Youth charities can apply for cash from the Co-op Foundation and #iwill fund

The partnership is offering £2m for charities working in deprived areas, to inspire young people to take action against loneliness

Youth charities from disadvantaged areas in England can apply for a share of £2m funding from the Co-op Foundation’s partnership with the #iwill fund.

The Foundation has been awarded a £1m grant from the #iwill fund, which it will match with an additional £1m to fund a network of projects to inspire young people to take action to address loneliness.

The first £400,000 of this funding will be awarded in 2017 through nine regional grants and one larger national project.

Launched in November 2016, the #iwill campaign is funded through a £40m central investment pot from the government and Big Lottery Fund. The funding will be used to ensure that 60% of 10 to 20 year-olds across the UK are taking part in meaningful social action by 2020.

The Co-op Foundation is a charity set up and supported by the Co-op Group, working to help disadvantaged communities.

Its project with #iwill is targeted at disadvantaged areas to encourage youth social action activities that have the potential to make a positive difference to communities and develop young people’s skills.

Jim Cooke, Co-op Foundation manager, said: “The challenges of growing up today, from the impact of social media to the ‘gig’ economy, mean that loneliness is a significant issue for young people.

“By creating more opportunities to take part in meaningful social action, we hope to strengthen young people’s sense of belonging and help develop a generation of confident, connected young citizens.”

The Co-op Foundation has set a priority for 2017-2019 to champion young people’s ability to contribute positively to their communities.

As part of this, the foundation has teamed up with a number of partners, including Youth Focus: North East, a regional hub connecting young people and the organisations and professionals who support them. They have worked with a group of young people to develop a grassroots peer-to-peer approach to tackling loneliness named Fast Friends. The project uses photography to explore experiences of loneliness and encourage other young people to open up about the issue faced and support each other though positive actions.

Fast Friends member Adam Cowley, 21, said: “I think the loneliness project is important because a lot of young people suffer from isolation and we can all help to do something about it.”

Charlotte Hill, chief executive of Step Up To Serve, which coordinates the #iwillcampaign, said: “Social action builds vital skills while enabling young people to contribute to their communities. Young people should all have access to these opportunities to make a difference, regardless of their background.

“This exciting new partnership is all about enabling young people to understand the challenges of loneliness and consider how they can help others to cope with them. I look forward to hearing about the great new youth-led projects this funding will support.”

Youth charities have until 7 July to apply for funding. More information is available on the foundation’s website.