A PROJECT that aims to tackle the important issue of youth loneliness in Bradford has been awarded a grant of almost £80,000 to expand its work in the district.

Thanks to the grant, which has been provided by the Co-op Foundation, the charitable arm of The Co-operative, the Bradford based YMCA will be able to extend its Shaping Spaces project.

It has been handed £79,969 for the project, which will allow it to run a steering group of young people aged between 16 and 25 from its Culture Fusion building base in Thornton Road, Goitside.

The young people in the steering group are not in education, employment or training, and the YMCA work with them to create, pilot and then run the extended project.

It is expected to offer small group sessions such as physical activity in greenspaces, ‘green exercise’, horticulture activities including gardening and tree planting, and community social action projects.

The money has been awarded by the Co-op from the £2 million youth strand of its Building Connections Fund, a partnership between the foundation and the government.

The wider Building Connections Fund offers £11.5 million to support more than 120 organisations to increase social connections and create a sense of community and belonging, funded by the Big Lottery Fund

Leanne Ashworth, senior manager at the YMCA, said the charity is “delighted” to receive the funding.

She said: “Young people aged 16 to 24 are some of the loneliest in society.

“We are delighted to have been awarded funding to extend our Shaping Spaces project to provide activities to increase young people’s sense of belonging to their community, improve confidence, develop new skills and reduce loneliness.

“The project will be designed by a steering group of young people who will not only develop a programme of green activities to support other young people but will also contribute to the youth sectors understanding of loneliness.”

Jamie Ward-Smith, chair of the Co-op Foundation said: “By partnering with government on the youth strand of the Building Connections Fund, Co-op Foundation is supporting groups of young people most affected by loneliness to strengthen their connections and sense of belonging, and build their confidence and skills.

“We look forward to working with all our partners over the coming years, helping them to tackle youth loneliness at a community level and boosting our joint understanding of loneliness.”

YMCA Bradford is one of 22 organisations to receive grants from the fund, which aims to support young people in the country’s most deprived areas, or specific circumstances that increase the risk of loneliness.

Mims Davies, Minister for Loneliness, added: “There is no one cause of loneliness and therefore no one solution.

“That is why we are working alongside a broad range of businesses, voluntary organisations and local councils to ensure that those who feel alone are best supported.

“From new digital communities, to sports classes that bring people together, this fund will go a long way to achieving that goal.

“I am committed to encouraging open conversations around this sensitive topic to reduce the stigma and create an environment where everyone is better connected.”