Investing £5.1 million to empower young people to lead change in their communities

18 March 2021

The Youth Endowment Fund, the #iwill Fund and the Co-op and have come together to give young people with experiences of violence a voice – and are calling on likeminded partners to help

Youth Endowment Fund

Today, the Youth Endowment Fund (YEF), the #iwill Fund (a joint investment between The National Lottery Community Fund and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) and the Co-op announced a unique partnership, investing £5.1 million to give young people the chance to make their communities safer, fairer places to live.

All too often, young people who experience violence aren’t heard. But change won’t happen if young people aren’t at the heart of it. That’s why the partners have come together to give young people the chance to take the lead, so that they’re shaping the solutions they want to see.

This joint investment will build a ground-breaking network of peer researchers (aged 16 – 25), who’ll find out about young people’s experiences. Those young people will then be supported to take what they learn and turn it into action. From campaigning to improve local mental health services, setting up a youth centre or supporting young people into employment – the partnership will create more opportunities for young people to make change.

Working around the country

To make sure young people from all over England and Wales get the chance to take part, the partners will work with local organisations to recruit and support them.

If you work for a youth organisation and want to find out how you get involved, visit the Youth Endowment Fund’s website today.

Jon Yates, Executive Director of the Youth Endowment Fund, said: “This partnership is critical to achieving our mission of keeping young people safe from violence.

“At the Youth Endowment Fund, we’re dedicated to finding the programmes and practices that help keep young people safe. To do that we must listen and empower the young people most affected by violence. Their voices must be at the heart of decision-making.

“That is why - together with our partners at the #iwill Fund and the Coop - we are building a network of young researchers. With them we will understand what needs to change and push for it to happen. We are now looking for the very best local youth organisations who want to help make this happen. If that sounds like you, please don’t hesitate to apply. Violence is not inevitable and together we can make our children’s lives safer."

Rebecca Birkbeck, Director of Community & Shared Value at Co-op, said: “Our work in our local communities has shown us the positive impact young people can have when they are given opportunities to take action on the issues they care about. We’re delighted to be working with the Youth Endowment Fund and the #iwill Fund on such an innovative project so that more young people can be empowered to make a real difference in their communities.

“Their experiences and their voices will take the lead as they come together to make the world a fairer place, whether that’s supporting fairer access to food, improving mental wellbeing services, or creating equal opportunities in education and employment for young people in their communities.”

Helen Whyman, Head of #iwill Fund, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players and funding from DCMS, we are able to support this work. This partnership is a vital step towards creating lasting change and safer communities for our young people to live in. We cannot do this without young people sharing their experiences and using their voice to design and deliver what is needed to really make a difference.

“We’re proud to be partnering with the Youth Endowment Fund and the Co-op, working alongside youth organisations and young people we will empower them to take the lead and shape solutions to ending serious youth violence.”

The #iwill Fund is made possible thanks to £50 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.


Notes to editors For media interviews, please contact: Laura Russell, Head of Public Affairs and Communications at the Youth Endowment Fund on:; 07414 406 751

Youth Endowment Fund

#iwill Fund

  • The #iwill Fund is made possible thanks to £50 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 #iwill Fund brings together a group of organisations who all contribute funding to embed meaningful social action into the lives of young people.
  • The #iwill Fund supports the aims of the #iwill campaign - to make involvement in social action a part of life for young people, by recognising the benefit for both young people and their communities.
  • By bringing together funders from across different sectors and by making sure that young people have a say in where the funding goes – the #iwill Fund is taking a collaborative approach.

The National Lottery Community Fund

  • We are the largest funder of community activity in the UK – we’re proud to award money raised by National Lottery players to communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Since June 2004, we have made over 200,000 grants and awarded over £9 billion to projects that have benefited millions of people.
  • We are passionate about funding great ideas that matter to communities and make a difference to people’s lives. At the heart of everything we do is the belief that when people are in the lead, communities thrive. Thanks to the support of National Lottery players, our funding is open to everyone. We’re privileged to be able to work with the smallest of local groups right up to UK-wide charities, enabling people and communities to bring their ambitions to life.


The Co-op

  • The Co-op is one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives with interests across food, funerals, insurance, legal services and health. Owned by millions of UK consumers, the Co-op operates 2,600 food stores, over 1,000 funeral homes and provides products to over 5,100 other stores, including those run by independent co-operative societies and through its wholesale business, Nisa Retail Limited.
  • Employing over 62,000 people, the Co-op has an annual turnover of £10 billion. As well as having clear financial and operational objectives, the Co-op is a recognised leader for its social goals and community-led programmes. The Co-op exists to meet members’ needs and stand up for the things they believe in.

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