Working in partnership to build communities of the future together 

By Deanne Dixon, Funding & Partnerships Manager

Partnership working is integral to our work as Co-op’s charity. We believe co-operation is at the heart of strong communities and we’re proud to work with others to make them fairer and extend our impact.  

One example of this work is our £5m #iwill Fund partnership with The National Lottery Community Fund and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS). 

Our #iwill Fund helps us support young people into high quality social action opportunities. Here, they can help themselves, their peers and their communities. It’s a triple benefit all at once. 

Our amazing partners worked hard throughout 2022 to provide these opportunities. They shared power and built the next generation of activists, which is what our new strategy wants to achieve. 

Thank you for your brilliant work so far. Let’s build communities of the future together.

A Greater Manchester Youth Network volunteer, getting involved in the #iwill Fund and Co-op Foundation funded Youth Advocacy Group.

Greater Manchester Youth Network  

One of the organisations we’ve supported through our #iwill Fund in 2022 is the Greater Manchester Youth Network (GMYN). We’ve actually been working together for quite some time and we’ve awarded our partner £140k of grants since 2017

In 2022, its Youth Advocacy Group supported young people with additional needs to improve public transport and access to local spaces for their peers.  

“I’ve got a lot more confident since joining. I used to be really shy but now I love being around people and I really like feeling that I’m a part of something. It brings purpose to my life.” 

Sammy, Greater Manchester Youth Network Youth Advocate

Almost 50 young volunteers used their lived experience to advocate for public transport networks that are easier to navigate for young people with additional needs. They hosted meetings with Transport for Greater Manchester to share their experiences and advised on how to make the transport network more accessible.  

The meetings with Transport for Greater Manchester were positive and they welcomed the insight the Youth Advocacy Group could bring around the barriers young people can face when using public transport.  

By using their voice to affect change, the young people increased their confidence and learned new skills, while actively helping to change policy for the good of their peers. They’re doing their bit to co-operate for a fairer world.  

Watch our video to learn more about their experiences. 

Our 2022 impact 

In 2022 we awarded £1.2m to 37 #iwill Fund projects that we’d previously funded to help them continue their youth social action work. A total of 30 of these projects reported through our monitoring process that they had achieved the following outcomes from the beginning of their funding in 2020 till August 2022:  

Being part of #iwill Fund also enabled us to work with other funders, and learn from them too as our CEO, Nick Crofts explains in what he’s learned.

iwill lockup - correct version

The #iwill Fund is made possible thanks to £54 million joint investment from The National Lottery Community Fund and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to support young people to access high quality social action opportunities. The Co-op Foundation acts as a match funder and awards grants on behalf of the #iwill Fund. We currently support 39 projects through our £5m fund. 

The #iwill Fund supports the aims of the #iwill movement – to make involvement in social action a part of life for young people. 

Keep reading

This story is part of our Learning & Impact Report 2022. Head to our interactive webpage to read more and sign up to our blog to keep up to date with our plans. You can also help us do even more in 2023 by donating your Co-op Member Reward online or in App, or pledging to give on JustGiving.