Lantern Fund lights up young people’s lives

We’re so grateful for the support we get through the Natural History Society of Northumbria’s Lantern Fund that helps get the young people we work with out into the countryside and enjoying the natural world.

Both our charity and the Lantern Fund grew out of the philanthropic endeavours of late nineteenth century Novocastrians. In the case of Children North East, it was benefactors, Messrs Lunn and Watson who saw the plight of Newcastle’s street children and decided to take them to the Coast for fresh air and fun, whilst for early members of the Natural History Society, it was about inspiring the next generation with nature.

In 1902, they launched a series of Christmas lectures for young people which were delivered by lantern light in what was then the Hancock Museum (now the Great North Museum: Hancock). They were attended by hundreds of school children from across the city. Over a century later, they lend their name to the Lantern Fund, which continues to connect children with nature today.

Youth worker with our Young People’s Service, Alana Dunton, says:

“Many young people in our region do not have the opportunity to visit natural spaces or feel they are ‘for them’. COVID-19 has led to huge feelings of isolation, disconnection and anxiety amongst young people. Encouraging them to spend time looking at the nature around them has helped them to feel part of something bigger and brought a sense of calm to their often turbulent home lives.

The sense of joy and wonder on young people’s faces during wildlife encounters and exploring wild places is testament to the importance of encouraging more time in nature, especially in such challenging times.”


The young people we work with really appreciate such visits too. Sandra, 15, was on the Farnes trip and also benefited from doing 30 Days Wild last June, a Wildlife Trusts initiative our Young People’s Service introduced to their groups.

Sandra said:

“Going to the Farne Islands was so fun, and we saw and learned so much. I would not have got to go there without the Lantern Fund as we don’t have money for things like that.

We got really close as a family doing 30 Days Wild. It made me feel calm and I didn’t feel as much stress and pressures about school and family worries, nature was a way out of it.

Thank you for the experience. I notice nature so much more and think more about the world since having the opportunity to really look, we are not the only things in it.”


The video below was made by wildlife cameraman, Cain Scrimgeour. It follows a group of young people from Children North East on the boat trip to the Farne Islands, supported by the Lantern Fund and features Alana speaking about the value of creating opportunities for wildlife encounters for young people who may not otherwise be able to afford such visits.

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