Author: mike

Food For Thought 2016

Food For Thought 2016
Food For Thought 2016


Food for Thought is our partnership project with Pret Foundation Trust. This provides monthly creative arts workshops for ex-offenders and homeless people on Pret’s Apprenticeship Scheme, enabling them to develop social skills and confidence as they prepare for permanent full-time employment. (This article is from 2016.)

Only 2% of homeless people are currently in full-time employment despite 77% expressing the desire to work.

Through our workshops, 60 apprentices each year have the opportunity to work with our professional artists. During 2015/15, they have been expressing themselves through Rosemary Harris’ and James Baldwin’s drama and writing workshops respectively, and channelling their musical energy with songwriter Aga Serugo-Lugo.

Kayley, an ex-offender, expressed how she felt the drama workshops had benefited her: “They give you a clean slate. I’ve proven myself because I know who I am now and I ended up getting a permanent job”. Have a read of some of the participants’ poems below as they explore feelings of isolation, frustration, denial and hope.


All I think about is the things I never said
All the conversations missed and pages never read.
If I wrote a book, would you look?
Maybe run away
Hot under the collar
Like a jumper on a summer day.
All these situations I can’t move past
All my dedication, isolation.


I can see the sky is blue
But my mind is stuck in grey scale
Not understanding, grasping, food for thought
Why are we fasting?
Time flies and we say it’s precious
Yet we waste so much
Procrastination is contagious
To feel is not to touch
The difference is similarity
Cloudiness is clarity, hot is cold
Young is old, selfishness is charity
You laugh when you’re mad at me.


The train by a fraction departed
My day was ruined before it had started
I can’t be late
I can’t translate
A journey once draught now slanted.


I wish I knew back then the person I would become
Wrong crowds invite misconceptions, so how can I blame you?
How can I show you your warped ideals
By harvesting the parade of my own greatness
Would you look? Would you care? Would you accept and understand?
Quake under this new friend knowledge?
Don’t be afraid of who you are.


I was young, I never had a chance to say goodbye.
See what I have become now
So I throw my fist and do a punch
I send down a wish from a place up above
I feel so empty but I dance my way through
Thick and thin when your good isn’t good enough
All that you touch tumbles down inside of me
And it hurts so bad I can hardly breathe
With a sharp knife for a short life
I’ve had just enough time
So I put on my best suit and play with my toys
What I never said was done
Fake face, fake eyes, I see everything in black
But deep down I feel colour
And that’s what he would have liked.

Matthew Bourne curtain raiser 2016

matthew bourne curtain raiser 2016
matthew bourne curtain raiser 2016


2016 has started in an astonishing way for 20 young carers (and therefore me!).

For the second year running, we have collaborated with our recently knighted Patron Sir Matthew Bourne OBE to bring these young carers from across London together to create and perform a Curtain Raiser. They spent six extraordinary days working alongside professional dancers Michela Meazza and Luke Murphy from Matthew’s New Adventures. During this time, they transformed into a dance company, choreographing their own five minute piece entitled Dreams, which opened last night’s showing of Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty at Sadler’s Wells.

It was amazing to see these young people, many of whom had never danced before, working as a dance troupe, building trusting relationships with other young carers and soaring in confidence: “I felt less shy and more able to take on the challenge by being the person I am.” All of them spend a significant amount of time caring for an unwell or disabled family member, with little time to consider their own personal ambitions. These caring responsibilities can last for more than 50 hours a week, longer than most full-time jobs.

matthew bourne curtain raiser 2016

One of the young carers, Shannan (15), told The Guardian that on a typical day when she was caring for her granddad she would feed him, sort his clothes, give him his insulin injection and take him to hospital for further treatment. She started caring for him when she was just nine years old. The amount of pressure and stress that carers face can affect their own mental and physical wellbeing; they often miss out on their education (“would you go to school if the person you loved most needed you at home?”); and they can struggle to build and maintain friendships. Being able to offer them an opportunity to express themselves, release tension and have time with likeminded peers is central to Create’s mission of improving the happiness and wellbeing of vulnerable people. As Shannan told me, “It has built my confidence, I have made new friends and I can now work in a team and share ideas.”

