Young people at Projeks skate park

This week has seen our Youth Co-operative Action project get underway in Bury and Rochdale, having successfully launched in Oldham and Manchester last year. We caught up with Aaliyah, Grace, Joe and Jacob to hear the impact that the project has had on them and the difference it's made.

Meeting new people and giving back

Meeting new people was a theme that all the young people kept referring back to as being a huge benefit of taking part in the project, "Meeting new people and looking forward to doing something every single week have been the best bits," Grace explained. "I feel like i'm giving back, which was one of the main reasons I wanted to do the project in the first place."

Young person from our Youth Co-operative Action project

It's this theme of community that also crops up repeatedly during our chat, with Jacob stating just how important it is for him too, "Doing something for the community has been great, as well as going on the visits to see different social enterprises and the work they do in their local area."

Aaliyah highlights how great it's been to chat about issues that matter to them too, "The most enjoyable part for me has been during meetings, when there’ve been debates on loads of different issues and we can hear lots of different ideas and opinions."

It's obvious from our chat just how passionate these young people are about their communities and having their voices heard - a sharp contrast to what's often read about in the media.

Skills for life

It's clear from our time together that all the young people think their skills have improved, particularly confidence, "I’m definitely a lot more confident now than I was before taking part in the project." Says Grace, "Before, I wouldn’t really talk to people and I’d be quite quiet, but now I’m more confident of going up to people and making new friends."

Young people from our Youth Co-operative Action project laughing

It's something that Aaliyah references too, along with her communication skills, "I think I’m more confident now than I was before the project. I get a lot more involved in discussions and definitely want to participate more. I think my communication has improved with other people too. I didn’t know most of the people on the project beforehand, but now I’m more comfortable talking to people I don’t know. I feel like we’ve all become friends which is great."

I think the best bit has been making loads of new friends. It’s a really nice, comfortable space to be in. Working together has made things less individual and less lonely, which has been really great too.


Loneliness and taking action

The conversation turns to loneliness, which has been the core issue that the project has looked to tackle. All the young people say how much more they know about it now, and in some cases, how their assumptions at the start had been incorrect.

"I thought that loneliness was mainly to do with elderly people who might be lonely, but I now know it’s young people too." Says Jacob, "I have a few experiences with it myself, but I thought I was definitely in the minority. Having done the project, I now realise that I’m not and that other people are definitely in the same situation."

This was a belief shared by Aaliyah too who said, "I definitely know more about loneliness now, particularly about young people and how it impacts them. I always thought loneliness just affected the older generation, but I know now that’s not true."

Young person from our Youth Co-operative Action Project

As the conversation moves to a close, the chat turns to what advice they'd give to someone who is feeling lonely. "I’d tell them to try get involved in something like this project. You’ll meet like minded individuals and you’ll probably find someone there that you can relate to" says Joe, "Sometimes you have to make the effort to try, rather than waiting for something to happen to you. Making the first move yourself can be all that’s needed. It’s important to remember that you’re not alone and won’t be the only one feeling like that too."

The theme of reaching out is something that Grace talks about too, "It’s important to not shy away and cut yourself off – try be approachable and sociable as you can. Most important of all, make sure you’re telling someone about how you feel. You shouldn’t keep it all to yourself."

Making a real difference

Finally, we chat about what they'd all say to other young people thinking of taking part in the project. It's Joe who perhaps sums things up best saying, "i'd tell them to go for it. It's a great experience - you'll have lots of fun and learn new skills. You won't regret it - I've enjoyed every moment and wish it didn't have to come to the end."

Are you or someone you know interested in being part of our Youth Co-operative Action project? Click the button below for more information, including where the project is taking place and how you can sign up.

Youth Co-operative Action