Arts For All is a highly creative charity serving the disadvantaged communities of Tower Hamlets and Hackney. The organization runs structured weekly art therapy sessions to engage people of all ages from diverse cultures and background and those with special needs. The centre sits within one of the most deprived areas of the UK – at the moment plagued by open drug dealing on every street corner. Many of the families served by the centre are unemployed and many have English as their second language. Through long term support, Arts For All builds confidence, helps people achieve their goals and changes lives.
During the day we work with adults with learning disabilities and autism (15) and other disadvantaged, vulnerable and often isolated local adults - we run art and craft classes and through everything we aim to build confidence through creativity. Our approach is quite unique as we really get up close with each individual - supporting them in their lives; aiding with communication and working alongside other agencies involved in their lives to improve the quality of their life. This project is really needed. Many people with learning disabilities have trouble communicating and also they find it very difficult to find a place where they are really accepted for who they are. This problem is recognised as often contributing to low self-esteem, social isolation and loneliness, learned habits of compliance, lack of trust, frustration, anger and disempowerment. We want the complete opposite for our members. We want them to grow in confidence, to feel empowered and through improved communication we want them move towards more independent living. After school and in the holidays we run creative clubs for children and young people. These are pure fun! The children are aged 5 upwards.
We currently support over 50 children as well as personally supporting their families.
The children who attend our centre are often from the local, neglected estates. Many are struggling with unemployment, isolation and poverty. Some of the children with whom we work are dealing with abuse and domestic violence in home. In this area there is an increasing problem with crime against children, drug dealing and racial tensions, and as a result these young people are just not safe out on the streets. With issues at home this leaves many children with nowhere to go where they feel safe. But in the end Arts For All is for ANY child – no matter who they are.
We offer them a safe, exciting, colourful place to learn new creative skills, meet with their friends, and just “be children”!
We offer a safe and happy place where children can reach their full potential and with our support and encouragement break the cycle of unemployment in their families. We have been running for 18 years and to date the majority of the young people who have gone through our care have gone on to study something they love and then on to rewarding and sustainable employment. We keep up with those who leave through social media and also social events each term.
We often hold exhibitions in The City of art work done by the children and young people as well as adults with learning disabilities, and these are always sell-out successes. You can almost SEE their confidence grow as they start to walk taller and talk in a positive way about their future. For both the adults AND the children we run exciting trips throughout the year, offering opportunities to get out of London and/or have adventures they would never get the chance to do!
Here are some quotes from our members and their families:
‘So many of the people I was at school with; who did not have Arts For All in their lives, are unemployed and really struggling. Some are involved in crime because they did not have the opportunities I had,’
‘Caroline is doing an amazing job trying every day to reach children especially from the Tower Hamlets & Hackney area; to connect them with a healthy and happy environment where creativity is what brings every ones’ best attitude out. My children have friends attending the same clubs at Arts for All and always look forward to meeting up with them and working on different individual and sometimes group projects. I would like to insist that I feel extremely fortunate in having met Caroline Barlow at the most difficult time of my life. Arts for All has helped me stay strong and supported my children and has given me hope for a better future. I cannot imagine what the area would be without Arts for All!’
‘I can assure you that Caroline and her team are so committed to the vulnerable members of the community – whether they are children and families living with disadvantage and chaos, or whether they are adults struggling with disability or autism, I have personally witnessed them growing and developing and becoming more confident and independent. By building confidence and with their rare level of support Arts For All has helped many young people pick themselves up out of difficult lives and move forward in a positive way. Many are clear that without this amazing place they would have ended up on the streets.’
We run creative clubs - during the day for adults with learning disabilities, the elderly and other vulnerable adults. After school and in the holidays we run clubs for children and reach out to local families offering support in a personal and individual way. Helping people where they are in their lives. Arts For All is a sanctuary - a haven for those who attend. We can only run limited clubs at the moment because of financial constraints and all of our clubs are full, with waiting lists. We care so much about each person and this fact, plus the magic of creativity sees confidence grow and lives change for the better.