We’re set to launch a new project to be co-designed with those it intends to benefit, after being awarded £75,935 from a fund tackling youth loneliness. We will work with our existing and prospective young customers to create and then run the new project. The project is expected to proactively address issues of social and emotional loneliness amongst some of the most vulnerable young people in the city, by creating a new role which will initially facilitate partnership working with relevant agencies alongside the mapping of community resources and services. The role will also encompass mentoring support for young people, by determining what the young person enjoys doing and what their specific needs are, as well as working with them to identify ongoing goals, such as taking advantage of leisure, employment and education opportunities. Matthew Foreman, YHN’s Customer Services Director, said: “YHN is in a unique position to be able to help some of the most vulnerable young people in Newcastle and so many are already working with us to access housing and support services. “We will be able to proactively identify the households of those most at risk, so we can use preventative strategies to tackle the issue of loneliness before it escalates. I believe we will make a great deal of difference to our young customers’ lives by helping to reduce loneliness, which is a growing concern for this vulnerable group. “Offering additional support and opportunities for young people to reduce isolation, we will assist them to engage with local provision and develop better links to their communities. We will help them to build and develop social networks and a sense of belonging by linking up with existing community resources. Additionally, we will directly provide a range of positive activities and experiences for them to take part in. “This valuable funding will help us to open up this raft of opportunities to young people experiencing or at risk of experiencing loneliness and working with young people to co-design the project will ensure that it can be effectively tailored to fit a range of their peers’ needs. “We are very grateful to the government and the Co-op Foundation for their faith in this project and their support to make it a reality. We look forward to working with many partner organisations in our local area to further develop the offer.” Funding has been awarded from the £2m Youth strand of the Building Connections Fund, a partnership between government and the Co-op Foundation. It is part of the wider £11.5m Building Connections Fund that will support more than 120 organisations to increase social connections and create a sense of community and belonging. The remaining £9.5 million of the Building Connections Fund is being delivered by the Big Lottery Fund. Minister for Loneliness, Mims Davies, said: “There is no one cause of loneliness and therefore no one solution. That is why we are working alongside a broad range of businesses, voluntary organisations and local councils to ensure that those who feel alone are best supported. “From new digital communities, to sports classes that bring people together, this fund will go a long way to achieving that goal. I am committed to encouraging open conversations around this sensitive topic to reduce the stigma and create an environment where everyone is better connected.” Co-op Foundation is the Co-op’s charity. Its Belong network of partners connects and empowers young people to tackle loneliness. It also works to strengthen local youth services and combat the stigma of loneliness. Jamie Ward-Smith, Chair of the Co-op Foundation, said: “By partnering with government on the youth strand of the Building Connections Fund, Co-op Foundation is supporting groups of young people most affected by loneliness to strengthen their connections and sense of belonging, and build their confidence and skills. “We look forward to working with all our partners over the coming years, helping them to tackle youth loneliness at a community level and boosting our joint understanding of loneliness.” Your Homes Newcastle is one of 22 organisations receiving grants from the £2m fund, which is targeted at organisations supporting young people in more deprived areas of England or with specific circumstances that increase the risk of loneliness. A further £1.5m of grants have also been delivered by the Co-op Foundation to support 144 projects that will maximise under-used spaces for access by young people or co-design innovative solutions to existing work tackling youth loneliness. For more information on the Co-op Foundation, visit www.coopfoundation.org.uk