What and Why?

The Dorset Arts Trust Children & Young People’s Hub, led by The Arts Development Company, were commissioned by Real Ideas Organisation (RIO) and Synergy Housing, part of the Aster Group.

The aim was to support a project for some of the most hard to reach disadvantaged,disengaged and socially excluded young people from West Dorset. (Weymouth and Portland has four of the deprived wards in Dorset which are ranked nationally in the top 20% in the indices of deprivation 2010 – source: Weymouth and Portland Community Plan 2013-16.)

This has involved a very different approach for us as arts organisations. The project was about employability, skills development, confidence and entrepreneurship and evidencing these outcomes, rather than the creative or artistic qualities.

Timescale: September 2013-March 2015

Our Work

We reached out into the communities and talk to young people, engaging them with the project. We organised and delivered training and signposting activities for young people.



  • 149 young people engaged with the project, 62 of which are NEET, 37 at risk of being in NEET, 18 have learning difficulties, 6 are young careers and 25 are in economic hardship
  • We used an investment of over £60,000 to make changes in 149 young people’s lives, generating an additional social value of over £500,000 through savings related to benefits, health and well being, school attendance and achievement.
  • 48 qualifications in Arts Award, Social Enterprise, Free Running, EU Youth Pass
  • 16 young people appointed to internships and apprenticeships.
  • The project also won an award for Synergy Housing
  • More details can be read in this Outcome and Impact Document PDF

A young person’s story – Adam

In January 2014 – Adam was a 20 year old unemployed and disengaged young man. Through Job Centre Plus he was signposted to work with a b-roads creative arts marketing mentor. She guided him through his social enterprise qualification, helping him formulate his creative idea ‘Unorthodox Clothing’, to promote environmental change through screen printing creative designs onto T-shirts.

With her support Adam pitched his plans to the UnLtd fund, to set up a social enterprise; he was successful with this and received support from Synergy Housing to set up his business and develop his 5 year business plan. Adam is now marketing and selling his T-shirts through TREADS local clothing store and Litter Free Coast and Sea environmental awareness group. He is running his own business and employed part time in a coffee shop and no longer claiming benefit.

Quote from a young person – Cara

“Laura (Mentor) helped me out by motivating me, helping me realise my goals and giving me encouragement. She set up a meeting with a local design company and encouraged me to come up with some in depth questions which gave me an insight in to the creative industry that I would havenever got any other way.”  Cara, Mentee

In the news

Commissioned by

Synergy Housing and The Arts Council England through Real Ideas Organisation 

Quote from Commisioner

“An exceptional pilot that has far exceeded expectations and outcomes” Angela Gould, Synergy Housing Dorset Customer Involvement and Community Development Manage