In a nutshell:
- Founder: Kara Thompson
- Organisation: Creative Generations offers workshops for children and older people in Essex where they share stories and make art together to improve well-being.
- Business model: workshops funded by schools and retirement communities (or Council who manages them)
- SSE programme: Thurrock Social Entrepreneurship Programme 2019
- Supported by SSE in London
Loneliness and isolation in the UK doesn’t just affect the ageing population. According to the Office for National Statistics, 1 in 10 children also experience loneliness. Kara’s work as an artist and tutor in her local community helped her to discover that inter-generational interactions and creativity can help the well-being of both children and older people. “Probably from my own isolation and from seeing that in my grandparents, I knew I wanted to help people to feel less alone,” Kara reflects.
She then set up Creative Generations to bring her idea to life, using her skills and passion for all things creative. The social enterprise offers art workshops for children and the older community to help them to see past their differences, connect through story-telling and creativity, and feel more valued in their communities as a result.
Kara joined our Thurrock Social Entrepreneurship Programme and valued the sense of community within the group. “It seems easy to become isolated whilst pursuing a social enterprise, so it was brilliant to have such supportive people around me.”
“Having a place to go monthly to reflect and learn so much was invaluable.”
Kara learnt heaps during the programme sessions from public speaking to business planning. Our teaching and learning style allow students to put what they learn into practice. And that’s exactly what Kara did. “At a local event, I pitched Creative Generations and won a small fund to put towards some workshops!” she says proudly – and rightly so!
Giving massive kudos to the programme leader, Michelle, as well as the programme itself, Kara says: “[They] gave me so much confidence and showed me that I can make a success of Creative Generations despite my struggles with anxiety.”
The children and older adults meet up every week, and the chatter as they catch up are a testament to what Creative Generations does for them. “If I could, I’d play that sound to you, but otherwise I can give some statistics from the workshops in June/July 2019.”
After participating in the workshops, 100% of the older adults reported feeling more connected or valued in their local community. Before participating, 71% of these adults living in sheltered housing said they felt they had an important role in their community. However, after the workshops, 100% said they did.
Children also benefited greatly. They felt more confident to interact with adults and children they hadn’t met before; more likely to help somebody; and more powerful in being able to make their community better.
Top tip for social entrepreneurs:
“Talk to other social entrepreneurs! This can be a lonely path, and when you talk you can learn a lot. But also realise that you aren’t alone in the difficult parts.”