By Jim Cooke, Head of the Co-op Foundation

The Co-op Foundation has just awarded grants from the #iwill Fund to nine youth organisations across England that will empower young people to speak up about community spaces they care about, and work together to make them better.

These grants form the first round of support available from the Foundation’s £3m extension to its #iwill Fund, designed to empower young people to improve spaces, wellbeing and skills which are the key focus areas of the Co-operate 2022 community plan. Rebecca Birkbeck, Director of Community and Shared Value, shared our plans for the fund with colleagues last year.

We’ve awarded the funding to some amazing organisations who I’m sure will make a fantastic impact in improving community spaces across the UK. These include:

  • Comics Youth: Young people from the LGBTQ+ community will design and build “public living rooms” in disused shop fronts to help break down the stigma of mental health
  • Groundwork UK: A national network of young ambassadors will advocate for young people’s voices in the planning and use of green spaces
  • Greater Manchester Youth Network: Young people with special educational needs and disabilities will campaign for changes to public transport to help make community spaces in Greater Manchester more accessible
  • Young Lives Consortium: Working in collaboration with other organisations, young people will improve the design and use of unused retail space and create pop-up spaces across their district of Wakefield

Over the past three years, our match funding partnership with #iwill has shown the positive impact young people can have when they are given opportunities to take action on the issues they care about.

How you can #saveourspaces

You can also get involved in making sure your local community spaces are looked after for years to come. Last year, the Co-op announced it had partnered with Locality to protect, support and improve 2,000 at-risk community spaces over the next three years.

For more information or to highlight a space that you think needs support, click here.