Today, we welcome 21 new partners into Belong – our UK-wide network of organisations helping young people beat loneliness.
Over the next two years, these partners will share £1.6million from the Building Connections Fund Youth strand, our partnership with Government to tackle youth loneliness.
With more than 800 applications to the fund, those that were successful include some of the country’s most innovative and inspiring organisations working with young people, from local neighbourhood-level projects to national charities.
We look forward to working with our partners to share learning from their work, and inform longer-term Government policies that will help connect and empower even more young people.
Who we’re funding
We’ve awarded grants to 22 organisations through the Building Connections Fund Youth strand (including one of our existing Belong partners).
Here’s a bit about who they are, and what they’ll do with the money:
- A New Direction London: Working with London’s Virtual School to support young people in care to develop a programme of arts-based activity that helps build connections with their peers.
- Asfaleia: A co-designed programme will support young people at risk of, or with experience of, homelessness to help them maintain their tenancies and access activities that reduce loneliness.
- Barnardo’s: The “Care Leavers Unite Bristol” (CLUB) project will grow a programme of social activities for isolated care leavers to engage with peers and develop skills and confidence.
- Boxing Futures: This social connection programme will support 40 young women from disadvantaged communities to use Boxercise as a tool to explore emotions and develop peer mentoring skills.
- Chain Reaction Theatre Company: “Action4Gasgoigne” will support young people to plan and deliver youth social action events for their peers to overcome problems they’ve identified on their local estate.
- Children’s HIV Association: Working with Turtle Arts to bring young people with HIV together to build friendships, create music and record podcasts that will be showcased online.
- City of Bradford YMCA: Unemployed young people will work together to co-develop ecotherapy activities, including walks, conservation and other outdoor activity, to reduce loneliness and explore barriers to employment.
- DEBRA: Epidermolysis Bullosa (a rare skin condition) connection groups, supported by young panel members, will connect young people to mentoring and peer support, creating safe places to develop ambitions and discuss difficult topics.
- Edward’s Trust: They will build a community of bereaved young people to develop training for employers, run peer mentoring schemes and provide outreach to their peers to tackle youth loneliness.
- Gaddum Centre: Working in partnership Manchester Metropolitan University, they will use music, digital tools and AI to connect young carers and help them discuss their feelings.
- Health For All (Leeds): Groups of care leavers will come together to develop activities and workshops that build connections. A school group will help prepare young people for life after school and care.
- Ideal For All: Disabled young people will co-design and run activities that offer improved social and learning time with peers experiencing similar barriers, develop new skills and improve mental wellbeing.
- Mancroft Advice Project: They will develop a life-coaching and group work programme and co-design a campaign raising awareness of youth loneliness with young people.
- New Horizon Youth Centre: Young people will design and develop the “Together Project” to help them feel better connected to the community and develop good quality relationships.
- Ourside Youth Association: An expanded series of “Pop-up Youth Clubs” in places where young people go will help develop young people’s confidence, resilience and understanding of loneliness.
- Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospitals Charity: A beatboxing and vocal coaching project for hospitalised young people with cystic fibrosis will reduce the negative impact from hospital stays. Extra tools will be created for those needing remote support.
- Royal Society for Blind Children: Supper clubs for visually impaired young people across London will develop networks and build confidence and skills through talks and workshops.
- Scotswood Natural Community Garden: Sessions for young people aged 9 to 13 and 14 to 18 will explore what it means to be lonely and create opportunities to find solutions.
- St Luke’s Community & Regeneration Enterprises: “Young Commissioners” will create a Connection Commission to research youth loneliness with their peers and work with adult co-commissioners to report back findings and solutions.
- St Werburgh’s City Farm: This volunteering and enterprise-focused outdoor programme will help local young people with mental health difficulties come up with fun business ideas together, building connections and confidence.
- The Children’s Society: A national network of “Young Carer Champions” will co-produce a programme of support and training workshops for other young carers to increase connections.
- Youth Focus: North East (an existing Belong partner): “Community Hosting” will help build relationships between groups of unemployed young people from urban and rural environments, creating connections and tackling isolation.
This work is part of the wider £11.5m Building Connections Fund that also includes Big Lottery Fund, which today announced 104 new grants tackling loneliness across all ages.
This is a really exciting time for our Belong network, as we expand our reach into more local communities and work with a wider range of young people affected by loneliness.
This was made possible thanks to the incredible support we’ve received all year from Co-op Members, colleagues and other supporters who have helped raise funds for our cause. Thank you for your help to tackle youth loneliness, and from everyone at the Co-op Foundation, we wish you all a very merry Christmas.
Keep following our blog to hear about some of the exciting plans we we’ve got lined up for 2019.
You can continue to support this work by choosing Belong as your Local Cause (if you’re a Co-op Member), donating or fundraising online or by giving your unwanted clothes to official textile banks at your local Co-op store.