Passports to a brighter future

Published : Mon 23rd Dec Author : Claire Poulton

I’ve always loved the outdoors and the environment, always enjoyed history and heritage. My professional background was teaching about the natural world and history in the outdoors, conceiving and delivering environmental projects, but also working with diverse groups , so when this job popped up, I had to apply. It ticked all the boxes. And here I am, three years on, still loving what I do.

It might sound a bit over the top to some, but I help open up the world of heritage, history and outdoor spaces to a new audience – to people from diverse backgrounds. I manage the Passport to your Future programme which gives people who are under-represented in the Trust the opportunity to spend a year working at one of our amazing places, gaining invaluable work experience and transferable skills.

As well as giving people a chance to develop their skills and confidence through paid work experience, the project helps us to increase the diversity of our workforce – something I’m incredibly passionate about. It helps to bring more people into the wider heritage and conservation sector too.

A key part of my job is to encourage more people, from all sections of society and every part of the country, to get involved with us. I believe that the Passport to your Future programme is key to breaking down barriers. It encourages people who might think that the heritage sector’s not for them, or that it’s a sector that wouldn’t be interested in them, to give it a go. You don’t need formal qualifications to apply, just bucketloads of enthusiasm and a willingness to learn.

The project is a chance to gain technical skills in conservation or heritage management, like how to manage a historic garden, landscape or property. But more than that, it helps people of all ages to gain skills that will be useful in their future career, like team working, communication and time management.

The best bit about my job? The places I get to visit and work in are incredible but it has to be the trainees themselves. I love working with them, I find them genuinely inspiring. It’s so rewarding to watch a trainee’s journey through the year. You see their confidence growing. You see them becoming more employable every day. As job satisfaction goes, that’s pretty hard to beat.

A lot of jobs promise you the opportunity to make a difference. But here, you actually get to do it. I’m helping the Trust to reach out to under-represented groups and increase the diversity of our workforce. The big challenge, the big opportunity, is to make sure that we leave a legacy: that we’re able to encourage a generation of people to get involved in this exciting and rewarding sector.

Claire Poulton is Project Manager for our Passport to your Future initiative.