YOUNG people from Oldham have been having their say about the best ways to tackle youth loneliness in their community.

Forty-five 12-18 year olds have been working with Positive Steps, based in Oldham, to come up with new ways to help young people feel less lonely since January.

It has been supported with a £10,000 grant from the Building Connections Fund Youth strand, a partnership between Co-op Foundation and government.

Work will include:

• To successfully recruit, train and support an Apprentice Youth Engagement Worker with lived experience of services in Oldham.

• To support the apprentice to carry out consultation to help us to understand a range of young peoples’ views on questions such as: What does social isolation look like for young people in Oldham? What causes this? What can help overcome it? What can young people do themselves? How can professionals help?

• For the Apprentice Youth Engagement Worker to test peer mentoring approaches around social isolation and loneliness by mentoring a range of young people over a 12-month period.

• To present findings from the project back to young people, decision-makers and frontline professionals as part of a Youth Isolation event.

Rina Dabhi, of Positive Steps, said: “The experience of young people who feel lonely or socially isolated has not been extensively researched and while many projects do address social isolation and loneliness indirectly, they do not measure or report on this specifically.

“Our project’s focus is to understand the experiences of young people in Oldham and for this to help us to develop our working practices with young people around social isolation and loneliness.”

Positive Steps has recruited Casey Devine, a young person with experiences of services in Oldham, to lead its project and to capture the voices of local young people.

Casey will be spending much of the next few months meeting with individuals and groups to understand social isolation and loneliness from a young person’s perspective.

Rina continued: “By having a young person leading this project we hope to not only have created a valuable employment opportunity but to successfully engage more isolated and marginalized young people who may not be accessing opportunities in their communities at the moment.”

Positive Steps was one of 144 projects supported with grants through the Building Connections Fund Youth strand in January.

The youth strand is part of a wider £11.5 million partnership between Co-op Foundation, government and the National Lottery Community Fund. Co-op Foundation is delivering grants for all projects supported through the youth-specific strand.

Jim Cooke, head of the Co-op Foundation, said: “Youth organisations are a vital line of defence in tackling loneliness, but young people often find it hard to talk openly about this issue.

“The work we have supported through the Building Connections Fund Youth strand will lead to long-term improvements in the local services and spaces young people use. Just as importantly, by starting conversations about youth loneliness, we hope it will help to raise awareness of this issue and reduce stigma.”

The Co-op Foundation is the UK’s leading charity tackling youth loneliness. Learning from projects supported by the Building Connections Fund Youth strand will be shared nationally to improve understanding of what works to best to beat youth loneliness.

For more information on the Co-op Foundation, visit

For more information on Building Connections - Youth Social Isolation Project, visit