Women-led change in Rochdale

The Youth Co-operative Action Programme is empowering young people to tell their story

Five young women are leading change in their community after taking part in a Youth Co-operative Action Programme.

The scheme, delivered in towns and cities across England and supported by a £170,000 grant from the Co-op Foundation’s #iwill Fund, focuses on youth activism, inspiring a new generation to use co-operative values and principles to make a change where they live. Each cohort is encouraged to think differently to solve problems in their community and understand the real power of their voice.

The Rochdale branch of the project, delivered by the Co-operative College in partnership with Greater Manchester Youth Network, identified child poverty as an issue in their community that resonated with them. Working together, five women aged 12- 17 recently held an event online inviting members of the public along to learn about child poverty. The event also featured an interview with local MP Tony Lloyd.

“The project has given me the platform and the opportunity to challenge the various issues surrounding child poverty and the stigma around it,” said Farah Khan, 17, who took part in the programme. “It’s helped me understand that challenging issues is necessary and that it needs to be done – and has also given me the confidence to do that.”

Through taking part in the scheme, all those involved learnt new skills and met new people, having fun while focusing on team work and problem-solving. During lockdown, participants have come together virtually at a time when it’s never been easier to feel isolated and alone, as emphasised by the project’s hashtag #TogetherNotAlone.

Marium, 14, added: “The project has changed my life and the way I see the world by educating me more. Before I started going to school, the people who were part of the project were the only people I would see other than the people I live with. It helped me stop feeling lonely and sometimes it would be the highlight of my week.”

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