By Andy Mortimer, Head of Comms at the Co-op Foundation

I’m delighted that our charity, the Co-op Foundation, has partnered with the Co-op Academies Trust once again to help achieve Co-op’s vision of ‘Co-operating for a Fairer World’. We’ve been helping students learn about co-operation and how they can get involved with projects that improve local communities. 

Work is funded through a £165,000 grant from the Foundation’s #iwill Fund to our youth social action partner, Envision. Envision will work with 10 secondary Co-op Academies from across the North to help students design, develop, and deliver social action projects that will have a positive impact on issues they care about. 

We ‘kicked off’ our programme at the Etihad Stadium earlier this month. Students came up with lots of exciting ideas for their social action projects, while also learning how co-operative values can benefit their community.

I can’t wait to see the impact they have!

Stronger communities

The Co-op Foundation is Co-op’s charity. Our funding helps to build fairer and more co-operative communities.

We’ve been funding youth social action projects to help tackle loneliness and improve mental wellbeing since 2017. So far, we’ve delivered £4.3m of grants for projects, including this funding to Envision, for the benefit of the Academies Trust.

Youth social action projects include things like campaigning, fundraising and volunteering and they’re a great way for young people to come together to build a sense of community. They have the triple benefit of helping the young person taking part to build their confidence and essential skills alongside their peers and the wider community.

This programme will see up to 2,500 Academy students benefit from getting involved.

Co-op ways of being

I was proud to be asked to speak to the Academy students at the launch event earlier this month.

Co-operative values are a key part of youth social action, and I challenged the teams to consider how these values can improve life for their peers and community.

With the support of the Envision team, students spent the day planning out  social action ideas. They’ll develop these further over the next few weeks before taking part in an Apprentice-style pitch, where they put their ideas forward to a panel and bid for up to £100 of funding to make their idea a reality. They’ll then present the outcomes of their project during the final graduation event in June.

Helping themselves and others

By working together, academy students will help tackle issues, improve lives and solve problems in their school and community by focusing on what matters most to them. They’ll also develop their own confidence and essential skills, a really important part of the Co-op’s wider work to improve skills and employment prospects for young people.

Read how Co-op is also delivering on this work through its own #iwill partnership on the Peer Action Collective.

We’re excited to see how academy students think outside the box to deliver their new ideas over the next few weeks. This is a great way of utilising our Co-op Ways of Being to make a positive change within their local communities.