Nicky Goulder on how Create use arts to make society more inclusive

Private Goodness is proud to support Create by donating 5% of each CSR seminar and workshop invoice. Create are the charity that most share our values of creativity, inclusivity and collaboration.

Nicky Goulder, the Chief Executive of Create, kindly answered 5 burning questions about their vision, their impact and how other companies can help.

1. Can you tell us about your vision for Create?

I had the vision for Create in 2002 and started the charity from my dining room table in July 2003. I am passionate about making society fairer, more caring and more inclusive and my vision was of a charity that would use the creative arts to empower the most disadvantaged and vulnerable children and adults across the UK.

The benefits of taking part in creative activities are huge in terms of building confidence, forming supportive relationships, developing creative thinking, self-expression and wellbeing.

Back in 2002, I was CEO of an orchestra where I’d established programmes that gave vulnerable people without access to music the chance to get involved. These included prisoners, homeless people, frail older people and young people who’d been excluded from school. As an orchestra, our programmes centred around music, of course, and I believed that being able to offer a range of artforms would have even more impact.

Nicky Goulder

2. I know that one of your favourite programmes is creative:connection, which brings together disabled and non-disabled young people to create collaboratively. What was the response like when you first announced this project?

We started working with disabled participants in the early days of Create. Then, in 2013, I won the Clarins Most Dynamisante Woman of the Year award, which brought an incredible £30,000 in prize money. We used this to develop a new project that took sensory music making to children at six special (SEN) schools across the UK. This was hugely rewarding and empowering. When we thought about our ongoing work with disabled young people, we decided to use this to counter some of the prejudice, lack of understanding and discrimination that disabled people face.

According to Scope, over a third of the British public have avoided talking to disabled people for fear of saying the wrong thing, and 40% of parents say that their disabled children ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ have the opportunity to socialise and mix with children who are not disabled. Too often, work with disabled people is done in silos, allowing barriers between disabled and non-disabled people to remain.

We designed creative:connection to break down those barriers. Through the programme, we’ve brought together SEN and mainstream schools that have never collaborated before, despite some of these being across the road from one another. The response to the project has been incredible. Since 2014, creative:connection has worked with over 1,000 disabled and non-disabled children, and both teachers and students tell us how valuable the project is.

As one non-disabled young person told us:
I didn’t know any disabled people before this project so I wasn’t sure how we’d work together as a team. I thought they might struggle with certain things and they proved me wrong. I have a different understanding of disability now. I saw that the disabled students had so much fun being creative and getting stuck into the activities. I think the workshops have made me a kinder person and have taught me not to judge people. I definitely wouldn’t be as unsure interacting with a disabled person now.”

Disabled and non-disabled young people working together during a Create workshop

3. I’ve met your excellent corporate fundraising team who have a great understanding of corporate responsibility. What role do businesses play in the success of Create?

We have developed impactful partnerships with a wide range of companies from different sectors. Some support projects; others join our Create the Difference business membership scheme; while corporate employees have fun and raise money for us through events and activities from RideLondon and bake sales to choirs and pop-up shops. Large and small organisations collaborate with us on projects and events. These include a national programme working with young carers when they are most isolated during the school holidays; and a weekly project that reduces loneliness among adults with dementia. On a fundamental level, funding from businesses makes many of our projects possible. But what’s becoming increasingly important to us and our businesses partners is what Create can bring in terms of their sense of purpose, their commitment to making an impact on their communities, and staff wellbeing/satisfaction. Partnering with Create unlocks volunteering opportunities, enabling employees to take part in a Create project and enhancing the participants’ experience.

One project brings vulnerable older people with mental ill-health to the offices of a law firm every six weeks, where they meet and collaborate with some of the staff. They share lunch and take part in a creative workshop, making them feel special and valued, reducing isolation and enabling them to build new skills. Close relationships are developing between the staff who volunteer and the older people, bringing joy and shared understanding. To our delight, 90% of volunteers said that the experience had made them feel more confident in working with people from different backgrounds, 89% reported that their job satisfaction and communications skills had increased, and 83% felt that their ability to adapt to different situations had improved.

On another project, 92% of volunteers said the Create project had increased their creativity – significant given that, according to the World Economic Forum, creativity will be the third most important skill in the workplace by 2020.

Volunteers leave Create projects feeling refreshed, upskilled, inspired to volunteer again and with a creative mind-set they can take back to work.

Young carers in Southwark perform music with Create © Tracey Fahy

4. Is there a way that businesses can display the art that’s created in their offices?

Of course! Businesses can commission us to run projects with participants (and their staff can get involved too) to create permanent art for their premises; or temporary exhibitions can be held in their office. Our corporate partners often host celebrations at their offices at the end of projects, where participants share what they’ve created during the workshops and staff share in the celebration.

5. What would companies find surprising about collaborating with Create?

What companies often find surprising and exciting about collaborating with Create is that projects can be individually designed to match their corporate brief. We also match the objectives set by the community partner (eg: day centre for older people or special needs school). What results is a carefully tailored, co-created project that everyone loves! If, for example, a company wants to work with a particular group (eg: adult carers or disabled children), has a preference for supporting a specific geographical location (eg: the community close to its offices), and is keen to involve its employees as volunteers, we can design a programme that meets these objectives.

Companies are also impressed by our rigorous evaluation methodology.

We agree clear aims at the beginning of each project and have a 100% feedback policy, ensuring that everyone who takes part – participants, volunteers, community partner staff members and Create artists – provides detailed feedback. In-depth reports are written and shared at the conclusion of each project, demonstrating what has been achieved against the objectives set, and providing recommendations for future improvements. These include the impact on employees who have taken part. We also assess the longer-term impact of our projects on participants, selecting two each year to revisit 6-24 months after their completion.

A Senior Fellow at Cass Business School review our evaluation procedure and described it as “probably as good as you can get”! We love that we’re able to provide companies with great evidence of the impact that our partnership is having on the people we work with, including their employees.

Companies might also be surprised by the fantastic feedback from volunteers! Staff need no creative skills or experience to take part, just an enthusiasm to make a difference to the participants and a willingness to get stuck in.

As one volunteer said, “I got a feeling of pride from volunteering: learning how to reconnect with young people, finding out about the challenges young carers face, being a kid again and making art.

Thank you for your time Nicky!

A young carer working with Create's professional artist and a volunteer from Deutsche Bank

You can find out more about Create on their website