All the tools youth workers need to help young climate activists save the world

Meet Naomi Dixon, YouthLink Scotland's new COP26 Development Officer Project Coordinator, and the architect of a new online platform designed to help youth workers galvanise Scotland's burgeoning army of young climate activists. 

Hi, I’m Naomi, and I’ve recently joined YouthLink Scotland as the new COP26 Development Officer Project Coordinator. My job along with our partners Young Scot and Keep Scotland Beautiful is to create a legacy that transforms youth work and climate action led by young people long after COP26 has been and gone. 

Growing up in rural Aberdeenshire, I’ve always loved green spaces and spent many of my summers being eaten alive by midges, walking and camping in the Highlands! My passion for the environment and increasing sense of urgency to protect it, along with my background in youth social action has exposed me to the critical role youth workers play in supporting young climate activists. 

This is why the Youth Work Champions online platform has been launched. Access to toolkits, case studies, events and opportunities will upskill and equip practitioners to support young people across Scotland to tackle the climate emergency. The platform already hosts over 100 useful resources and pieces of creative content, from a free video streaming network dedicated to climate-related films, to podcast suggestions, and a handbook of activities exploring climate justice 

I’ll be adding content to the Youth Work Champion online platform on an ongoing basis, and will be guided by the needs of you as Youth Workers and practitioners. So, if you have a story of positive youth led climate action in your own community, if there are specific gaps in learning or skills you’d like to develop, a blog you’d like to write, or if you have any other suggestions as to how to make this online platform work best for you, then I’d love you to get in touch. 

As well as developing this online platform, I’ll be supporting the recruitment of a network of over 300 COP26 Local Champions aged 11 – 26 based across each local authority in Scotland. The COP26 Local Champions will inspire and encourage other young people in their own communities to get involved in climate change policy, decision making and activism. But their social action wouldn’t be possible without the support and investment in a climate literate youth work sector. 

After just over a month into my new role I've had the time to reflect on the unique context youth workers have access to. They are often working in spaces with young people who might feel excluded from the climate emergency conversations or who have more pressing priorities. These will often be young people who are disengaged from formal education settings, or from communities that are rarely heard yet most at risk from the impacts of the climate emergency. Upskilling youth workers to become more climate literate is so important for us to consider within this context, in order to reach those young people and to build a greener, more equitable future. 

So, when COP26 arrives in Glasgow later this year, with this comes not only the opportunity, but the responsibility to tap into further investment of the youth work sector moving forward. While COP26 may end on 12th November, my hope is that this online platform and network of Youth Work and COP26 Local Champions will create a ripple effect of change across Scotland and a lasting legacy we can all be proud of. 

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