Create shortlisted for Charity Times award: Digital Transformation of the Year 2021

Charity Times award 2021 shortlisted

Our Founding CEO Nicky Goulder writes about Create being shortlisted for the Charity Times award: Digital Transformation of the Year, in time for our 18th Anniversary.

We’re delighted to have been shortlisted for the prestigious new Charity Times award: Digital Transformation of the Year.

The Charity Times awards recognise, celebrate and promote best practice

The awards recognise, celebrate and promote best practice in the UK charity sector and this new award “is designed for charities who are able to evidence a total overhaul of their digital operations throughout the pandemic. We are particularly looking for charities who, prior to March 2020, had very little digital experience, and those who have transformed a number of physical functions into successful, virtual operations. Charities that can show a sustainable use of digital, rather than temporary solutions, will be prioritised”. The winner will be announced at an award ceremony on 9 September.

Going into lockdown

I can still remember Tuesday 24 March 2020 as though it were yesterday, the day when Create’s office – in an eerily silent Moorgate – was locked by the landlord. As I walked home across London Bridge, not knowing when I would be allowed to return, my head reeled: we had entered lockdown; every Create project had been removed from the diary; and our participants were facing months of unrelenting loneliness and hardship.

Zoom is now so familiar that it seems almost impossible that I had never heard of it back then. And we had certainly never delivered a project digitally. But all that was about to change.

During the next fortnight, we researched, consulted, designed, piloted, safeguarded and launched an entirely new way of working – Create Live! – which led to the busiest year in Create’s 18-year history. During 2020/21, we designed and delivered 59 projects/938 workshops across the UK that connected, empowered, inspired, upskilled and enhanced the wellbeing of 1,303 disadvantaged and vulnerable participants.

“Taking part in Zoom workshops is a lifeline.” “I don’t feel so alone.” “I’ve felt more upbeat and positive.” – Create participants

create live nurturing talent
Create staff and artists at an online workshop

It’s been a year of huge challenge and change for everyone. But our Create Live! project concept has enabled us to deliver high quality, live, interactive, collaborative, creative workshops with groups of participants in the safety of their homes that are fun, build skills and reduce isolation. And we have been able to reach participants for the first time who are unable to access workshops in-venue.

We have continued to innovate our delivery, including a telephone music project connecting older people who were unable to access video conferencing; and a Virtual Gala with our Patron Dame Evelyn Glennie and young carer Abi that raised vital funds for our work

Evelyn Glennie at our Virtual Gala
Evelyn Glennie at our Virtual Gala

Tomorrow – 7 July 2021 – is Create’s 18th anniversary and being shortlisted for this award to coincide with this important milestone in our history is wonderful recognition of the commitment, passion, determination and drive of everyone who is involved in Create: our staff, our professional artists, our Trustees, our volunteers, our funding and community partners and – above all – our participants. 

I feel hugely privileged to lead a charity that constantly goes the extra mile for our participants. For me personally, the incredible children and adults who we work with continue to inspire and motivate me every day.

Nicky Goulder, Founding Chief Executive