Want to get into the creative industries? Watch this space

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Helping young people into the creative industries, Camden Collective is an initiative giving graduates a free launchpad

The south end of Camden high street doesn’t blow you away. The road is dominated by closed chicken shops and dilapidated charity stores, neither of which I want on an early Friday morning. Instead, I’m here to visit the Camden Collective, a regeneration initiative supporting young people breaking into the creative industries.

Just off the high street is the collective’s main office. Office is a loose term: you’re greeted by a ping-pong table, with photos of the Collective’s success stories pasted onto wall behind. The double-height open plan room behind it houses a row of desks, moveable partitions, and bean bags.

I’m met by Jess Behar, a ‘creative broker’ at the collective. Jess laughs away her title, explaining how it all works.

Running officially since October last year, Camden Collective has three sections to it: pop-up shops, free office space (or hubs) including hot desking for start-ups and freelancers, and the fellowship programme. As a creative broker, Jess is involved in the fellowship programme, so her role – in her words – is ‘job creation in the area'. By ringing up local businesses, asking if they need an intern or a student for work experience, or even if they have any vacancies they need filling, Jess creates a dialogue with the local creative community, connecting hundreds of young grads and students through her newsletters with the creative industries already present in Camden’s community.

There’s a diverse mixture already present: post-production and music companies jostle with galleries and publishing houses, and the collective seeks to draw this creative side of the town out, replacing the staid charity shops.

"A lot of the successful businesses in the area really want to help young people out and it’s really nice," says Jess "They’re often the people who engage with the programme, more than a HR department who just don’t care at all."

Creative career advice

Beyond her newsletter you can become a fellow of the collective, although, as Jess concedes, ‘it’s not exactly clear to the outside world'. Running CV overhaul sessions, speaking to university students at UCL, Central Saint Martins and Goldsmiths, Jess comments sometimes that’s all students want. "But some people are different: they are looking for that extra amount of contact".

One of these people is Imogen Houldsworth, 24, an aspiring print design assistant. Having graduated with a BA from Chelsea College of Design and gone straight on to do an MA at Saint Martins, Imogen suddenly found herself disillusioned with her educational path.

"I really wanted to work, and it just wasn’t the right environment for me." Finding herself at a loose end and reduced to working from her studio bedroom, ‘which is not ideal for a creative mind!’ – Imogen was at an event at London College of Fashion when she met Jess.

“She just said come down to the hub, you can come and work there, get your portfolio done. It was super casual.” Imogen joined only a few days ago but she’s positive about what the collective can bring: “I hadn’t realised how enclosing it can be working from home, but to be working in a creative environment, with other creatives around you, I think it’s fantastic.”

Pete Corrigan, 27, is another example of someone who’s enthusiastic about the Camden Collective. He left Staffordshire University with a degree in film production, but struggled to find any kind of work in his chosen industry. “It was very hard, especially when I first came out of uni. I was applying for any runner job, internship, anything and everything, but I didn’t really have any contacts.” Eventually, Pete just decided it was a case of doing it for himself: "I just thought, let’s give this a go."

With the help of a loan from the Princes Trust he managed to get together camera equipment, a business plan and was then introduced to Jess through a friend.

“At first I just said I needed a place to shoot. But she asked me to come down and see the place, find out what they do, and see if I’d want to work there.” Now, Pete divides his time between the collective and home, and is waiting on a further loan to invest in a laptop so he can spend more of his working day in Camden.

Making space

It’s hard to see why you’d ever turn the offer down. Jess mentions how they try to vary the individuals and companies using the hubs, keeping a diversity that stretches from tech start-ups to jewellers and fashion designers.

The versatility of the space naturally lends itself to the approach – the night before they’d had a party, and some of the resident fashion designers have staged their first runway shows in the space. Already, Imogen says, she’s got friends calling her up and asking if they can join. It’s an attitude that permeates the space, which recently expanded across the street, opening more office spaces and providing greater freedom.

The project is funded by the Mayor's Regeneration Fund, which in the wake of the 2011 riots announced a £70m refurbishment programme. Camden Collective received £1.4m, partly from the Regeneration Fund and from Camden Council and Camden Town Unlimited. The money goes towards renting the hubs and pop-up shop space, but Jess hopes that the collective will eventually become self-sustaining, turning into an affordable workplace, and engendering a legacy with its fellows. It seems already to be happening; as Imogen says “I think I’ll always be a part of the collective.”

The sense of community is helped by the attitude to the fellows and young people who interact with the collective. Their passion and enthusiasm is what motivates Jess: “It’s not just numbers: it’s a relationship you have with these people. I’ll be on email to them, or they’ll call me up, just with the odd question: 'I had this interview – do you think I should have done this, or this?’ and you can’t quantify it.”

What advice would Jess offer to those aspiring to go into the creative industries? “I look at so many CVs and the ones that stand out are the ones that are focused or streamlined, and which seem to point towards one particular area. If there is a thread then it’s a lot more powerful. I think people need to think about careers at school – really that is the most important thing.”

After leaving the collective I wander up Camden high street to take a look at one of their pop-up shops. Displaying the work of collective fellows, it’s a bright statement on a dull Friday morning; full of the promise the Camden Collective offers to the area and to the young people involved.

Collective are always looking for applicants to fill their available workspace in the hubs or to take over one of their pop-up shops. For more information please visit www.camdencollective.co.uk

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Glou...

Primary Teachers Required in King's Lynn

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary Teachers needed in King's Ly...

Primary Teachers needed in Ely

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary Teacher needed in the Ely ar...

KS2 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: KS2 Teacher needed in Peterborough a...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain