5 February 2019

YMCA Exeter is set to work with young people to design innovative new ways to tackle youth loneliness after being awarded £19,500 from the Building Connections Fund Youth strand.

The local Christian charity, which runs from St David’s Hill, will work with young people to help make their existing community hub more accessible as well as run a pop-up enterprise in March where young people can build connections and tackle loneliness.  

The project is set to be completed in the Spring, at which point YMCA Exeter residents will have run consultations with other service users as well as designed the refurbishment with a local interior designer and run a pop-up enterprise for the third time in the past year.

Funding is being delivered by the Co-op Foundation as part of the Building Connections Fund Youth strand, a partnership with government.

YMCA Exeter is one of 145 projects that has received funding.

Gareth Sorsby, Joint CEO at YMCA Exeter, said:

“We are thrilled to receive this support from the Building Connections Fund.

Loneliness in young people is reaching crisis point as more and more time is spent isolated in rooms feeling connected through social media, yet lacking any true human interaction.

This funding will aid our young people to combat loneliness through joining together with staff, volunteers and the business community, co-designing a fun and exciting pop-up enterprise experience as well as a newly refurbished community hub.

This experience will help to introduce new social and professional connections which were not previously available and aims to achieve a sense of group achievement and togetherness.”

Jim Cooke, Head of the Co-op Foundation, said:

“Spaces where young people can come together to enjoy shared interests are important for building connections and tackling youth loneliness. By involving young people in improving local spaces, we’re helping to increase their confidence and skills, while also building stronger, co-operative communities. We look forward to seeing the impact this funding has tackling youth loneliness across England.

The Building Connections Fund is a partnership between government, Co-op Foundation the Big Lottery Fund to tackle loneliness and improve community connections. Co-op Foundation is delivering grants for all projects supported through the youth-specific strand.

This builds on funding awarded to more than 120 projects in December that included befriending services, community arts groups and support schemes.”

For more information about the the Co-op Foundation, visit www.coopfoundation.org.uk.

For details on the project please visit www.ymcaexeter.org.uk/i-need-support/find-a-job/.