A social enterprise is helping inspire initiative and creativity amongst young people in County Durham thanks to assistance from Teesside University.
Creative Youth Opportunities is a community interest company, based in East Durham, which offers creative workshops, projects, events and opportunities for children and young people.
The social enterprise was founded in February 2014 by Michelle Harland, a former local authority worker, who set up Creative Youth Opportunities to help increase participation in creative activities amongst young people.
Creative Youth Opportunities has been helped with a grant worth £10,644 from the UnLtd SEE Change programme, administered by Teesside University. The grant enabled Michelle to work full time on the project and offer even more projects.
The social enterprise, which works closely with young people in disadvantaged areas and with hard to reach groups, aims to help young people harness their creativity to build positive, enterprising futures.
It offers a range of courses and workshops in a variety of art and craft disciplines aimed at encouraging creative skills, exploration and enterprise.
Recent projects have included three art installations in Seaham which have been designed by young people and will form part of an art trail which will link in the ‘Tommy’ sculpture on the seafront.
Craft products and supplies made by young people at workshops are also sold at fairs and local events.
Michelle said: 'We initially started out wanting to do specific projects for young people, but the business has evolved to offer a range of workshops and events.
'I was having to pick and choose which projects to fit in with my work, but the grant gave me the confidence to concentrate on the social enterprise full time as well as invest in more new materials and equipment.
'Setting up my own business was quite scary, but I really enjoy being my own boss.' The UnLtd SEE Change programmes aim to support existing social entrepreneurs that require access to funding to grow their business on a national or international scale.
Laura Woods, Director of The Forge, Teesside University’s business hub, said: 'Michelle’s social enterprise is doing a fantastic job helping to inspire young people and encourage their creativity.
'We are pleased to have been able to give Michelle the confidence and support she needed to grow her business and make it a success.'