By Nick Crofts, Co-op Foundation CEO

Co-operation is at the heart of everything we do at the Co-op Foundation. It helps us to empower our partners to do what matters most. It encourages us to put communities front and centre of decision making. And it inspires us to work in partnership with other funders so we can share our learning and have more impact.

That’s why I’m delighted to formally announce today, at the start of Loneliness Awareness Week 2022, that we’ve partnered with the Astra Foundation to massively increase our reach and impact tackling youth loneliness.

We’ve done it, in part, thanks to Co-op Members whose donations support our work. We’ve used our funds to partner with Astra contributing 50% of almost £750k of grants to support UK Youth, Youth Focus: North East and Depaul for three years.

We’re stronger when we work together.

Tackling youth loneliness

Our research shows that chronic youth loneliness is on the rise, and this is linked to poor mental wellbeing for young people. With the projects we’ve chosen to fund, young people will be supported to improve their mental wellbeing in a way that puts them in control.

Our new support also complements Co-op’s partnership with Mind, SAMH and Inspire and increases on our overall £7m investment into tackling youth loneliness.

A bigger impact

The Astra Foundation is a UK-based foundation that aims to combat loneliness in young adults and empower them to reach their potential. When we first met them last year, we knew we could increase our impact through partnership working, helping the organisations we fund to do even more.

The three groups we’re funding are all youth-led.

  • UK Youth and Youth Focus: North East are using an investment of almost £450k to upskill youth workers to better identify and tackle loneliness. By 2024, they expect 1,500 youth workers to engage in the work they’re developing
  • DePaul will use the remaining £300k to tackle homelessness and social isolation in young people across the UK

Their work will build strong communities of young people who collaborate to make things better for themselves and their peers, delivering on our vision of ‘Co-operating for a Fairer World’.

Leveraging match funding

We work hard at the Co-op Foundation to deliver value for Co-op Members through match funding. By match funding with others, we can make donations go even further and by ensuring our partnerships embrace co-operation, we can leverage our co-operative values too.

This isn’t the first time we’ve done this. We’ve already matched £2.5m of our own funding with #iwill to form a £5m #iwill Fund, helping young people to access social action opportunities, and partnered with government on the £2m Building Connections Fund.

Match funding also aligns to our new strategy where we’ll be working in partnership and collaborating with others to create future communities that are fair and build on co-operative values.

Thank you to all Members and colleagues who support our work. You can keep up to date with our future funds and impact by subscribing to our blog or you can donate online to help us do even more.