Grants of up to £10,000 will be given through the Co-op Foundation’s #iwill Fund with a total of £50,000 of funding available.
The Foundation – the charitable arm of the Co-op Group – expects to make about five grants. It is looking to fund social action projects that equip young people with the skills they need to provide peer support. Grants could also help young people to use their experiences as a way to speak up and recommend ways for local services to help other bereaved young people.
A survey of 30,000 people by Co-op Funeralcare found that 16 to 29-year-olds are the age group most likely to bottle up grief, with just under a quarter (24%) saying they ‘kept it to themselves’ when suffering a bereavement. Young people were also most likely to be left out of social arrangements because of bereavement, according to the survey.
One organisations that has already received support from the Co-op Foundation is Edward’s Trust, which works to tackle youth loneliness among bereaved young people. The Foundation used its Building Connections Fund to help them expand their work.
Yvonne Gilligan, chief executive of Edward’s Trust, said: “Being a bereaved child is a very lonely and isolating place. We ensure that young people have a space to support one another, to care for one another, to share their stories and, most importantly, realise that they’re not alone. Voices of young, bereaved people are not heard; and they need to be.”
Jim Cooke, head of Co-op Foundation, said: “As the Co-op’s charity, we’re delighted to be partnering with Co-op Funeralcare to provide grants through our #iwill Fund. Losing a close friend or family member is difficult at any age, and it can be particularly tough for young people who might be dealing with other pressures at home, at school or in their social lives.
“Helping others going through similar experiences is a great way for young people to build their confidence, skills and sense of belonging. And by recommending how others can support bereaved young people better, they can make a long-term difference for their peers.”
David Collingwood, director of funerals for Co-op Funeralcare, added: “At Co-op Funeralcare, we understand how experiencing a bereavement can have a major impact on the life of an individual, and this is even more pronounced when it happens at a young age.
“Bereavement is unique to every person, and everyone chooses to deal with the loss of a loved one in different ways. It’s a long process, but the long-term support of others is essential when trying to overcome the hurdles grief entails. Co-op Funeralcare has seen first-hand the importance of support groups within the community and we are honoured to be part of this crucial initiative.”
Groups have until 12pm (noon) on Friday 3 April to apply for funding.