The group of five young women from Rochdale are leading the charge for change in their community thanks to the skills they’ve gained through our Youth Co-operative Action Programme.

The Rochdale branch of the project, delivered by us in partnership with Greater Manchester Youth Network, has seen all those taking part identify child poverty as an issue in their community that resonated with them.

What are the levels of child poverty in the UK?

According to research by the Child Poverty Action Group in 2018-19, 4.2 million children were living in poverty in the UK, which is 30 per cent of children. All the young women on the project felt that this was an issue that they wanted to address as part of their social action and put together a plan to raise awareness of the shocking statistic. 

What did the young women do?

Working together, the young women, many of whom study in Rochdale at Falinge Park High School and are aged between 12 and 18, created a celebration event online inviting members of the public along to learn more about child poverty. The event also featured an interview with local MP Tony Lloyd, with Farah Khan, one of the young women, posing the questions.

Through taking part in the scheme, all those involved have learnt new skills, met new people and had a huge amount of fun. Focused on team work and problem solving, participants have come together virtually during lockdown at a time when it’s never been more easy to feel isolated and alone, as emphasised by the project’s hashtag #TogetherNotAlone.

How is this cohort of Youth Co-operative Action funded?

The scheme, delivered in Towns and Cities across England and supported by a £170,000 grant from the Co-op Foundation’s #iwill Fund, focuses on youth activism, inspiring a new generation of young people to use co-operative values and principles to make a change where they live. Each cohort is encouraged to think differently to solve problems in their community and understand the real power of their voice.

Empowered with the skills, knowledge and platform to tell their story, they work together to inspire real, meaningful change. We asked two of the young women who took part in the scheme to tell us what they thought and the difference it had made for them.

The project has given me the platform and the opportunity to challenge the various issues surrounding child poverty and the stigma around child poverty. It’s helped me understand that challenging issues is necessary and that it needs to be done. It has also given me the confidence to challenge these issues.

Farah Khan (17)

The project has changed my life and the way I see the world by educating me more. Before I started going to school, the people who were part of the project were the only people I would see other than the people I live with. It helped me stop feeling lonely and sometimes it would be the highlight of my week.

Marium (15)

We also asked Daniel, our UK Project Development Manager, to tell us about the change he'd seen in all those who'd taken part

Their work to raise awareness of child poverty in Rochdale and the UK, at a time when this has never been more crucial or challenging, is truly inspiring and a testament to their strength and courage. Watching them all grow in knowledge and confidence over the course of the project has been a privilege, and I know their work and passion will set an example to young people everywhere that they have the power to change their world.

and we spoke to Sarah Boyle, Pupil Leadership Co-ordinator at the girl's school.

The young people see the value in collaborative community work and want to use their new skills to enact real change in their community. As a group, they are already looking for ways to continue their work, including developing our school’s work with Citizens UK and other local organisations. It’s been a genuine privilege working with the College and watching as these young women grow in confidence, resilience and social responsibility. I am really excited to see what change the next project creates!

We want to take Youth Co-operative Action to many more communities across the UK and around the world, but we can't do that without your support.

Donate today and together let's inspire a new generation of young people to fight for change.

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