£3.6m London co-working space launches to help youngsters on margins

Big Issue Invest teamed up with Greater London Authority, The Local Economic Action Partnership and Charity Bank to refurbish the 100-year-old building to guide kids into creative industries

A new £3.6m co-working space offering apprenticeships to help marginalised London youngsters access creative industries has launched today thanks to a £600,00 contribution from Big Issue Invest (BII).

Our social investment arm has teamed up with Greater London Authority (GLA), The Local Economic Action Partnership (LEAP) and Charity Bank to refurbish the workspace in Waltham Forest, which has been named Creative Works.

The 100-year-old building was once home to a factory that built engines for World War I fighter planes – but now it offers 160 desks with capacity for more than 100 creative companies.

Creative Works Ethan Edwards
Creative-Works-Ethan-Edwards
Ethan Edwards has been able to secure video editing work thanks to an apprenticeship

This will pave the way for young students from some of North and East London’s most diverse areas to receive training, mentoring, practical support and apprenticeships from firms utilising the centre.

Ethan Edwards, 19, is one such apprentice – he insists that this approach has helped him to get on in life without heading to higher education.

He said: “I chose to do an apprenticeship because from school I knew university wasn’t really for me. My advice to anyone about the apprenticeship is not to be afraid of it, going straight into it isn’t that scary and you’ll learn a lot along the way.”

Creative Works is part of a new “Big Creative Village” masterminded by Big Creative Education (BCE), a creative hub at the heart of the Blackhorse Lane regeneration area (E17).

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BCE has worked with over 10,000 young people from diverse communities across North and East London since it was established in 1999.

Since 2010 they have helped more than 300 young people, many from diverse backgrounds, to find employment.

Alexis Michaelides, managing director at Big Creative Training, said: “The investment from Big Issue Invest, GLA and Charity Bank is extremely significant in supporting us to achieve our mission to support young people into creative careers.

“Unlike a commercial bank our funders have been involved in all aspects of the support and challenge required to ensure a successful and sustainable business that has been created to play an important role in promoting diversity within London’s creative economy.”

Creative Works
Creative-Works
The former WWI plane engine factory has been transformed into a co-working space with 160 desks

BII stepped in with the other partners in late 2017, making the investment from the Big Issue Invest Social Enterprise Investment Fund II LP (SEIF II), a £23.8 million fund which is now fully committed to investing over £8 million into 21 social enterprises.

James Salmon, investment director at Big Issue Invest, said: “We are so excited to be able to support the opening of Creative Works. We know that Alexis and his team will bring their characteristic indomitable passion to the project and provide young people who would ordinarily find it near impossible to enter the creative industries, with a vibrant space to learn and gather valuable on the job experience in a purpose-built workspace.”

Images: Creative Works