Supporting Social Mobility – Youth Work Week 2016

Makeshift Cinema: Florence Creffield and Kat Martin

Young people Florence Creffield and Kat Martin have created a project which helps their peers kickstart their careers.  The pair were film students who wanted to give a helping hand to other young film makers and get their makeshift-cinemawork seen and exposed. Their project, Makeshift Cinema, holds film festivals which are free both to attend and enter. They received funding and support from O2’s Think Big programme, which is managed by NYA.

“The Makeshift Cinema is one of the only film festivals that is free to submit to and attend. Through the project we aim to showcase top international filmmaking talent to local communities and industry professionals alike.

“An important focus of our events is bringing together a community of filmmakers to create connections and share ideas. So far we have hosted three events in Hackney, Brixton and Peckham which all had over 100 people attend! The next step for The Makeshift Cinema is to branch out into different themes and to address topical social issues – next year we hope to organise one around International Women’s Day, as gender equality is something we’re really passionate about. Another aim is to partner with organisations and charities whose values align with our own.”

MiniWEDay: Molly Dixon

Young people can achieve anything when they work together. That was the message Molly Dixon was inspired by after attending Free The Children’s WeDay UK event, celebrating young people’s ability to make a difference in their local communities.

Afterwards, she realised that she was filled with motivation but this type of event was non-existent in her local area, Grimsby. Determined to make a difference Molly established MiniWEDay, an annual event which aims to encourage young people in her region to make a change in communities locally and globally. The event features motivational speakers sharing their experiences and volunteering opportunities. Along with funding and support from O2’s Think Big programme she’s used her networking skills to create links with 10 local schools, offering the students a wide range of projects to get involved with from a food drive to anti-bullying initiative.  By offering support to younger people Molly has kickstarted a whole new generation of young activists.molly-dixon-3

Molly has learnt to overcome obstacles, with business support from O2’s Think Big programme, and MiniWEDay is set to continue growing in the future. Her project has already become a huge part of creating a force of young people driven to get involved with social-action causes in her area.

Andy Green, who helped organise the event, nominated Molly for a Diana award, which she won for her commitment to transforming the lives of others.

Street Magic Mike: Alex Henderson

Alexander Henderson is a project leader on the O2’s Think Big programme. He studied TV &Film Production and wanted to help his peers get the experience they needed to work in the industry.

“We wanted to give young people who wanted to get into the TV & Film Industry the opportunity to expand their portfolios and give them work and experience that no education provider would be able to give them.”

“Our project was first called Street Magic Mike. With the money and support we gained we were able to produce a small series of videos for youtube, teaching 4 young people about all stages of production.

“For the next stage we changed our project name to “The future of film” and spent the money on infrastructure and equipment so we could start producing work for professional clients. The same young people who helped us on Street Magic Mike took the pic-alex-hendersonreins in planning and producing the videos for clients and now they have professional experience for their CV’s and portfolios.

“Now our project is over, we set up our own company called ‘NewGen Creative’ and the six young people who helped us out in our project are now employed by us! It gave these young people confidence in what they do, leadership, organisational and teamwork skills. It also raised awareness of 11 charities throughout the North East and showcased one of the biggest charity events of the year.

“Our project is unique as it is the first of its kind to be run by young people for young people.”

Upcycling: Elliot Goodger

Each year 18 million tonnes of rubbish fills the landfills of our country. Over 1 million tonnes of clothing and other textiles are thrown away in the UK each year. Elliot Goodger, a project leader on O2’s Think Big programme, wants to make a change. He not only creates beautiful bowls and coasters from scratched vinyl, but he also spends his time showing his community, and beyond, how to create something new from something old. He’s been running stalls at universities, sharing his amazing creations on Twitter and now plans to launch a new YouTube channel which will document each stage of upcycling. He wants to remind people that things can be made, and that the love and labour that goes into creating something often makes an object more interesting.


Since starting the project Elliot has inspired other young people to start their own upcycling projects and is teaching tangible skills to other young people in his local community. He believes that people don’t upcycle because they don’t know how – he plans to change this.

YMCA George Williams College evaluation of the Youth Forum at the Serpentine Galleries

The Serpentine Galleries is a public art gallery in Hyde Park, London who has pioneered collaborative projects between the Gallery and local community-based projects for many years. One such project, the Youth Forum, aims to engage year 10 students at a local Academy school, to delivery arts-based programmes as an internship offer. The project uses various arm mediums as a vehicle to help improve the skills and confidence levels of participating young people.

The YMCA George Williams College (GWC) was approached to evaluate the Youth Forum and this year has observed and interviewed young people involved in two work experience projects.

Each cohort ran for one day a week for a full term and staff and resident artists from the Serpentine Galleries delivered sessions at the Cockpit Theatre in London. This was offered to students looking for an internship placement, which meant that for the term they did not attend the Youth Forum project, they would have another work experience placement, which for many was working in retail.

The YMCA GWC evaluated two cohorts using a case study approach by observing Youth Forum sessions and interviewing participant young people. Findings suggest it:

  • Provides a creative alternative to the traditional internship placement opportunity, taking young people out of their comfort zone and providing them with the skills to learn how to express their ideas and opinions whilst respecting those of other participants;
  • Works well because resident artists and staff use a participatory and inclusive approach, exhibiting attributes such as listening, kindness and respect. This allows the young people to be the authors of each project, designing the content and direction of what it is they are collaboratively creating together;
  • Introduces the concept of ‘critical thinking’ to young people where they start to articulate rationales for their beliefs and communicate this with others, whilst appreciating that when someone else holds a different view, both can benefit from understanding each other’s perspective.
  • Enables young people to start learning key skills which are relevant to the workplace, such as building the confidence to get to know new colleagues and learn what it means to be part of a team.

The young people spoke highly of the Youth Forum. When the young people were asked what they got out of the project, they immediately talked about the key skills they had developed, rather than the artistic product of the radio or TV show. One young person described her experience which summarises the views shared by many other participants: “At school I am now more able to work on my own initiative and work harder, because I now know that it is difficult in the outside working world. Being part of the Youth Forum with people from my school has introduced me to how to work with people that I don’t really know”.