£8.79 million of social value has been delivered in the South East to give young people an opportunities to create better places to live.

Housing association Sovereign Network Group's (SNG) inaugural #iwill Fund programme operated as a match funding partner for the national #iwill Fund established by the National Lottery Community Fund and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Various community-driven projects benefited from this fund, including community cafes, gardens, local environmental initiatives, school holiday schemes, as well as food and catering projects targeting the broader community.

Local organisations involved in fabricating these community projects received grants of up to £10,000.

From its initiation in September 2022, SNG's #iwill Fund has endowed 24 organisations across South and South-West England with a total exceeding £207,000, dispersed over two stages.

96 per cent of youth participants voiced intentions to continue their societal contributions even after the project's completion.

242 young people reported having made a positive impact within their communities, and 224 said they liked living in their communities more post their involvement.

The programme also enabled 289 people to learn new skills, whilst 535 obtained accreditations and achieved training goals.

The #iwill Fund project manager at SNG, Eden-Marie Jolliffe, said: "There’s evidence that the younger people get involved with social action, the more likely they are to carry on into adulthood and so it is great to hear that nearly all of those who took part in the SNG #iwill Fund 1.0 plan to continue with youth social action.

"The result of our work with partners and our investment in the fund is clear; when we come together, we can make a big difference."

SNG is now progressing these youth-driven actions further through their successive SNG #iwill 2.0, named the Wellbeing Champions Programme.

This three-year, £1 million scheme concentrates on mental health and wellbeing, with 16 community organisations receiving a share from an initial £150,000 funding round.

Matt Buckham, community investment director at SNG, added: "We’ve set a vision in our new corporate plan of thriving communities, over generations and this is vital as it underlines how we as an organisation take a very long-term view.

"Over the next ten years, SNG will be investing £100 million in our communities which will be used to empower people who live there and increase our social impact."

The national #iwill Fund was started with a £66 million joint investment by the National Lottery Community Fund and the Department for Culture, Media and Sports to support and foster high-quality social action opportunities amongst youngsters.