By the end of the six day residency, these young carers were true professionals, beaming with pride, holding their heads high and delivering an imaginative, moving, polished performance to a packed house at Sadler’s Wells, arguably the leading dance venue in the country.

matthew bourne curtain raiser 2016

As Rebecca, who also took part in 2015, commented, “Some professional dancers spend most of their lives working their way up to the top to be able to perform on the Sadler’s Wells stage and I have performed there with Create twice – before the age of 16!”

After the performance, our young dancers partnered with New Adventures dancers for a bucket collection, which raised an incredible £1,423. If you too would like to ensure that other young carers have access to opportunities like this, please support us.

I’m immensely proud of what these 20 exceptional young people were able to achieve within one week and hope that this experience will inspire them to continue pursuing their dreams.

Nicky Goulder, Founding Chief Executive

Read The Guardian’s article about the project.

Watch BBC London’s coverage of the story in their afternoon broadcast and evening broadcast.

matthew bourne curtain raiser 2016

Celebrating Diversity Southbank showcase

celebrating diversity 2015
celebrating diversity 2015


Over three harmonious months during the summer in 2015, we brought together children aged 5–10 from two primary schools in Westminster, to compose original songs based on the theme of friendship.

Under the guidance of our professional musician Hannah Dunster, children from Hallfield Primary School and St Vincent’s Catholic Primary School spent the first workshop playing musical icebreaker games, helping them to strike up friendships and improve their confidence. As the project progressed, they began contributing ideas for lyrics and melodies as a group, exploring their creative potential until they had written a collection of heart-warming compositions.

In July, the workshops culminated in two performances at Southbank Centre’s Festival of Love, in which the children sung their songs to rapturous applause from an audience of family members, friends, teachers and members of the public.

As part of our Celebrating Diversity programme, each workshop encouraged the children to think about friendship and the benefits of living in a diverse community. The project provided them with a creative outlet to express their feelings and emotions, and gave them the opportunity to learn from one another, develop self-confidence, and feel proud at what they had achieved as a group.

Aurora, one of the children who took part in the project told us:

“It was really fun because we got to make up songs. We started with a Hello Song and a Goodbye Song. We also played lots of games including A Night in the Museum and Barry the Beaver.

“My favourite parts of the project were meeting everyone, especially Create’s musician, and when we worked in groups to come up with our ideal friend. We made up a girl who liked ice skating.

celebrating diversity 2015

“I used to do drama at Sylvia Young on Saturdays where I learnt a bit of singing too, like high and low harmonies. Now I usually sing at home when I’m brushing my teeth or just before I go to sleep. It’s different singing with other people because you’re learning how to be friends at the same time. I’ve made loads of new friends on the project. When I was singing the harmonies I saw some people smiling at me so I think they liked what I was doing so I smiled back. I never knew I could write music. When I was about four years old, I start singing my own tunes but I couldn’t write them down because I couldn’t really write at that age. When I sing at home, I imagine singing in a concert. When my mum and dad are asleep I just sing in my head. My mum noticed that I liked singing so she signed me up to a choir and then this project with Create came up so it’s perfect really. Now I want to go to choir even more because I feel singing is my talent. I like dancing too by my mum says I’m better at singing.

“I’ve never sung somewhere like the Southbank Centre before so it’s a big opportunity for me. When I’m older I think I want to be a singer, an artist and a vet, and my friends and parents are supportive of that. When people cheer me on, it helps me to keep going.”

Many thanks to Strand Parishes Trust and Westminster Amalgamated Charity for funding the project.

This article is from 2015.

Mosimann’s Gala Dinner raises more than £41,000 for Create

mosimanns 2015
mosimanns 2015


On Thursday 15 October 2015, we celebrated Create’s 12th anniversary with an exclusive black tie Gala Dinner at Mosimann’s, Anton Mosimann’s stunning private dining club in Belgravia to raise vital funds for our work.

Following a Champagne reception, our supporters enjoyed a six-course dinner with wine, an auction by Colin Sheaf (Chairman of Bonhams UK) and a raffle. By auctioning and raffling exclusive lots and collector items, including a painting kindly donated by one of our Patrons, Royal Academician Ken Howard, we raised an amazing £41,204!

These funds will enable us to continue providing life changing creative programmes with vulnerable participants. Young carers will have the opportunity to access dance and drama workshops, children in hospitals and hospices will benefit from fun interactive music workshops, older people in carehomes will be able to create music and art together, and we will deliver many more creative arts workshops across the next year.

