Programme Reflections: John Harrison

John is the founder of Solidarity Farm CIC, a working farm in Northumberland that works with young people struggling with mainstream education. Using farm and nature-based activities, it provides a non-judgemental space for young people to be themselves and connect with nature.

“I’ve most enjoyed taking the time to visit some amazing environmental projects across the north with some awesome people! It is incredible the work that is taking place, often in small hidden away areas where passionate and driven groups are supporting local people to connect with nature and spend time outdoors. The project we visited in Bradford really stood out as a green space in a very urban environment which was much needed by the local community. I have also learnt a lot from my fellow participants about how they work with communities and the opportunities and challenges they face.

I’ve been able to learn some great new tools and got loads of ideas from the speakers that have come to each session. Leadership, marketing, and branding have all been covered by people who have walked the walk. Having a relatively small group makes the sessions informal and makes it easy to ask questions and get involved with practical exercises. We did some great things looking at our values and where our motivation comes from, I think this deeper work that explores the ‘why’ of our projects is so important. It is important to first understand yourself and how these fit with the needs of your community.

I am very much looking forward to using this learning at Solidarity Farm and have already got some ideas about identity and branding to ensure our offer is attractive to those in the community who may want to engage with our services.

My mentoring experience has been especially valuable as my mentor has supported me loads with his local network and contacts, while offering very important advice and support.  I am really hoping to build on the work of the Northern network and hope to keep the momentum going when we complete our last session in December. It has been great to be involved and the more we can work together and support each other the better, as we can do so much more as a community and hope to get involved in other activities as they take place.

Our last session takes place in Cumbria and although I am going to miss meeting up in person but I am sure we can do more as group and look forward to supporting others who join the network.”

Green Leadership Programme

The Green Leadership Programme is supported by Natural England and takes place over 5 months between July – November 2023. Participants take part in practical workshop sessions at different Green Community Hubs across the North and are matched with a Groundwork mentor providing ongoing support through the programme. Find out more below

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