Co-op Foundation #iwill grant to enable charity to bridge wellbeing gap for boys

UK children’s charity, the Youth Sport Trust, has received a grant of more than £63,300 from Co-op’s charity, the Co-op Foundation.

It comes with just over a week to go until Place2Be's Children's Mental Health Week. The charity will use the funding to deliver ‘Team Us’ from April this year.

The project has been designed to improve the wellbeing of disadvantaged boys aged 11 to 13 (years 6 to 8) in inner city Leeds whose wellbeing has been severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and will use the charity's Active in Mind lessons.  

Transition into secondary school is even more challenging than usual for young people, but the programme has hopes to change this. Boys in primary school will be paired up with secondary peer leaders, who will be trained in how to use sport and physical activity to build meaningful relationships and create a ‘team’ ethos. These relationships will enable older pupils to share their experiences of school transition and how they deal with the challenges of Covid-19 to reduce anxieties of those currently going through the experience.  

Team Us will engage 980 young people over two years using Active in Mind's psycho-social tools and stress-busting strategies as well as creating innovative peer mentoring and physical activity opportunities. The Co-op Foundation awarded the grant as part of a £3 million extension to its #iwill Fund, designed to empower young people to improve spaces, wellbeing and skills.  

Rebecca D’Arcy, development manager for West Yorkshire, Humber and Lincolnshire at the Youth Sport Trust, said:  

It has been an extraordinarily difficult year for young people who have seen such huge disruption to their lives and education. We are excited to begin work on this programme with seven schools across Leeds and are grateful to be given the opportunity by the Co-op Foundation. Team Us is going to make such a difference to young people in helping them to transition between schools smoothly, form strong bonds and feel part of the community.

Some of the schools engaged in the programme are listed below: 

  • Abbey Grange 
  • Cockburn John Charles 
  • Coop Academy Leeds  
  • Morley Academy
  • Allerton High

The #iwill Fund is a £50 million joint investment from the National Lottery Community Fund, using National Lottery funding, and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to support young people to access high quality social action opportunities. The Co-op Foundation acts as a match funder.  Co-op Foundation has already awarded over £2 million in grants since it first partnered with the #iwill Fund in 2017. 

Jamie Ward-Smith, Chair of the Co-op Foundation, said:  

Our partnership with the #iwill Fund  has shown the positive impact young people can have when they have the power to take action on issues they care about. Life transitions, like moving schools, can be a lonely and unsettling time for young people. Grants announced will allow young people to improve their wellbeing as they move schools, while offering an opportunity to take action to help others.

The Co-op Foundation will launch further #iwill Fund grants in 2021. Co-op Foundation is the Co-op's charity. It helps people challenge inequality and co-operate for change so they can share a fairer future.  

For more information on the Youth Sport Trust and how it is supporting schools and families through the pandemic, please visit  

Published on 21 January 2021