We would like to thank Mosimann’s for hosting the event, Colin Sheaf and his wife Annie for conducting the auction, and all those organisations and individuals who provided an item for the auction or raffle, bought a table, purchased raffle tickets, bid or made a donation. The proceeds of the Gala will enable us to make a real difference to the lives of some of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people in our society over the coming months.

mosimanns 2015

18 Koestler Awards for Create’s project with offenders

inside stories 2015
inside stories 2015


This year, Inside Stories, our creative project for young parents in prison, was recognised with 18 Koestler Awards.

These prestigious accolades are presented by Koestler Trust, an organisation dedicated to awarding, exhibiting and selling artworks by offenders, detainees and secure patients. This year, the Trust received over 8,500 pieces of writing, music, film, fine art and design from prisons across the country, making the achievements of our participants all the more impressive.

Our Inside Stories programme gives offenders aged 18-25 the opportunity to produce illustrated stories and music for their children. Working under the guidance of our professional writer, visual artist and musicians, they work in pairs to write, record and illustrate original stories before working as a group to set these to music. Following their performance in the prison during a special family visit, the children receive a copy of the professionally produced storybook and CD, helping to maintain the bond between parent and child.

The Ministry of Justice has found that sustaining family ties makes it easier for an offender to reintegrate into society and increases their chance of finding a job and stable accommodation once they are released.

One of our participants told us, “I wanted to do Inside Stories because it’s something that could help me feel close to my children. Because I’m in here, I don’t have as much time as I’d like with them. I thought that if they could hear my voice on the CD, maybe they can hear my voice at night time before they go to bed and know that Daddy’s still thinking about them.”

To celebrate these 18 incredible achievements, we are delighted to share The Hat Snatcher, a story written and illustrated by offenders. This was awarded the Gold Award for Mixed Media.

The Hat Snatcher

There was once a man called Peter who lived in the forest with his little boy Jimmy. Peter owned a hat shop, with hats of all shapes and sizes. Not far from them, there lived a bear called Barry. Jimmy and Barry were friends. One day, Jimmy visited Barry and noticed Barry’s hat collection.

Jimmy said, “Where did you get those hats from?”

Barry replied, “I found them scattered around the forest.”

“My dad has hats like those.”

“Does he want them back?”

“No, it’s fine Barry.”

When Jimmy got home, Peter was really angry because his hats had been stolen.

“Barry found lots of hats around the forest, dad.”

Peter replied, “I’ll teach that bear for stealing my hats!”

That night Jimmy was woken by a loud howl. He looked out of his window and noticed his dad had changed into a big, hairy wolf and had loads of hats in his teeth! He then ran into the forest dropping them everywhere! Peter returned with a hat on his head, he got into bed and little Jimmy said, “You’re the hat snatcher, not Barry! You need to say sorry.”

So off to Barry’s they went and partied into the night. Oh what a great sight!

Young carers create films and photographs at iconic old vinyl factory in Uxbridge



During summer 2015, we worked in partnership with Hillingdon Carers to give a group of young carers in Uxbridge the chance to take part in an inspiring film-making and photography project at EMI’s former site, the Old Vinyl Factory.

Drawing inspiration from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and other bands whose records were produced on-site, the young people reimagined themselves as rock stars complete with outfits provided by Hillingdon Carers.

Under the guidance of our professional photographer Tracey Fahy, the young carers photographed one another to create a collection of surreal and highly stylised images. After photographing themselves alongside 2D images, 3D objects and in the factory itself, they then printed and collaged their photos to produce a series of fun and playful images that convey a vivid sense of humour and demonstrate a range of sophisticated techniques.


After a short break, the young carers returned to the Old Vinyl Factory with our professional filmmaker Aoife Twomey. In the film that they created, one young carer discovers a swirling portal in the wall of the factory and finds himself transported into a bizarre new dimension inhabited by floating people, sinister hidden creatures and dragons. To create the effect of a new dimension, the young people worked together to write a plot, experiment with techniques including projections, and develop digital editing skills.

During September, the young carers shared their work at an exhibition in Uxbridge Library. Young carers have been described as “Britain’s hidden workforce,” and this exhibit, held at a cultural hub within their community, allowed them to assert their presence and share their unique perspective with other Londoners.

Sixteen year old Gabriella (not her real name) told us: “Thank you so much for this fun opportunity to experience a unique project. I’ve learnt lots of new skills to help me with my photography career and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you guys.”


