A DRIVE has been launched to help Hampshire’s next generation get on in the creative industry despite the coronavirus crisis.

New social enterprise Winchester Creatives wants to raise £50,000 to fund apprenticeships and mentoring for jobless creatives aged 20-24.

It has launched Mind the Gap, a crowdfunding campaign which aims begin by raising £5,000 locally in August.

Richard Coope, who co-founded Winchester Creatives with Dan Benham, said: “Covid -19 has left a hole in the futures of Hampshire’s young creatives.

“The Resolution Foundation Think Tank predicts the UK level of unemployment will rise, leaving one million under-25s out of a job for the foreseeable future. It is clear something has to be done quickly to stop our young people from falling through the gap.”

Winchester Creatives was started by Dan Benham in 2017 as a networking event. The regular events were paused last summer.

Richard Coope won a Projects That Matter grant from Winchester City Council and Crowdfunder to relaunch the Winchester Creatives community in February.

After lockdown, he and Mr Benham to set up the organisation as a not-for-profit social enterprise to help young creatives find jobs.

Dan Benham said: “I left university in 2010 at the height of the last recession and remember what it was like trying to find experience and work at that time, along with the hundreds of other creative graduates in the local area. If we can help even a few young people find a job or a work placement, it’ll be a successful project.”

The Mind the Gap crowdfunding campaign has the initial aim of raising £5,000 to offer paid-for training.

Crowdfunder rewards include wristbands, face masks, coffee mugs, T-shirts and limited edition prints from young local artists. The rewards were produced by local Winchester designers, Dan Bee, Aryian Petrelle, Matt Hampsey and Ellie Taylor.

One print, called Mind the Gap, Alfred, from recent Winchester University design graduate Ellie Taylor, reimagines Winchester’s King Alfred the Great statue holding a skateboard and a cup of coffee.

Ellie said: “Winchester Creatives has given me the opportunity to give back to the community and to release my creativity that had been pent-up for so long during lockdown.”

A print by Matt Hampsey , another recent MA design graduate from the University of Winchester, explores his experience of lockdown.

He said: “The print expresses the things I was worrying about during the coronavirus pandemic. Winchester Creatives has given me a vital creative outlet and the campaign has given me hope for the future.”

Another print, We Shall Not Be Silenced, by graphic designer Aryion Petrelle, is inspired by the Me Too and Black Lives Matter movements.

Aryion said: “Most recent grads have a problem getting a job after their degree. I graduated with my masters degree and had to take an unpaid internship role, which I don’t believe master degree students should have to do. Most companies give unpaid internships, which in this climate is absolutely ridiculous.”

Fellow Winchester graphic designer Dan Bee said: “There is a lot of benefit for going into the industry and making lots of cups of coffee for people, but you can’t do that over Skype during Covid -19. So there is a real need right now to help support young creatives to get into the industry.”

Other crowdfunder rewards include an outdoor painting and writing masterclasses with local live event artist Lucy McLoughlin and family “lockdown portraits” from Adrienne Photography.

After the crowdfunding campaign, the team aim to raise £50,000 to offer five fully-funded apprenticeships. They are keen to encourage candidates from BAME and diverse backgrounds.

The funded apprenticeships will offer five candidates from five different creative disciplines the chance to work through paid-for apprenticeships at five agencies for a five months period.

Those not lucky enough to land the apprenticeship will be offered free mentoring with 10 local creative leaders over five months.

Information is at winchestercreatvies.co.uk