Big changes start locally

Virgin Money Foundation Launches #iwill Take Action Fund for the North East

The Key


  • The Virgin Money Foundation and the Big Lottery Fund have each invested £850,000
  • First grants totalling £743,000 have been awarded to five charities across the North East

A new fund to support young people from across the North East to engage with their local communities has been launched with £1.7 million committed by The Virgin Money Foundation and the Big Lottery Fund.

The new #iwill Take Action Fund is a three-year social action programme to increase the number of opportunities for 10-20 year olds in the region to volunteer and fundraise for, or campaign on, issues that are important to them. This will enable young people to be enthusiastic, engaged and committed members of their local communities, giving them the opportunity to play a part in tackling the challenges society faces.

Nancy Doyle, Executive Director of The Virgin Money Foundation said:

“The Virgin Money Foundation aims to ask people ‘what do you see for your local community?’ and then provide resources and support to make their vision a reality. As an #iwill match-funder, we will seek to ensure that young people across the North East have a voice and an opportunity to work together and drive positive change in their communities."

Gemma Bull, England Director, Big Lottery Fund said:

“This new partnership with The Virgin Money Foundation, as part of the #iwill fund, provides an exciting opportunity to support young people to develop their skills and confidence. Thanks to National Lottery players we’re able to work with partners and their networks to reach more young people, enabling them to take the lead in creating new social action opportunities that benefit themselves and their local communities.”

First awards

BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art Gateshead £150,000
Groundwork North East and Cumbria North East £148,950
Middlesbrough Football Club Foundation Tees Valley £150,000
The Key North East £148,214
Youth Focus North East North East £146,097

Creating Change

Creating Change is a three-year programme from BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art which will embed social action in three Gateshead secondary schools. It will work with young people on projects exploring cultural identity, young people’s voices and their rights and community identity.

Vicky Sturrs, Head of Learning & Civic Engagement at BALTIC said:

“BALTIC is thrilled to be working with The Virgin Money Foundation as part of the #iwill campaign. Our new Creating Change project will empower 2,000 young people to use contemporary art to make social change and connect with their communities creating a legacy of skilled young people who continue to volunteer to help others in years to come.“

Middlesbrough Football Club Foundation

Middlesbrough Football Club Foundation’s #TeamBoro will support young people through a three stage social action programme with a focus on health and well-being. Young people will be recruited as Ambassadors who will support other young people coming through the programme.

Helena Bowman, Head of Foundation at Middlesbrough Football Club Foundation said:

“MFC Foundation are delighted to be partnering with The Virgin Money Foundation. The grant will ensure that we can raise aspirations of local young people and support them to become more active citizens who will make positive changes to the lives of local communities in Teesside.”

Youth Focus North East

Youth Focus North East’s You + Us programme will deliver 50 local challenges in 50 local communities, enabling young people across the North East to take action on local issues, working alongside other members of the community.

Leon Mexter from Youth Focus North East said:

"Everyone at Youth Focus North East is absolutely delighted that we have been chosen as one of the partners for The Virgin Money Foundation #iwill Take Action Fund. Young people engaging in volunteering and social action has been at the core of our work for many years, and we are really excited by the opportunities that the #iwill Take Action Fund will create. By being chosen as a partner, we will be able to support young and older people across our region to create a lasting impact in 50 communities with 50 local challenge projects. Each Challenge will involve young people in volunteering and social action that will make a real and lasting difference to our region."


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About Virgin Money Foundation

  • The Virgin Money Foundation launched in August 2015 as an independent charitable foundation focused initially on community projects in the North-East of England, and growing to operate nationally over time.
  • It promotes the sustainable regeneration of economically and socially deprived communities in the UK. This includes providing investment in community housing and building projects, promoting opportunities for youth work and training, as well as investing in projects designed to relieve unemployment.
  • The entire running costs of The Virgin Money Foundation are met by Virgin Money; as such, 100% of donations – including £8 million over 4 years contributed by Virgin Money, the Cabinet Office and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport – will go towards helping the Foundation to achieve its charitable objectives.

#iwill fund

  • The Government (DCMS) and Big Lottery Fund have each invested £20 million in to the #iwill Fund which will help to transform the culture of community engagement by getting young people involved in greater social action opportunities.
  • Over four years the fund will be developed through investment and match funding from Trusts and Foundations, businesses and philanthropists.
  • This innovative fund, bringing together a coalition of investors, aims to create the conditions to embed meaningful social action into the lives of every young person.

#iwill campaign

  • The #iwill campaign is being coordinated by the charity Step Up To Serve (Charity No.1154588). It was launched in 2013 after Government research into how the business, education, public and voluntary sectors could support young people to engage in social action (campaigning, fundraising and volunteering) between the ages of 10 and 20.
  • HRH The Prince of Wales is Patron of Step Up To Serve and the #iwill campaign. To date more than 600 organisations from across UK society have pledged to support the campaign goal of enabling more than 60% of 10-20 year-olds to participate in social action.

Big Lottery Fund

  • The Big Lottery Fund is the largest funder of community activity in the UK. We put people in the lead to improve their lives and communities, often through small, local projects.
  • We are responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by National Lottery players for good causes. In 2016/17 we awarded £712.7 million and supported more than 13,814 projects across the UK for health, education, environment and charitable purposes.
  • Since June 2004 we have awarded £8.5 billion to projects that change the lives of millions of people.
  • For more information and contact details please visit

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