The Co-op’s Youth Endowment Fund is investing £7.5 million into a ground-breaking youth-led network, the Peer Action Collective (PAC), to support young people in making communities safer and fairer.
The new investment will see PAC and the convenience retailers‘ #iwill fund continue for the next five years with the goal to positively impact the lives of over 11,000 young people in England and Wales through peer research and social action.
The long-term investment comes as PAC’s first research report, based on insights from over 4,600 young people, revealing they worry that social deprivation, compounded by the cost-of-living crisis, will negatively impact their safety and employment prospects.
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The #iwill Fund is made possible thanks to a £66 million joint investment from The National Lottery Community Fund and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to support young people to access high quality social action.
The #iwill Fund is investing a further £2.5 million into the PAC, to help change adult understanding of issues around youth violence, and create social action projects in local communities to improve provision, spaces, and relationships.
By 2028 Co-op, the Youth Endowment fund and the #iwill Fund will have invested £12.7 million into the PAC, creating long term and sustainable social action to help young people access opportunities and live a life free from violence.
“Our work in our local communities has shown us the positive, long term impact young people can have when they are given opportunities to act on the issues they care about,” director of community and member participation at Co-op, Rebecca Birkbeck said.
“The research from the young people in the Peer Action Collective lays bare the inequalities their generation are now facing and we simply cannot have a situation where they feel they cannot change their path or improve their life chances.
“At Co-op, our priority is to enable young people to use their voices and take charge of their own lives, no matter where they live or their background.”
She added: “Whether it be through our other youth-led programmes like our Co-op Academies or our new charity partnership with Barnado’s, or today through our £4.1m investment in the Peer Action Collective, we are committed to ensuring young people’s voices and lived experiences are heard to help create safer communities and the world a fairer place.”
Assistant director of research and youth understanding at the Youth Endowment Fund, Peter Babudu said: “The Youth Endowment Fund’s mission to prevent children and young people becoming involved in violence.
“To do this, we need to understand their lives, the issues they face and what works to keep them safe from harm. The Peer Action Collective is a key part of helping us do this.
“Over the last 17 months, PAC has demonstrated that there’s a real appetite from young people to be the change they want to see in the world. We’re delighted to announce our long-term support for the project. Some fantastic youth-led initiatives have been born out of the peer research.
“The continuation of PAC will give even more young people the opportunity to be at the forefront of making change happen in their communities.”
The news comes as the Co-op has become the first retailer to sign up to the Mayor of London’s Women’s Night Safety Charter.