Young farmer Frances is the voice of youth

Fran Johnson, Young Northumberland

Fran Johnson, Young Northumberland

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PROBLEMS faced by young rural residents will be brought to the fore by a young Cambo woman.

Frances Johnson, who grew up on a farm on the Wallington estate, has been recruited to be ‘the voice’ of young people living in the Northumberland uplands to make sure their views on key issues are heard.

She will work as part of an initiative between Changemakers and Young Northumberland, which was set up by the Northumberland Uplands Leader Local Action Group to help break down the barriers to employment.

There will be a hub and mentoring programmes to tackle some of the difficulties of living in the countryside, such as a lack of local work opportunities and poor transport links to urban centres, which often leaves school and college leavers at a disadvantage when trying to find a job or social activities.

Ms Johnson comes to the role after studying Countryside and Environmental Management at Harper Adams University College. She also completed a placement year with The National Trust, working on a carbon footprint project.

She is Chairman of Cambo Young Farmers, where she has been a members for many years, and regularly takes part in competitions.

She said: “I think it is vital that young people in a rural area have a voice and express their views and opinions on various matters.

“As a young person myself, I think I can bring an understanding to the project as I am aware of rural issues and the pressures facing young people today.

“In a rural context, young people are largely under-represented in decision-making and ultimately young people are the future of the countryside so why not get them involved at an early stage? I am passionate about the countryside and am looking forward to hopefully getting young people involved with helping to shape the future, protecting and enhancing rural areas for new generations.”

Ms Johnson is employed by Changemakers and will complete a leadership course over three months, including a residential in Chester. She will then spend ten days over six months on a project defined by Young Northumberland.

She said: “I am really looking forward to working with Changemakers and Young Northumberland, developing skills and meeting new people, and also working for Northumberland National Park, which is such a reputable environmental organisation.

“I am hoping this project will develop my skills, especially in terms of project planning, and will help me with my future career in the environmental sector.”

Youth Engagement Officer with Young Northumberland Jen Hewitson said: “Having grown up in the Northumberland uplands myself I know how important it is for young people to be able to express their views in a safe and neutral environment.

“Working with Fran and the Changemakers’ project is a great opportunity for Young Northumberland to engage young people on the issues that matter to them the most and actually do something about it.”

Any young people interested in getting involved with the initiative should contact Ms Johnson by email to youngnorthumberlandchangemaker@gmail.com