Over the course of a nine month period, November 2011 – July 2012, A New Direction enabled 50 young people living in the Olympic Host Boroughs (Barking & Dagenham, Greenwich, Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest) to get a headstart in the creative industries.

By helping young people develop their creative skills in real-life scenarios, outside school, the programme acted like a scouts for the creative industries. Each 'Headstarter' was placed in a group with an industry professional, and worked with them throughout the year meeting up every-other week in the evenings and one a month on a Saturday.

The groups were themed around Photography, Film-Making, Events Promotion and Social Media Journalism.

As the year went on, the boundaries between the groups became increasingly porous and the 'Headstarters' started working on more collaborative projects together.

Together with the industry specialists, participants created short films, documented events, produced events, commented on the issues and created artwork for and of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, contributed to panel discussions and were supported on work experience. 25 Headstarters secured an Arts Award (either Bronze or Silver) by the end of the year, accrediting their learning and marking their progression.

Headstart participants worked alongside the following industry professionals:

An interesting component of Headstart is that it was an inclusive programme. Through grant funding from The City Bridge Trust and The Equitable Charitable Trust, A New Direction was able to invest in an Access Manager (Adeen Ashton – part-time consultant with Shape Arts) to pilot an integrated disability component to the Headstart programme aimed specifically at young people with learning and/or physical disabilities.

A New Direction worked with 10 young people who attended Newham College, who like all headstarters, attended evening and weekend sessions. The Newham students contributed to the running of Truce Arts event at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham, interpreting and showcasing responses to the concept of the Olympic Truce.

Of the Truce Arts event, one of the Newham students said: "This was my best day in the UK (having moved 2 years previous) and although I was nervous, thoroughly enjoyed speaking to the audience".

A New Direction is consolidating the learning from Headstart 2011-12, continuing to work on a commission basis on projects which co-produces work with young people.

Photography credits: Frances Baker and Rosalyn Barnett (flag), Renaye Roberts-Sinclair (Have your say)