A new partnership between Co-op and UK Youth will see young people in Scotland and Northern Ireland be given opportunities to make a difference through social action in local communities through the #iwill movement. The #iwill movement is a collaboration of over 1,000 organisations and 700 young #iwill Ambassadors & Champions from across the UK, supported by charities UK Youth and Volunteering Matters.

Co-op is partnering with UK Youth to grow the #IWillScotland and the #iwill movement in Northern Ireland, working with YouthLink Scotland and Volunteer Now in Northern Ireland. The £250,000 investment from Co-op, funded by Co-op Members through the Co-op Community Partnerships Fund, will be used to recruit , train and support new #iwill Ambassadors across the nations. The 10-25 year-olds will work together to make a difference in their communities through social action. 

Ambassadors will receive training and mentoring, supporting them to drive change at a local, national and UK-wide level. In addition, 150 new #iwill Champions will be recruited, who will help spread the word and develop their own social action initiatives. More than 2,000 young people in Scotland and Northern Ireland will benefit from Co-op’s investment in #iwill.

Social action can have a life changing impact on young people and their communities, helping them develop essential personal and social skills such as self-confidence, resilience, leadership and motivation. Research1 has shown that 77% of young people say volunteering has improved their mental health and 84% said it increased their confidence.

Rebecca Birkbeck, Director of Community and Membership at Co-op, said: “Creating fairer opportunities for young people to take action on the issues they care about is crucial in empowering them to make a real difference in local communities throughout Scotland and Northern Ireland.

We are delighted to be partnering with UK Youth to grow the #iwill movement so that even more young people can access support and make positive change, whether that’s supporting fairer access to food, improving mental wellbeing services, or creating even more opportunities for young people to get involved in their communities.”

“Volunteer Now is delighted to have the support of the Co-op to develop a peer network of young people who are taking action in their communities” says Denise Hayward, CEO.  “We know that peer encouragement to become involved in social action is important for young people.  We also know that volunteering and social action makes a difference to the lives of others and themselves. Our present ambassadors are a diverse range of amazing young people and we look forward to supporting more ambassadors and champions within Northern Ireland and witnessing the positive change that they will make through the Co-op’s support.”

I’m thrilled with the support of the Co-op! As one of the 1st #iwill ambassadors in NI I know how important it is to have peer support, to be part of something local but also to have the network and opportunities that come from being part of a UK movement. I’m looking forward to volunteering alongside the local Co-op branches and being part of the journey for the year ahead.” said Tim Hancock, #iwill ambassador, Northern Ireland

Cian Gullen, Co-Chair of the Scottish #IWill Advisory Group & 2016 #IWill Scotland Ambassador commented: “This funding from Co-op is so valuable to the #IWill movement in Scotland. It really helps us, as young #IWill Ambassadors, to grow the #PowerOfYouth across the nation and reach even more young people who want to create change in their communities.” 

Tim Frew, CEO, YouthLink Scotland commented: “We are delighted with this new funding from Co-op and to work alongside UK Youth and our partners in Northern Ireland and Scotland on this exciting new chapter for #iwill. “It’s vital we do all we can to channel the talent and energy of our young people, and encouraging them to volunteer is a great way to do this. Not only does it benefit their local communities, it empowers young people to make lasting change in their lives and the lives of others and develop skills for life.”

We’re looking for young changemakers to join the #IWill movement. If you are aged between 12 – 25 and have a passion for making a difference, we want to hear from you! #IWill Ambassador recruitment is open until the 17th July 2022. Find out more and apply here: https://iwill.org.uk/were-recruiting-iwill-ambassadors