Youth-led advocacy to improve community spaces

Young Citizens has been successful in its application to the Co-op Foundation #iwill fund* to support primary schools to focus on improving their local community spaces.

Using our established Make a Difference Challenge programme we will work with 16 primary schools from Leeds and Kirklees over the next two terms to empower pupils to ‘make a difference’ to a space in their local community. The challenge will be to make the space more welcoming, particularly for other children. This could involve fundraising (e.g. raising funds to develop the space), practical actions (e.g. painting a mural on an underpass) or raising awareness (e.g. writing to the local newspaper about dog fouling in the park), or a combination of all three. Each school will be provided with a small grant to help them kick-start the process.

We will start recruiting schools in early December. In March 2020 teachers will participate in a CPD-certified face-to-face training day during that they’ll explore how to help their pupils consider what the elements of a good community space are, and how to empower their pupils to lead on a structured social action project during the summer term. The pupils will be invited to share their achievements at a celebration event in July.

By the end of the project we will produce a comprehensive practice-based resource for all primary schools in England – aimed to enable thousands of pupils to take practical action to improve their local community spaces.

Empowerment is at the heart of the programme. The children will be actively and meaningfully involved throughout: from exploring local public places they are familiar with, considering what they like/dislike about them, to identifying the community space they want to improve, deciding on the best course of action to improve it, being involved in making the improvement happen and, finally, celebrating/ evaluating their achievements.

“We are excited to be working with the Co-op Foundation to support even more young people to lead change in their community.” – Yvonne Richards, Director of Programmes and Learning, Young Citizens

Suggested next steps:

  • If you are a primary school in Leeds interested in taking part click here.
  • If you are a primary school in Dewsbury or Batley and interested in taking part click here.
  • Not in either of these areas but interested in taking part in the Make a Difference Challenge programme? Click here.
  • Read inspirational case studies by schools who have been involved in ‘Make a Difference Challenge’.


  • The #iwill Fund is made possible thanks to £40 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 is acting as a match funder and awarding grants on behalf of the #iwill Fund.
  • The #iwill Fund brings together a group of organisations who all contribute funding to embed meaningful social action into the lives of young people.
  • Social action involves activities such as campaigning, fundraising and volunteering, all of which enable young people to make a positive difference in their communities as well as develop their own skills and knowledge.
  • The #iwill Fund supports the aims of the #iwill campaign – to make involvement in social action a part of life for young people, by recognising the benefit for both young people and their communities.
  • By bringing together funders from across different sectors and by making sure that young people have a say in where the funding goes – the #iwill Fund is taking a collaborative approach.