Tag Archives: Poached Creative

My journey with Poached Creative

Pic: Tobias. Yousif Farrah outside the Poached Creative offices at Bootstrap.

Pic: Tobias. Yousif Farrah outside the Poached Creative offices at Bootstrap.

By Yousif Farrah

Poached Creative is a social enterprise communications agency, that puts creative jobs in reach for disadvantaged people. As their Volunteer Press Officer I can speak firsthand of how they make a positive impact on people’s lives.

Two years ago I was made homeless and had to drop out of University. It was at this time that I also experienced the loss of close relatives and life started to spin out of control. I ended up in prison and life seemed so bleak. I could not see any light at the end of the tunnel.

I genuinely believed that it was the end. Fortunately, upon my release from prison I began to receive support from homeless charity St Mungo’s Broadway and they told me about The Big Issue online journalism programme, which trains homeless and marginalised people in journalism and photography. Continue reading

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Profits from music single to support the Big Issue online journalists!

By Rooney John

Poached Creative received an unexpected but very welcome gift, from renowned blues artist Mete Ege, who decided to contribute all proceeds of his single Ghosts of London to the social enterprise.

Mete was inspired to generously support the social enterprise after meeting John Watts, a recent graduate of the Big Issue Online Journalism Programme; which helps homeless and unemployed people get a head-start in the creative industries. Continue reading

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The Sound of Yellow

The Sound of Yellow

By John Watts

On the first day of rehearsals I arrived early, walked through the foyer, met the producers and managers, was shown around the club room and out onto the set. It then hit me, I’m in a play at the Young Vic. Participating, contributing, acting, performing and I don’t give a flying hoot what I’m actually doing, all I know is that I’m in a theatrical production at the Young Vic!

Ten weeks have flown past since I attended a taster workshop aimed at helping the homeless and marginalised into theatre and we began developing our production, The Sound of Yellow. Inspired by the Young Vic’s production the Valley of Astonishment, the play is an exploration of synaesthesia; where your senses crossover and you start seeing smells, hearing colours and how memories of past events are shaped by our emotional responses.

Rehearsals went really well and lying on the floor in the tent with the other performers I really felt a growing sense of being a company, if that is the right word, maybe community would be better. It was all starting to gel and it felt wonderful.

After great opening shows I think the success was getting to some people’s heads. Would you believe it but one of the other actors came up during warm up and said directly to me that I should not play about with the script, because she was finding it hard to get into character. Well, knock me down with a BAFTA. I was furious until I saw the faces of all the others, all desperately trying to stay in ‘character’ and vainly attempting not to laugh.

With the final curtain call a growing realisation dawned for all of us at what we had accomplished. We were such comrades that there is going to be a Sound of Yellow Facebook group. We are asked to consider the Young Vic as home, which may not be such a good idea as we are still experiencing various degrees of the spectre of homelessness.

So what did we get out of it, well a hell of a lot! From new friendships to a huge learning curve about the practical art of theatre and what it can achieve. I have my own doubts about art as therapy, but what it can be is a mirror to one’s own humanity and that of others. For this reason alone there should be more projects like this, their value to the participants is immeasurable however much the audience gets out of it. So, ‘the Smell of Yellow’, the sequel, anyone?

A big thank you to all the organisations involved in the creation of the Sound of Yellow and please give them all a great big hug from me.

John has recently completed the Big Issue online journalism training and has just started volunteering for Poached Creative. To read more articles by John and other past trainees visit Poached Creative’s blog

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Final Big Issue journalism course finishes on a high

After another successful course, trainees interviewed each other to find out what they thought of it and if it’s worth continuing.

The Big Issue secured funding for four six-week courses that have now been completed, but given its success its hoped new funding can be found.

John Watts, a former screen-writer, who has secured a work experience placement at homeless charity Broadway’s press office since finishing the course, said: “I learnt loads and totally stimulated my enthusiasm for [journalism] and can’t wait to get out there and do it for real. If you want to go into journalism the hands-on practical skills will seriously benefit anyone doing the course.”

During the year-long programme the course has developed a balanced and accessible schedule for people from a range of backgrounds with a range of experiences, but all united in their desire to get back on their feet and into work.

Most of the trainees already have an interest in writing or photography and want to develop it further with a view to getting work experience and ultimately paid work. Others appreciate the importance of developing their communication skills whether it be for business, the media world or their personal life.

Seb Taylor, who has toyed with photography as a hobby for years and has since got his first gig as a festival photographer at the Wickerman in Scotland, said he hoped the course would continue. He said: “There’s a hell of a lot of talent out there, but people don’t know ways into doing this and it’s been a fantastic way to do that. Now I’m set up with the tools to know what to do next.”

The course is based around producing real content to publish online so trainees learn how to write in different styles: news, features and blog-posts, and for specific audiences. They also learn how to use a camera: from composing a good shot, using the built and natural environment for effect and how to take the dial off ‘automatic’.

By week two the trainees are out and about taking pictures for a photo-essay and by week three they’re interviewing people for actual news stories. While some theory is taught before the practical sessions, it is after and on reflection the majority of it is learnt.

Throughout the course the importance, relevance and use of social media is integrated: from using a blog to finding stories on Twitter to getting them read on Facebook. Technophobes are broken in gently.

By week six the trainees have the basic skills, knowledge and confidence to try their hand in the real world, so we end the course preparing them for work: from coming off benefits, creating a portfolio, becoming a brand, building a network and nailing down a 12-month ‘career’ plan.

