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We’re looking for nine new partners in England, to help us tackle youth loneliness through social action.

Last year, we launched our £2 million #iwill Fund. In the first round of the fund we awarded £340,000 to 10 projects, which have joined our UK-wide Belong network of partners committed to understanding and addressing youth loneliness.

This year we aim to award another nine grants from the fund – one in each region of England. Successful applicants will receive up to £70,000 over two years, for projects that:

  • create high-quality youth social action opportunities, which can be sustainably embedded into local provision
  • overcome barriers to young people talking about loneliness, and help them to develop effective forms of mutual peer support.

We’re particularly looking for projects that will work with young people to respond to the findings of our new report, ‘All our emotions are important – breaking the silence about youth loneliness’. You can access the full report here.

The research explores young people’s experiences of loneliness, and the barriers they face to talking about this issue. Key findings include:

  • Almost two-thirds (65%) of young people think that loneliness is a problem for their generation
  • 81% say that fear of others’ reactions would stop them talking about feeling lonely
  • Fewer than one in ten (9%) think that their age group is confident discussing loneliness
  • Young men and women can each experience different pressures that affect how they respond to loneliness
  • The impact of technology on youth loneliness is mixed, with concerns about social media balanced by positive views on the potential of the internet to enhance ‘real life’ interaction.

What might help?

Young people would rather confide in others their own age than anyone else. And they are more open to helping others who might be lonely, than to asking for help themselves. Our findings suggest that if young people can overcome the ‘invisible wall’ that’s preventing them from talking about loneliness, there is significant untapped potential for mutual peer support.  

Arts and creative approaches can be effective for engaging with this topic. For example, one of our current #iwill partners, Make Some Noise, are exploring loneliness through music activities. Young people then take action to help others who may be at risk of loneliness, by organising a welcoming music festival for new students starting secondary school.

The ‘double benefit’ to young project participants and their wider peer groups and communities is an essential characteristic of good-quality youth social action. The #iwill campaign was set up to increase the number of young people taking part in meaningful social action by 2020.  The projects we support through our fund will contribute towards this goal.

A socio-economic divide

We know that young people from lower-income backgrounds are less likely to take part in social action. And a worrying new finding from our research is that they also feel less comfortable turning to others if they feel lonely.  

All our #iwill Fund grants are targeted at more disadvantaged areas. For this round, we’ve identified 32 eligible areas, using indices of deprivation as well as other factors like the number of existing youth social action opportunities locally.

How to apply

Full details of the eligible locations, other criteria and the application process are available here. Organisations have until 5pm Friday 22 June 2018 to apply.

 

The #iwill Fund is made possible thanks to £40 million joint funding from the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund, and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. £1 million from the #iwill Fund is being matched by £1 million from the Co-op Foundation over 3 years.


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