The landscape for young people

By Honor Wilson-Fletcher MBE,
British Exploring Society CEO

Half of young people in the UK report being more anxious than they were a year ago according to the Princes Trust Youth Index, which is a powerful litmus of what it is like to be young in this country right now. This year in particular it flagged the impact of our unstable political and economic landscape. Young people feel financial worries more than most – and money is the area according the Index in which young people feel the least happy. 53% worry that they will never be financially stable or be able to plan ahead financially.

73% said their generation is less certain about future employment than their parents. It is little wonder that 63% say that political events have made them feel anxious about their future. This is affecting mental well-being and confidence in young people. Hundreds of thousands of young people have repeatedly demonstrated that they care passionately about the environment too – and are prepared to hold ‘adults’ to account in any way that they can. It’s hugely impressive, surely, whatever your views on climate change?

We all know that we depend on the talent and, essentially, on the resilience and well-being of the young people around us for a positive future. They need the mental toughness and the skills to solve problems, work together and to be heard.

So what do we do?

Well, we want all young people to have challenging, life-defining learning and adventures in wild, remote locations as an essential preparation for a confident adult life, for a start.

Read what Young Explorers Niamh and Joshua have to say here. This is why we’re asking everyone we know, and you, I hope, to support the Big Give this week. We know you will have many demands made of you this time of year – but through the Big Give we can double your contribution – and it is, after all, in all of our best interests to support a more confident and resilient generation of young people. The Big Give is open now, for one week only (3rd-10th December) Thank you, and, on behalf of us all at British Exploring Society, wherever you are, we hope you have a peaceful and uplifting Christmas break.

Joshua, Young Explorer 2019 “Things changed for me this summer and my life was transformed when I found the inner strength to ignore the negativity of bullies and overcome my self-doubt and anxiety, to put myself forward and join the awe inspiring…sea and land expedition of self-discovery to Iceland…(it)…has taught me that I only have self-imposed limits and that with self-belief, courage, determination and a positive attitude I can exceed these limits and achieve so much more. I have learnt that the taking part, giving 100% and being a good, reliable team member are what matters, not necessarily the end result. The challenges of life on expedition have also made me stronger, more resilient and more prepared to take on life’s challenges and obstacles as a visually impaired person, and more determined not to be held back by what others say or do.”

Niamh, Young Explorer 2019 “The Expedition…was an exceptional experience. We spent two weeks braving the wind, the rain and the waves. We laughed, we cried, we smiled…We became anti-fragile. Our confidence soared through the roof which meant when I got back home, I was able to do so much more than previously. I became better at talking to people. I became a better person.”


I joined British Exploring Society as CEO in February 2016. Previously I was CEO for 6 years at the Aldridge Foundation where I helped establish 12 state schools in some of the most deprived parts of England.

By Honor Wilson-Fletcher MBE,
British Exploring Society CEO