Project information

Youth Options Outdoor Learning Centre

Accessing the natural environment is well known to have a positive effect on mental health and wellbeing. The development of the Outdoor Learning Centre will provide a range of projects engaging vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people with nature.

6-9 months

Charity information: Youth Options

Youth Options logo
  • Need


    We are living in an era where the amount of time children and young people spend playing in parks, woods and fields has shrunk dramatically due to lack of green spaces, digital technology and parents’ fears. More than one in nine children in England have not set foot in a park, forest, beach or any other natural environment for at least 12 months. As time spent outside is decreasing, increasing numbers of children and young people are experiencing mental health issues.


    The Outdoor Learning Centre will provide dedicated space for children and young people to be outside, engage with nature, & participate in outdoor learning. Activities will support them to learn about the natural world through play, older young people to learn new skills & families to learn and play together. Participants will be encouraged to engage with nature on a range of levels supporting them to increase time outside, improve levels of mental health and wellbeing, and engage with learning.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To redevelop the site into a welcoming Outdoor Learning Centre


    » Engage relevant professionals to plan and redevelop the site
    » Clear the site and develop different types of outdoor learning spaces
    » Purchase and install a modular classroom

    What success will look like

    The Outdoor Learning Centre will open and be a well used natural environment in an urban area.

  • Impact


    In the long term the Outdoor Learning Centre will enable children and young people to engage with nature to achieve the following outcomes:
    • Have a more positive sense of wellbeing
    • Be better able to cope with life events that affect them
    • Have improved sense of wellbeing
    • Engage with nature as a means of promoting wellbeing
    The impact will be demonstrated through our evaluation of different programmes, our ability to attract funding and how well the centre is used.


    The main risk is not being able to secure the funding needed to fully redevelop the site. We have dealt with the risk in several ways. We have identified funding opportunities to apply to for the remaining sum. We also have a second option where we develop the site in stages, but ensure it can be used safely whilst each stage is being developed.


    We will provide regular updates as newsletters as redevelopment progresses, and we will invite donors to visit the Outdoor Learning Centre once it is open.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £150,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £20,000 Plan Engaging relevant professionals to plan redevelopment
      £70,000 Redevelop Site cleared and relevant learning areas created
      £60,000 Classroom Purchase modular classroom in keeping with centre

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Youth Options Trustees £75,000 Guaranteed
  • Background


    The Outdoor Learning Centre is located in Eastleigh in Hampshire, and only 6 miles from Southampton. It was previously a garden centre, and was left to become overgrown over a period of 10 years. Eastleigh and Southampton are urban areas with relatively high levels of deprivation, yet sit in a county of considerable wealth. Both have predicted population increases for children over the next 5 years.


    Children and young people from Eastleigh and Southampton are likely to be the main beneficiaries of the project. A significant majority of these will be vulnerable and/or disadvantaged both financially and emotionally. Many will not have positive mental health and wellbeing, and will be at risk of developing mental health issues. They will spend most of their time in urban areas, and will not have had the opportunity to engage with and learn about the natural environment.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Youth Options was established in 1937, and have significant experience of engaging and inspiring young people. We are committed to developing young people’s social and emotional skills to improve their chances in life. Our services are individually tailored to deliver vibrant, dynamic and ever-evolving opportunities that connect with and inspire young people. We have an expert understanding of how best to plan programmes to ensure young people are fully engaged and motivated.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Mark Dixon

    Mark, as CEO, will lead on engaging appropriate partners to carry out the physical redevelopment of the site.

    Debbie Burns

    Debbie has written the business plan for the Outdoor Learning Centre. She will write funding applications for redevelopment and delivery of activity.

    Becky Pollard

    Once the centre is open Becky will lead on the development of services from the site, and ensure quality of delivery.