Deutsche Bank Partnership

We partner with companies to deliver bespoke projects that meet their Corporate Responsibility priorities and makes an impact on the lives of marginalised children and adults. 

Watch this video below about our award-winning partnership with Deutsche Bank in 2015. Find out more about how we might be able to partner with you here.

Meet Sophie



Young carer Sophie was a participant in one of our projects. This is her story.

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Kent sculptures communicate friendship, education and respect

Bradfields academy
Bradfields academy


Since 2008, we’ve worked with students at Bradfields Academy in Kent on a wide range of creative arts projects including drama, photography and music.

During each project, the students – who all have complex learning disabilities – have produced imaginative work, and they certainly didn’t disappoint in our sculpture workshops this July. (This article is from 2015.) Working in small groups, and under the guidance of our professional artist Daniel Wallis, the young people began by drawing their silhouettes onto a large piece of paper, which they then cut out and used to build bodies from tights filled with scrunched-up balls of paper.

After scouting the school grounds, deciding on a pose for their statue and choosing an area in which their artwork would be installed, they used wire to provide structure and shrink wrap to hold their sculptures together. They then decorated their figures with coloured shapes and clothes.

Bradfields academy

Each of the four characters represents a value that the young people wanted to express. The figure reading the books represents education and learning, the figures on the bench communicate friendship and community, and the figure picking the flower represents respect for nature. When the statues were complete, the students’ friends and teachers were invited to come and see their work in an “unveiling” ceremony. They took great pride in presenting the artwork they created which will remain on permanent display.

Max, one of the students who took part, told us how much he had enjoyed the new experience: “It has been really good to have a professional artist come in and teach us new skills. It feels like we’re learning something extra, something from outside school. I’ve never had the chance to do something like this before. And I definitely feel a lot closer to the other people that took part in the workshops. I would jump at the chance to do something like this again; I would love it if we could make some more sculptures! I would actually like to be an artist when I get older, maybe sell my art or give it to museums, so these workshops have given me a push in the right direction.”

We look forward to returning to Bradfields and inspiring more young people like Max. We wish him luck with his artistic ambitions – good luck!

Meet Maxine

creative release - meet Maxine
creative release - meet Maxine


Earlier this year, we returned to Newham with our project for adult carers, creative:release. (This article is from 2015.)

Under the expert guidance of our professional jewellery designer Hayley Kruger, the adult carers began the project by creating unique pieces of bespoke jewellery, inspired by their visit to the V&A‘s What is Luxury exhibition.

At a time when eight out of ten carers feel lonely or isolated because of their caring role, the social interaction that projects like these allow carers can mean everything. Full-time carers can often feel marginalised from their communities and can feel ignored by society. creative:release gives them the chance to express their individuality through creativity and get support from other carers in similar situations.

“When you’re looking after someone, your whole life changes. It’s a luxury to be able to go out and do something.”


Since taking part last year, one of the carers, Maxine, has begun creating jewellery in her spare time, allowing her to express her personality and relax in the small amount of time she gets to herself. Maxine has been caring for her husband who was diagnosed with throat cancer six years ago. He has received heavy doses of chemotherapy and is in remission from the cancer but has not overcome the side effects of the chemotherapy.

Maxine helps him with bathing, taking medication, preparing his food (which often times needs to be pureed as swallowing is difficult). We sat down with Maxine and asked what luxury means to her.

“When I think of luxuries, I think of jewels, fancy clocks, intricate music boxes, and sparkly things. We saw lots of those in the V&A’s What is Luxury? exhibition. My favourite piece was the music box decorated with a monkey – I would have liked to take that home! As we walked round the exhibition, we were given the task of taking photos of the pieces that we liked so that gave us confidence.

“The more we explored the exhibition, the more we were able to pick out the details in what we were seeing. As I looked round, I thought ‘Things were more well-made in the past!’ We’ve got gadgets now to make things for us, so we have more things but they don’t last for as long. It’s ironic really. To me, luxury is not defined by money. It’s not how expensive something is. Luxury means having nice things to make your life more comfortable.

“Time is my biggest luxury. When you’re looking after someone, your whole life changes. It’s a luxury to be able to go out and do something. As a carer, you might plan a day out but then the person you care for might wake up in the morning not feeling well and you’ve got to adjust.”