2021 – our year in review

Our CEO Steve Moffitt shares highlights from across the year and looks ahead at what’s to come

22 December 2021

2021 has been another roller coaster of a year for all of us, and particularly for those working with children and young people across the capital. We are all aware that young people in our city have had a hugely challenging time during the pandemic. The uncertainties London’s young people face in the future have never been as apparent; the inequalities never more pronounced. 2022 will be a fresh start and hopefully easier for all of us.

Although challenging and often frustrating, in 2021 A New Direction has managed to deliver a strong and relevant programme of work (both online and in person) and I would like to thank all our partners, funders, participants, and stakeholders for a successful year filled with new and exciting work.

Key achievements for this year include the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) appointing A New Direction to run the Good Growth Hub in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. This five-year contract was announced in February 2021 and our Employment and Skills team are now embedded in the new space at Hackney Bridge. We look forward to growing our delivery, working with new employers and partners, and attracting new investors in the Good Growth Hub in 2022. The programme has been launched with support from LLDC and New Talent Future Leaders, working in collaboration with East Bank Partners and wider creative and cultural employers and community organisations such as Hackney Quest, Badu, along with the local boroughs (Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest). Highlights to date include the STEP programme which supported 10 local residents with development opportunities and mentoring, and set them up with jobs in the creative and cultural industries.

We are also excited to be part of UNBOXED: Creativity UK – the 2022 festival of innovation – supporting the delivery of the Dreamachine schools programme across the four nations. Resources are currently being developed, and partnerships with UNICEF and British Science Week are in place.

Other project and programme highlights include:

  • 92 jobs created as part of the government Kickstart initiative, all at London Living Wage
  • 10,000 Let's Craft art packs were distributed across London via the Mayor's Fund for London Kitchen Social network, reaching 12 boroughs across 30 different hubs, and engaging thousands of children
  • 98 young Londoners aged 18-24 from under-represented backgrounds were supported via our Future Startup Now programme to develop digital and entrepreneurial skills, learn about the tech sector, access paid placements in startup environments. 20 new trailblazing businesses also received funding
  • 30 young people in care engaged in a week-long programme of creative online workshops with a range of artists and practitioners through our We Belong programme. You can see their artwork and poetry in our online gallery and read about their experiences of lockdown in this digital zine. Building on learning from the programme, we’re looking forward to developing our work with care experienced young people in 2022
  • Our Reset Digital Facilitation Toolkit was launched, sharing activities and advice for the cultural sector on how to enhance online and blended activity
  • The impacts of the pandemic on our key stakeholders were investigated via Listening Projects – a set of five research reports exploring themes including employment and work and the Earth emergency
  • Our Teaching for Creativity schools programme continues to expand with the addition of new Taster Cards – sets of quick and playful activities designed to help develop creative habits with students. We also ran a Teaching for Creativity Webinar with Professor Bill Lucas and Dame Alison Peacock, exploring how to embed creativity in the classroom
  • In June we delivered a blended version of I Am Festival – a celebration of creativity with D/deaf, disabled, and neurodivergent children and young people. Through interactive and live streamed events, the festival engaged over 600 pupils in their classrooms and additional residencies worked with 52 young people who collaborated with artists in schools
  • Four Challenge London investments have been completed in 2021, and we reached 100% match funding this year, with £1,146,389 total investment now committed. We also refreshed our Young Challenge Group (YCG) – the youth advisory panel for A New Direction’s place-based and partnership work – and look forward to sharing more from YCG members in 2022
  • We continued to support Local Cultural Education Partnerships (LCEPs) across the city this year with seven peer learning meetings. We have also been working with emerging LCEPs in Ealing, Brent, Bexley, Greenwich, Havering
  • Creativity Works: Content Production took 38 participants through an intensive training programme of work experience, live briefs and masterclasses – all delivered online. 90 second short films were conceived, shot and directed by our talented cohort of aspiring filmmakers, responding to a brief from partners The Face

A personal highlight for me was revisiting A New Direction’s Mission, Vision and Values through a process of consultation with stakeholders, staff, and trustees. We are very proud of the renewed clarity and purpose around who we are, what we do, and why we do it. We have also refreshed how we describe the key areas A New Direction’s work, with the organisation now comprising three core teams: Education, Culture and Place; Employment and Skills; and Communications, Operations and Development.

Part of our learning this year has involved work around the organisation’s commitment to anti-racism. We are grateful to the various freelancers who have supported us with training and enabled us to more effectively articulate our commitment to address racial equality and racial justice.

All of the work we do could not be achieved without the ongoing support of our partners, funders and stakeholders. I am indebted to the energy, drive, and commitment of the A New Direction team and our trustees – these are the people who make all of the above happen. We look forward to working with you in 2022 and wish you all the best for a peaceful and healthy restful break over the festive period.