Co-op Foundation donates £1m to young people tackling loneliness

The Co-op Foundation is working with the #iwill campaign to help inspire young people to take action on loneliness

The Co-op Foundation is working with the #iwill campaign to help young people tackle loneliness in their communities. The foundation has been awarded a £1m grant from the #iwill fund, which it will match with an additional £1m to fund a network of projects that inspire young people to take action on loneliness.

Launched in November 2016, the #iwill campaign is funded through a £40m central investment pot from the government and Big Lottery Fund. The funding will be used to ensure 60% of 10 to 20 year-olds across the UK are taking part in meaningful social action by 2020.

The Co-op Foundation is a charity set up and supported by the Co-op Group working to help disadvantaged communities. One of the charity’s key priorities for 2017-2019 is championing young people’s ability to contribute positively to their communities.

The Co-op Foundation has been working on youth social action programmes since 2009. One of these is Community Apprentice, a project run by the charity Envision, encouraging school and college students to address social issues they care about. As part of the initiative, young people design a project, pitch for funds to set it up and reflect on what they have learnt and the impact they have had. Each community apprentice has a personal skills passport in which they collect feedback throughout the programme from peers and coaches and also reflect on their behaviour.

The programme will now focus on young people’s passions and skills and how to use these to tackle loneliness in their neighbourhoods.

Jim Cooke, Co-op Foundation manager, explained: “Young people are incredibly community-minded, and the majority want to get more involved in local life. But particularly in less affluent parts of the country, there aren’t enough high-quality youth social action opportunities available.

“This funding will build a new generation of involved and active citizens. It will also tackle loneliness, by helping young people form stronger connections and develop valuable life skills.

With this funding, the Co-op Foundation also pledges to facilitate learning between its network of partner organisations about what works in improving and extending social action opportunities, and sharing this through the #iwill Learning Hub. In addition, the Foundation will work to promote the value of social action within the co-operative movement as a means of developing young people’s character in ways which reflect co-operative values.

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