Young people sitting around a table chatting

We’re proud to announce that our charity, the Co-op Foundation, has today awarded more than £1.6m to projects tackling youth loneliness in England. We’ve also committed an extra £440,000 to expand our work in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – confirming our position as the UK’s leading charity working on this issue.

We reached this milestone today thanks to our partnership with Government on the Building Connections Fund Youth strand. But this was only possible because of the incredible support of our colleagues and members.

They first helped put loneliness into the national spotlight through Co-op’s partnership with the British Red Cross, and this year raised further funds to tackle youth loneliness through the Co-op Foundation’s Belong programme.

Building Connections Fund explained

Prime Minister Theresa May announced in June that the Government was partnering with Co-op Foundation to tackle youth loneliness. This was part of the wider £11.5m Building Connections Fund, which also included the Big Lottery Fund.

The Government awarded the Co-op Foundation £1m, which we will match through other donations. We’ll use the combined £2m Building Connections Fund Youth strand to make a long-term difference on this issue, which two-thirds of young people believe is a problem – but fewer than one in five feel is currently taken seriously.

The projects we’re funding today will start working with young people immediately, exploring youth loneliness in greater depth before delivering innovative responses over the next two years. Learning from this work will be shared with youth organisations across the country and inform longer-term Government policies to tackle youth loneliness.

What else we’ve been doing

As well as supporting more projects in England through the Building Connections Fund, we’re also proud to have trebled our funding for Belong projects in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Sharing resources fairly across all parts of the UK is one of our key commitments to equality and equity and we’ve committed £440,000 to support young people to run events and campaigns that tackle youth loneliness, and take part in social action.

We’re also looking forward to helping even more young people to tackle loneliness in the New Year, making a further round of grants from the Building Connections Fund and two new partnerships to help local youth services share learning and develop their skills.

Thank you

Thank you to everyone who has supported us this year. That includes colleagues who’ve raised funds, more than 63,000 Co-op Members who chose the Co-op Foundation’s Belong programme as their local cause, and all those who’ve given their unwanted clothes to our recycling banks.

Every penny raised has helped us connect and empower more young people through our projects, raise awareness of youth loneliness and secure extra support from government and other funders for an even greater impact.

You can still choose Belong as your local cause, or support us by donating or raising funds online.

Jim Cooke
Head of the Co-op Foundation