We want to help vulnerable young people living in supported accommodation in South West London to develop the additional skills they need to gain their independence. Working with qualified art therapists, young people will produce a range of artwork to turn their accommodation into a home. Through this process, these young people will develop self-confidence, improve their communication, leadership and teamwork skills, and gain practical creative and project management experience. The young people will lead the programme, deciding on the approach, style of art and managing the budget for materials.
Creating Futures is being driven by the local Children in Care Council, a group of young people who have all experienced care and advocate on behalf of children currently in care in the local area. It will be managed on their behalf by Achieving for Children, a community interest company that exists to provide services that enable young people to live safe, happy, healthy and successful lives.
What is the story so far?
Right now, in South West London, a project is nearly finished to renovate parts of a young people’s residence. This work has been 100% funded by the local council and Achieving for Children, and whilst the end result will be safe and comfortable, we want the residence to look and feel like a home.
Once work is completed, a number of young people (all in formal education or employment) will be moving into the residence and will face all the challenges of being in a new environment, such as worrying about who they are living with and if they are going to settle in. This a key moment and an opportunity to make a real difference to the young people through building a supportive community.
Artwork has been placed at the centre of this project as a way to bring the new residents together in a safe and engaging environment, breaking down barriers and building common ground. Young people living in supported accommodation have often faced significant life challenges, such as having been previously subjected to abuse or neglect. This project will provide these young people with the chance to communicate openly with fellow residents, building important life skills and teaching the importance of teamwork.
The new residents will be from a range of backgrounds, including some who will not have English as their first language, so engaging in art will enable them to communicate in a unique way with their fellow residents, building bonds which might not otherwise be possible.
By leading in the creation of the artwork, it will help the young people to create a sense of self. Art is a powerful tool in helping to shape personal identity. These vulnerable young people often lack strong traditional support networks and through the course of this project they will have the opportunity to find and express their identity in new ways.
Who is leading this project?
The local Children in Care Council, which is driving this project forward, consists of passionate local young people who have all experienced care. These young people know better than anyone the best way to help young people in supported accommodation. Achieving for Children will manage the project on a day-to-day basis and look after the finances. As an award winning community interest company, Achieving for Children has extensive experience in managing projects of this nature.
We are strong believers in supporting our local community and we will work with art therapists with strong links to South West London. Deborah Cottrell, who has extensive experience working with young people from a diverse range of backgrounds, will be our lead project art co-ordinator.
Will I be able to see the artwork?
Yes. As part of the project we will support the young people in producing social media content to provide regular updates and showcase their creations. This will be available on Achieving for Children’s Twitter page: https://twitter.com/AforChildren
Where is the money going?
All of the money raised by this project will be spent to support the Children in Care Council to deliver the project: primarily on the art therapists and materials needed.
We are planning on setting aside £1,000 for our art materials fund. This fund will be managed by the participants and they will need to work together to decide on how best to allocate their funds. This is really important because at school young people are surrounded by established support networks; days are clearly structured with allocated times for lessons and activities. Young people often come to rely on this support. For those without additional family support networks, young people can struggle with the challenges of greater independence when transitioning from school into further education, employment or training. Learning how to manage money is one of the the range of skills we want to give young people to continue their professional development and enable them to stay in education, training or employment; ultimately, empowering the young people to successfully transition to full independence.
Any leftover funds once the project is finished will be placed in an on-going ‘Resident Art Fund’ supporting future art projects agreed upon by residents.
Thanks to the kind support of Cass Art Kingston we have secured some additional materials at no cost and a discount on future purchases.
Why this project?
As well as building a successful and vibrant community, enabling participants to break down barriers and supporting young people in gaining further skills in teamwork, leadership, communication and creativity, you are also supporting important research into understanding how we can best help vulnerable young people living in supported accommodation. We will use this learning to inform the provision of child services and create better futures for young people across our community and nationally.