Co-op Foundation awards £1.8m to youth projects across England

Money will go to 42 organisations to help young people improve their communities and boost wellbeing

The Co-op Group’s charity, the Co-op Foundation, has started 2021 by awarding the largest amount of funding from its #iwill Fund to date.

A total of £1.8m in grants will be awarded to 42 organisations  across  England, to help deliver projects that will help young people improve their community, provide peer support, and improve wellbeing.

The funding spans three areas:

Peer support in schools: Co-op Foundation has awarded £1.125m to 17 organisations that will help young people support each other with the move from primary to secondary school

Wellbeing support during bereavement: Co-op Foundation has awarded £421k to 16 projects helping young people support each other through bereavement, and use their experiences to advocate for support

Improving access to local spaces: Three organisations will receive £209k of follow-on funding to build on their work from last year to help young people improve community spaces.

Co-op Foundation will offer flexibility to those projects impacted by the latest lockdown restrictions.

The #iwill Fund is a £50m joint investment from the National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, using National Lottery funding, and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to help young people access high quality social action opportunities. The Co-op Foundation acts as a match funder.

Co-op Foundation has already awarded over £3m in grants since it first partnered with the #iwill Fund in 2017. It will launch further rounds of #iwill Fund grants later this year, which will use learnings to help other organisations help their community.

Nick Crofts, CEO of Co-op Foundation, said: “2020 was a hugely challenging year for the charity sector. So, being able to start 2021 by awarding funding to organisations focusing on empowering young people, is something we’re really proud of.

“As partners of the #iwill Fund, we believe that youth social action, such as peer-to-peer support, can help young people build their confidence, skills, friendships and sense of community. Funding awarded today will improve young people’s wellbeing at a time when it’s needed more than ever.”

As part of the £1.8m, the Foundation has also partnered with Co-op Funeralcare to award £120k to six youth social action projects tackling bereavement through peer support in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Co-op Funeralcare’s involvement is in response to findings from its survey into death, dying, and bereavement, which found that young people are most likely to bottle up their feelings and be excluded from social arrangements when experiencing bereavement.

Sam Tyrer, managing director at Co-op Funeralcare said: “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.”