Co-op Group partners with Barnardo’s to help youth struggling through economic crisis

‘Our work within communities has shown us the impact that the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis is having, most especially on young people’

The Co-op Group has announced a charity partnership with Barnardo’s on a project to help 750,000 young people aged 10-25 with their mental wellbeing, confidence and self-esteem.

The move comes against the backdrop of the cost of living crisis and the aftermath of the pandemic, with a poll from ICM Research finding that over a third (37%) of young people feel the odds are stacked against them.

Further research from the Co-op Group found that 29% of those aged 16-25 say the rising cost of living will make it harder to get a job, and 35% say these factors will negatively impact their mental wellbeing. Almost half (48%) feel they will need to leave their hometown to achieve what they want in life.

In addition, 84% of the Group’s customers agreed that supporting young people is important for their community and 72% think someone they know could benefit from support.

The link-up with Barnardo’s, the UK’s largest children’s charity, will help young people and their families to meet basic needs, including access to food. The Group aims to raise £5m by engaging colleagues, members and customers in a range of national and local fundraising.

Related: Co-op Group works with Crowdfunder on new community support scheme

The initial focus will be on fundraising, says the Group, but its plan is for the partnership to develop so Barnardo’s can deliver innovative new services in communities most at need across the UK, as identified in the Group’s Community Wellbeing Index. In addition, an online offering will be available to offer support to young people.

The partnership will also see the creation of a youth advisory group to enable young people to co-produce activity.

Co-op Group CEO Shirine Khoury-Haq said: “Our work within communities has shown us the impact that the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis is having, most especially on young people – there has never been a more important time to support them. 

“Supporting the communities we serve is in our Co-op DNA and a big part of our vision of Co-operating for a Fairer World. We’re excited to be to working with Barnardo’s as the partnership builds on our ongoing activity to provide young people with access to opportunities, including through the Peer Action Collective that give young people a voice, our work supporting apprenticeships and our 30 Co-op Academy schools.”

Barnardo’s CEO Lynn Perry said: “More than one in four children in the UK are living in poverty and the cost-of-living crisis will make this worse as families struggle to pay their bills. Growing up in poverty means children are at risk of going hungry, they miss out on opportunities and their mental health suffers – all of which can affect them long into adulthood.      

“We are really excited to be working in partnership with Co-op to bring about positive change for children and young people across the UK. Together, we are aiming to help young people access basic needs, like food, improve their mental wellbeing and create better opportunities for their future.”

To find out more, including how you or a young person you know can get help, visit