (LAGs); Angus, Lanarkshire, Outer Hebrides, Rural Perth and Kinross and the Scottish Borders, who are supporting the project in the next phase of a longer-term programme to reach out to all areas of Scotland and enable all young people to participate and become the next generation of rural leaders.

For more information about the Rural Youth Project:

The Rural Youth Project is supported by the LEADER Programme 2014-2020: The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas.