Young people with learning disabilities will be matched with volunteers who will help them plan nights out and go to gigs, with support from the Co-op Foundation.
Sixteen projects will receive £70,000 over the next two years as part of a £1.12m investment by the Co-op Foundation – part of its agreement to match-fund the #iwill project, a £40m joint investment from the Big Lottery Fund and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to help young people access high quality social action opportunities.
One scheme recently awarded funding is the Mencap’s “Gig Buddies” project, which is working in Norwich, Bradford and East Riding of Yorkshire; it matches volunteers with young people with learning disabilities who share similar interests so they can attend nightlife activities together.
Other initiatives include Make Some Noise, which works with secondary school pupils to help younger children move up schools, and Off The Record, which helps young people who are LGBTQ+ or who have experience of mental ill health to co-ordinate and deliver campaigns.
Jim Cooke, head of the Co-op Foundation, said: “Good quality youth social action has a double benefit, making a positive impact on the young people who take part, and supporting others in their community.
“We’re delighted to be funding such innovative projects today through the #iwill Fund that will help increase young people’s skills and confidence, build stronger communities and help tackle difficult transitions that we know can increase the chances of loneliness.”
The Co-op Foundation has been tackling youth loneliness since 2017.