Projects and partners

Young people beating loneliness

Loneliness can affect us at any time of life. Young people are no exception.

Research by the Co-op in 2016 found that 32% of 16 to 24 year-olds feel lonely ‘often’ or ‘always’.

The Co-op Foundation is looking at loneliness through young people’s eyes, to learn more about the factors behind this statistic, including:

  • Life transitions, such as leaving home or being bereaved
  • ‘Being different’ - for example disability or sexual identity
  • Poverty, inequality and precarious employment
  • The role of the internet and social media
  • How stigma can make lonely young people reluctant to ask for help

Our ‘Belong’ programme is building a national network of projects tackling loneliness among disadvantaged young people. By helping our partners collaborate and share learning, we’re facilitating a national conversation about youth loneliness and strengthening local practice.

So far, we've supported 13 partners using a range of ways to tackle youth loneliness. Now we're expanding our network across the UK.

Current projects and partners

Manchester Metropolitan University

MMU, in partnership with 42nd Street, have trained a group of young co-researchers who are investigating how loneliness affects young people across the UK. Their research findings will be widely shared to help raise awareness and improve support.


Envision’s ‘Community Apprentice’ project builds young people’s skills and helps them tackle social issues they care about in their local communities.

Youth Focus: North East

Building on their ‘Fast Friends’ project, Youth Focus: North East are introducing new drop-in sessions for young people to meet and make new friends.

Royal Exchange Theatre

‘Heard not Hidden’ has brought young deaf people in Rochdale together to build a supportive community and make friends through creative activities.

Prince’s Trust

‘Get Started With Art’ provides art courses, with follow-up support, for young people in Bristol experiencing isolation and struggling to access opportunities.


Working with award-winning children’s playwright Mike Kenny to develop a play about youth loneliness, with input from workshops in South London schools.


Offering a coaching programme to young care leavers in London, helping them to navigate through the challenging transition to independence.

Carefree Cornwall

Providing opportunities for care-experienced young people in Cornwall to volunteer as peer mentors, helping others navigate their transition out of care.

Changing our Lives

Helping young people with disabilities in Birmingham and Walsall to make new friends through shared interests.

Clean Break

Using theatre to help young female ex-offenders in London to tackle loneliness and isolation.

Whizz Kidz

Running a national leadership programme for young wheelchair users to increase their skills, confidence and aspirations.

42nd Street

Equipping local community groups in Greater Manchester with the skills and confidence to support young people who have experienced trauma following the Manchester Arena attack in May 2017.

Youth Action Northern Ireland

Working collaboratively with four regional partners to tackle loneliness through LIFEMAPS, an approach that focuses on mental health and participation in community activities.

Expanding our network

We're reaching more young people through our £2 million #iwill fund

#iwill is a UK-wide campaign to get 6 out of 10 young people involved in social action by 2020. Social action involves activities like campaigning, fundraising and volunteering, which make a positive difference to communities while developing young people’s skills.

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 will be matched by £1 million from the Co-op Foundation. Our grants will fund projects that inspire young people in disadvantaged communities to tackle loneliness, through social action that’s shaped by co-operative values.

We’re also developing partnerships in Scotland and Wales, so that by the end of 2017 our network will have a presence on the ground in all parts of the UK.

Get in touch

To contact the team, email

Please note that the Foundation is not inviting applications for funding at the moment. If you're looking for funding for a youth social action project, check if one of the other #iwill match funders might be right for you.

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