Young care leavers in Greater Manchester have been taking part in a pioneering initiative aimed at tackling youth loneliness.
The Youth Co-operative Action project – run in 2018 by the Co-operative College and supported by the Co-op Foundation through a £25,000 grant from the #iwill Fund – aimed to inspire young people through creating a support network to bring young care leavers together.
The initiative followed a 2016 government report highlighting how 64% of leaving care services were judged by Ofsted in 2015 as ‘requiring improvement’ or ‘inadequate’.
Feedback from care leavers also highlighted that isolation and loneliness were huge issues, with the lack of a reliable social network throughout their late teens and early twenties also cited as being particularly “problematic”.
As part of the project, groups of care leavers from Rochdale and Manchester visited community-based projects and organisations – such as Incredible Edible in Todmorden and Pastures New in Rochdale – which emphasise working together and giving back to the community.
“This gave the young people a chance to witness the difference social action projects could make to those involved and their local areas,” said the Co-operative College, “while also enabling then to pick up inspiration for their own joint community project that they’ll launch as a group later this year with the support of Greater Manchester Youth Network.”
The Youth Co-operative Action project finishes at the end of November with a celebration event. Those involved will then act as mentors for any future projects.
“Isolation and loneliness are real issues for many young care leavers,” said Jim Cooke, head of the Co-op Foundation. “By funding projects such as this, the Co-op Foundation is supporting young people to talk openly about loneliness, often for the first time, while also helping each other and their communities through youth social action.”
Simon Parkinson, chief executive and principal of the Co-operative College, added: “This is a fantastic project that is making a real difference to those involved and to local communities across Greater Manchester. By placing co-operative values like solidarity, social responsibility and openness at the heart of this work we’re inspiring a new generation of young people to work together and tackle the issues that matter to them.”