In April this year, we launched connect:create, a partnership with Deutsche Bank. Via the programme, we’ve been able to work with over 120 young people: pupils with autism in west London, and young carers in Birmingham, Lambeth, Merton and Wandsworth.
Deutsche Bank’s Head of Corporate Social Responsibility UK, Nicole Lovett, explained: “Through Born to Be, our youth engagement programme, we are committed to driving social mobility. The World Economic Forum predicts that by 2020 creativity will be the third most important skill in the jobs market. The connect:create programme plays a vital role in developing key skills, like creativity, so those most in need improve their life chances.”
The young people who’ve taken part in the programme have explored artforms from spoken word poetry to life-size self-portraits; and collaborated creatively to choreograph dances and write songs. For young people whose opportunities to express themselves, build confidence and make friends can be limited because of autism or caring responsibilities, the chance to learn a new skill and share creative ideas with peers can be truly empowering. Thanks to Deutsche Bank, the young people who took part in connect:create have had access to the benefits of creativity through workshops run by our professional artists and we’re delighted that, after a fantastic first year, Deutsche Bank has renewed funding for connect:create for a further two years. We’re also delighted to have won two days ago Children & Young People Now Highly Commended Awards recognising our work with two areas that Deutsche Bank are supporting: young carers and young people with disabilities.
Adam (not his real name), 15, a young carer who took part in connect:create, told us about his experiences during our animation workshops: “During the animation project we started from scratch, got materials together, and worked together to make an animation. Animation looks easy but it takes time, you can’t just do it first time round, you have to keep trying. When we’d finished the animation, I felt surprised that just from putting some materials on paper you can make a film. You work as a group and make what you want to make. At times I can be moody and only join in when I want to but this project has shown me that I should join in all the time.”
Andrew Nowak is Deputy Head of Queensmill School in west London, a specialist school for children and young people diagnosed with autism which partnered with us during connect:create. Like Nicole, Andrew says that creativity is essential for the development of key skills:
“The work Create is doing today is valuable because we’re talking about young people who have significant challenges in terms of imagination, creative thought and working with others. Projects where we’re challenging the young people to work creatively, to work with their peers, to come up with new ideas outside their areas of interest, play a significant role in their education. I don’t think you can underestimate how difficult the young people here find it at times to work collaboratively, to work creatively, so any project where we’ve got people who want to provide support in developing those skills is of vital importance.
“One thing we do know about autism is that lots of skills that are perhaps inherent in other people we have to teach, so by doing projects like this we are teaching the young people to be creative, to use their imagination. The hope is when they come up against challenge they can reflect on those experiences and think about how they can succeed. This project will serve as a reference point for the young people, so at times when we are challenging them to think creatively or when we are asking them to work together, we can say: ‘think back to that time when you did that Create project, think about the skills you used, how did you approach it?’
“The project is also getting them to think about things they wouldn’t otherwise think about. With young people with additional needs you can fall into a trap of having quite a narrow curriculum and being really focussed on core skills, but they need to learn about everything and understand the world.”
We also won the FSI Small Charity Big Impact award earlier in the year, one of the prizes for which was a film, which we chose to focus on our Deutsche Bank project with Queensmill School. You can watch this here.