And it seems to work.

Trainees who have completed the programme have gone onto study for a professional journalism qualification, produce videos for charities, work at the Big Issue, freelance for news agencies, volunteer in press offices and become a festival photographer. All have attributed their success to the course.

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Anil’s story

By Salimah Bilal

Having formerly become homeless after a mental breakdown Anil dreamed of starting his own business. As he was not sure how to approach this he began attending short courses for adults out of work, as a step toward achieving his entrepreneurial goals.

This led to Anil being referred to the Big Issue online journalists and he immediately saw the course as a great way to develop his skills. Commenting on how the course benefited him he explained: “Joining the course helped me to establish a daily work routine of getting up in the morning, travelling or getting some work done and that gave structure to my life. I wanted an education so that I would have a good solid foundation, before I started on my business venture. This course was also a great opportunity to meet new people and socialise with those who may be in a similar position to myself.”

As a result of the course photography has now become a personal hobby of Anil’s and one which he said he greatly enjoys. ”It was so helpful just learning the basics of using a camera. It was great going out and taking photos, where we focussed on trying to capture a story from it.”

As well as helping to develop his photography skills the course also boosted Anil’s self-confidence. He said this gave him the belief that his business idea could be successful and helped him stay committed to the project. Speaking of the professional value of the course Anil said: “[It was] a great opportunity to network, as I had different connections that could help me with the startup of my business.”

Since completing the course Anil has put together a business plan and received funding for his Buzz Bike Hire Company; an electric bike hire scheme aimed at tourists, which features a unique delivery and collection system that he hopes will appeal to his target audience.

The Buzz Bike Hire Company is due to be launched within the next few weeks and talking about this next chapter in his life Anil commented: “It’s been daunting going into business because it’s something that I’ve never done before and you don’t know how it’s going to be received. It’s also difficult to set up a business with as little money as possible but I appreciate all the help that I have been given.”

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Danielle’s story

After studying at The London School of Journalism Danielle became a freelance journalist, working for various publications, including The Guardian, Mixmag and Time Out.

Unfortunately personal issues got in the way of her blossoming career and she lost confidence in her writing ability. So when the opportunity to join the Big Issue online journalists came up Danielle jumped at the chance to rehome her skills, get her confidence back and reignite her journalistic career. She explained:

“I hadn’t been working for a while because of family, personal and housing problems when my employment coach at Crisis called me and told me about the course. While I had already trained as a journalist we thought it was a good idea for me to go on it and develop my photography skills some more, because photography was something I wanted to take further.”

While Danielle initially joined the course as a photography trainee working in a journalistic environment quickly reignited her passion for writing and she quickly began engaging in both activities, writing about wider social issues important to her, alongside the social enterprises and charities she interviewed as part of the training. Speaking about the effect the course had on her personally Danielle said:

“I found the training very useful in terms of sharpening my skills and improving my confidence again in terms of writing”

As well as helping Danielle regain her skills and confidence as a journalist the development of her networking skills has proved to be equally important in kickstarting her career and it was at a training session at Thomson Reuters Foundation that Danielle learn’t the importance of social media networking for journalists. She recalled:

“The session on photojournalism and how to use Twitter more effectively was really helpful, as it showed me how we are living in an age where journalists have to be online as well as front line,” adding: “I feel that since the training course I have been much more confident [using social media] and have been able to use Twitter and Linkedin to network and arrange interviews”

Through contacts made on the course Danielle has gone on to work for Thomson Reuters Foundation, The Big Issue and Poached Creative. Speaking about her career moving forward Danielle said:

“One of the things I learn’t on the Big Issue training course with Poached Creative was the importance of your online presence, so I’m just finishing off what I would call my online strategy as a journalist. It has taken me some time but I have now finished my website and have a flickr account for my photography work. Through these online platforms I hope to reach out and make new contacts.”

Today Danielle is working part time at Answers From Big Issue and freelancing for Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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Chris’s story

By Martin Kitara

Before joining the Big Issue online journalists Chris had only sporadic periods of employment. He discovered the course following advice from a friend who had taken part in the training and thought that Chris would benefit from it.

Chris has been a keen photographer since 17, but at that point he didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life. More recently photography has become more important to him and he started thinking about having a job which involved taking pictures for a living.

Since completing the Big Issue Online Journalism course Chris has been working freelance on a film project for Mediorite and on various market research assignments. He said: “Discovering Poached has really been good for me. I met Jess [Director, Poached Creative] and Lucy [Director, Mediorite]. I learnt more skills in photography which was helpful. I also met new people.”

Chris really appreciates what he’s learnt at Poached. Chris said: “It is important to get out there and take opportunities regardless whether you are marginalised or not. It’s about putting yourself forward to create opportunities for yourself and doing things you are interested in with a group of people with similar interests. This gives you a push and motivates you to do stuff. When you don’t believe in yourself you get lazy. If you’re unemployed it is a chance to rediscover yourself.”

Since the training Chris has discovered the importance of keeping busy with work. He films and edits for market research companies, charities and is continuing with photography as a personal hobby.

Chris is passionate about the work he’s doing now. He enjoys the process of filming, editing and camera work. He likes the films he’s making because they are trying to make a change.

He hopes to continue making films for charities in London, making a successful living with a decent portfolio. He still has aspirations to do more ‘art-house’ work and wants to apply the skills he has learnt to different avenues. Chris says: “I enjoy photography the most because it gives you a strong feeling straight away. Filming is more diluted but is becoming more and more important.”

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