Please note, this fund has now closed to applications.


Eligible charities and community organisations from across England can apply until 26 September 2018 for up to £80,000 from the Building Connections Fund Youth strand, to expand or enhance their work tackling youth loneliness.

Funding, delivered by the Co-op Foundation, is available for projects that support any groups of young people within the most deprived 30% areas of England.

Grants can also support projects from any location in England that mainly benefit young people with any one or more of the following circumstances:

  • Being a carer
  • Being unemployed or precariously employed
  • Experiencing bereavement
  • Having a disability or long-term health condition
  • Having been in the care system.

Please note, there is no defined age range for the young people successful applicants will support. However, we anticipate most organisations applying to the fund will work with young people aged eight to 25 years old.

Read the guidance notes in full before applying through our online form. The deadline is 26 September 2018.

What is the Building Connections Fund?

The £11.5 million Building Connections Fund is a partnership between Government, Big Lottery Fund and the Co-op Foundation, set up in response to the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness to support projects in England that prevent or reduce loneliness.

The fund is split into two strands: the Main fund and the Youth strand.

  • Close to £9 million will be distributed from the Main Fund by the Big Lottery Fund, with grants of between £30,000 and £100,000 available. £4.5 million has been contributed by the Government, and £5 million from the National Lottery. Please note, this fund has now closed to applications.
  • The £2 million Youth strand is made up of £1m from Government and £1m match funding from the Co-op Foundation. This fund closed on 26 September 2018.

Why are we tackling youth loneliness?

Research from Co-op’s campaign to tackle loneliness with the British Red Cross found that young people feel lonely more than any other age group.

Our own research also found that 65% of young people say loneliness is an issue for their age group while UK Youth’s A Place To Belong report spoke to youth workers, 82% of whom agreed that loneliness affects the young people they work with.

Despite this, there is still limited understanding of what would be most helpful for young people affected by, or at risk of, loneliness.

That’s why, as part of the Building Connections Fund, Co-op Foundation is working with Government to build the evidence base and improve practice on youth loneliness.

How will funding be used?

Successful applicants to the Youth strand will receive funding to explore youth loneliness in greater depth, test youth-led innovations within their existing provision, and share their learning as part of the national Belong network.

Organisations can apply for up to £80,000, as follows:

  • Up to £10,000 (to be spent between December 2018 and March 2019) to engage young people in co-designing innovations to improve the impact of existing provision on tackling loneliness
  • Up to £70,000 (to be spent between April 2019 and March 2021) to implement and evaluate these innovations.

Successful applicants will be announced in December 2018.

Important links:

Learn more about youth loneliness:


Tracey · 6th September 2018 at 12:02 pm

It is encouraging to see that young people’s mental health is getting the support and help it needs especially in an era where children are expected to fend more and more for themselves and become adults before they are teenagers.

Marilyn Jones · 11th September 2018 at 5:16 pm

I feel its important to help youth loneliness this should not be the case in this day and age.

Sue Son · 6th October 2018 at 11:05 am

Are there going to be more rounds of building connections funding in the future?

    Co-op Foundation · 12th October 2018 at 1:10 pm

    Hi Sue,

    Thanks for getting in touch. We don’t currently have another round of Building Connections funding planned, but if you follow our blog then we can keep you up to date with any future funding opportunities. Seperate to our funding, The Co-op’s Local Community Fund applications will open again in spring 2019.More info on the Local Community Fund can be found here:

    Many thanks,

Hull: Youth strand of the Building Connections Fund – Neighbourhood Network Hull · 5th September 2018 at 1:40 pm

[…] For more information and to apply go to the Foundation’s website […]

Co-op Members raise more than £238,000 to tackle youth loneliness – how you’re changing lives through ‘Belong’ – The Co-op Foundation · 24th November 2018 at 12:31 pm

[…] A 2016 Government report noted that “the biggest issue raised by care leavers was one of isolation and loneliness”. That’s why supporting young people with experience of being in care is one of the main priorities for Belong. We already fund projects in Cornwall, London and Manchester, and we’ll extend our reach further next month, when we award grants from the Building Connections Fund enhanced Youth strand. […]

Listening to children and young people to help us tackle loneliness together – The Co-op Foundation · 7th December 2018 at 1:01 pm

[…] shortly be announcing the grants from our Building Connections Fund youth strand, which thanks to additional funds made available as part of the Government’s recently launched […]

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