Big changes start locally

Virgin Money Foundation tops £1.7m in Grants through #iwill Take Action Fund

Members of Families First’s Youth Action Panel


  • Virgin Money Foundation’s #iwill take Action Fund has helped over 1,500 young people to make positive change happen in their community
  • Young people are taking a lead on projects from Northumberland to the Tees Valley and across to Wearside

The Virgin Money Foundation has announced the final round of grants from its #iwill Take Action Fund, awarding £196,384 to nine North East charities. This takes the total awarded through this fund to £1.7 million.

The National Lottery Community Fund and the Department of Culture, Media & Sport are each investing £20 million seed funding to create the #iwill Fund. Virgin Money Foundation is acting as a match funder and awarding grants on behalf of the #iwill Fund.

One of the grant recipients is Streetwise Young People’s Project, a regional charity based in central Newcastle who provide a range of free, specialist wellbeing and mental health services for young people aged 11 to 25.

The #iwill Take Action grant will support the recently launched M Card to expand and develop allowing young women access to free sanitary products and advice on periods. The M Card is the brainchild of Youthwise, the group of young people who help lead Streetwise. They will recruit more volunteers, organise workshops and work with Brash Theatre to create a period poverty performance which will be filmed and made available for schools to use in Personal, Social, Health and Economic education.

Donna and Imogen, young people who attend Youthwise said:

“We felt ecstatic and proud when we heard about the funding award, it’s amazing that Virgin Money Foundation is taking us seriously and is on board with our ideas. We are grateful to have an opportunity to help more people. This funding is so important because it's helping to counteract inequality and we are determined to grow Project M now we have the backing to take it further.”

The other charities receiving a grant include Tyneside Outdoors, Equal Arts, Unfolding Theatre, Hartlepool United Community Sports Foundation, Darlington Mind, Aspire to Believe, The Key and Families First North East.

Families First North East is a charity based in Hartlepool, working mainly with young people who have special or additional needs. The #iwill Take Action award will support their ‘Diffability’ project; a Kite Mark designed by Families First youth panel. The young people will train local businesses and leisure services to better serve and support people with disabilities and additional needs. The training will be followed by an audit carried out by the young people. If they pass, the organisation will be awarded the Diffability Kite Mark.

Lisa Wilson, Business Development Officer at Families First said:

“Our project is a celebration of different abilities. Thanks to the #iwill funding, young people in Hartlepool will challenge misconceptions of people with additional needs. Over the next 12 months Families First North East’s Youth Action Panel will create a standard and kite mark called Diffability that we will award to services who demonstrate how well they support all members of the community.

Our children and young people have lead this project from day one, they will have a voice to help shape their future. While delivering the project young people will also receive expert training and real life experiences to improve their employability. We’re all really excited about the project and the positive impact it’s going to make.”

Rosie, a member of Families First's Youth Action Panel said:

“I have a hidden disability and as a result I have had bad experiences in local shops but there is no excuse for being so rude. I believe you should always be kind to people, don’t judge anyone, you don’t know what’s going on in their life. Be nice!”

Nancy Doyle-Hall, Virgin Money Foundation’s Executive Director said:

“Young people have a distinct role to play in our communities, they have views, talents, time and tenacity. Youth social action taps into this. It makes their voices heard and ensures their concerns are addressed by giving them a leading role. It enables them to shape their community, their society and their world. We have been overwhelmed by the ambition and dedication shown by young people, including our own Youth Advisory Panel who have helped us to make decisions on which applications to progress.”


Full list of awards through the last set of #iwill Take Action Funding below.

Latest awards

Families First Hartlepool £24,516
Equal Arts North East £29,560
Hartlepool United Community Sports Foundation Hartlepool £8,000
Unfolding Theatre Middlesbrough £8,000
Darlington Mind Darlington £33,365
Tyneside Outdoors South Tyneside £19,514
Aspire to Believe CIC Redcar and Cleveland £18,000
The Key/Gabriel Brown Changemaker North East £16,275
Streetwise Young People’s project North East £39,154

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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 Foundation is funded through donations from Virgin Money (a wholly-owned subsidiary of CYBG Group), the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport and the National Lottery Community Fund. Virgin Money funds the majority of The Foundation’s running costs, which helps to ensure that 100% of donations go towards helping The Foundation to achieve its charitable objectives.

#iwill Fund

  • The #iwill Fund is made possible thanks to £40 million joint investment from The National Lottery Community Fund and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to support young people to access high quality social action opportunities.
  • The #iwill Fund brings together a group of organisations who all contribute funding to embed meaningful social action into the lives of young people.
  • 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.

#iwill campaign

  • The #iwill campaign is a collective effort involving over 900 partners from across the public, voluntary, education and business sectors with a vision to make meaningful social action part of life for 10- to 20-year olds, wherever they live and whatever their background.
  • The #iwill campaign was launched in 2013 with cross-party and multi-sector support after research into how the business, education, public and voluntary sectors could support young people to engage in social action. The campaign is coordinated by Step Up To Serve, a charity registered in England & Wales (no. 1154588).
  • HRH The Prince of Wales is Patron of Step Up To Serve and the #iwill campaign. For more information, visit

The National Lottery Community Fund

  • The National Lottery Community Fund the largest funder of community activity in the UK – awarding money raised by National Lottery players to communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Since June 2004, they have made over 200,000 grants and awarded over £9 billion to projects that have benefited millions of people.
  • The National Lottery Community Fund are passionate about funding great ideas that matter to communities and make a difference to people’s lives. At the heart of everything they do is the belief that when people are in the lead, communities thrive. Thanks to the support of National Lottery players, funding is open to everyone. National Lottery Community Fund are privileged to be able to work with the smallest of local groups right up to UK-wide charities, enabling people and communities to bring their ambitions to life.
  • For more information and contact details please visit

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

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