This is the Accumulate story and how our founder Marice Cumber started the Accumulate project – with pots of jam. These were the Preserves with a Purpose – jams and chutney from discarded fruit and made by her and a team of volunteers and which helped to pay for the first series of Accumulate creative workshops and activities at hostels for young people who are homeless.
It all began in July 2013, when the North London YMCA hostel contacted Marice, who is a founder of the Crouch End Festival, as they wanted to explore ways that the two organisations could work together to join the skills and talents of local artists and craftspeople with the creative potential of the young, homeless people living at the hostel.
A meeting took place with the residents, and together they planned creative workshops at the hostel with the idea of producing work for an exhibition at Crouch End Festival, and so Accumulate was born.
Accumulate has moved on from making jam to pay for the workshops and now independently fundraises to provide creative workshops across London. These workshops, covering photography, film making, creative writing, drawing, pottery, knitting, and textiles take place in different locations across London, including The Barbican, The Wallace Collection and The Saatchi Gallery.
The Accumulate project and project journey is a rewarding experience for all involved. Everyone is learning, collaborating and achieving together, new friendships are made, boundaries crossed and skills built. Accumulate really shows what can happen through creativity, collaboration and the community working together and the positive and lasting impact it can have on people’s lives, aspirations and future
The Accumulate Scholarships have been set up to close education barriers and open up learning opportunities. Everyone should be able to pursue their education, study and be able to plan and prepare for a better future. Unfortunately, for the Accumulate participants that life choice is often not available. Funding, bad experiences at school, mental health and lack of family support all stand in the way of them being able to have the same choices as other people of their age, ability and aspirations. Accumulate has overturned that barrier by fundraising and providing scholarships for Accumulate participants to be able to study on the Access to HE certificate in Art and Design courses at Ravensbourne University London and Morley College. They still need to apply to the course and be accepted, but through the Accumulate scholarship initiative, they get the financial support they need and something, which may have seemed unachievable, is now theirs.
The Accumulate scholarship changes lives, gives opportunities and helps people to start their creative career. So far Accumulate has funded 24 of it’s participants to be able to study on an Access course through our scholarship scheme and 12 of these have progressed onto a degree. They have moved out of the hostel and into independent accommodation, are now regular students, with a sense of purpose and new friends and enjoying all that education has to offer.
accumulate youth charity uk feedback
Feedback from Accumulate participants:
Crystal Alleyne: Now on 2nd year graphic design at Ravensbourne University London
‘I moved into the YMCA North London in October 2018, they have 154 residents and seventy percent male residents. I must say that was very terrifying. One day there was a workshop advertised on the notice board at reception for Accumulate. I looked forward to our workshops with excitement every week. I would say that this opportunity came into my life when I was at my lowest point. I am extremely grateful for Accumulate as my life might have been entirely different had it not been for such an organisation like this because all the course leaders/tutors help me to gain self-belief and self esteem in oneself.
During our workshop we did photography, creative writing, fashion and podcasting. I able to gain experiences all these different fields. I began to have confidence in myself and be myself again. I never realised how isolated my life was before.
They must have seen something in my work as I was pleasantly surprised when I was awarded a scholarship to attend Ravensbourne University to study Design and Digital Media after doing the Accumulate workshop.
My future looks bright, but it is left to me as an individual challenge to myself to reach my full potential without losing myself in the process and to keep pressing forward and not worry about my past experiences. I am a second year student at Ravensbourne University pursuing a degree in Graphic Design. All this would not have been possible without Accumulate.’
Nikol Dehaan: Now studying on 1st year Photography degree at Ravensbourne University London
‘Accumulate has really been a lifesaver for me. Why because #1 it gave me confidence in the projects I was learning in the workshops. But also during the 1st lockdown Accumulate gave me a bit of joy with the art projects being sent in post. Not only did it keep me busy but it taught me new skills that I didn’t have before. Now once I got a scholarship to the Access course at Ravensbourne University London well let’s just say that open up a new and exciting journey. I got a distinction for my work on the Access course. And now being in university for BA digital photography I am fulfilling my dream. And that’s to tell the untold stories of the forgot people in the world or stories that need to be told to bring awareness to communities. And now I have hope to a better future all thanks to Accumulate.’
Anne Whyman: Now studying on 1st year Digital Film Production at Ravensbourne University London
‘After being deported back here five years ago due to drug addiction, I was classified as homeless and really had no direction in my life. Not really knowing anyone over here made the Covid-19 pandemic even harder on me. During the first lockdown I was introduced to Accumulate through a recommendation from a close friend of mine. She knew I was having a hard time being alone in isolation and suggested it as a way to help cope. I joined and to my amazement, without fail I received an art kit in the mail every week. It may not seem like a lot to the average person but to me, just knowing someone cared meant everything! Every week the art kits were different and each came with a special treat in them. It really is the little things in life that mean so much! I felt like I finally belonged somewhere, with a group of strangers, who have now become life long friends.
After seeing how much Accumulate was helping me with my mental health during the pandemic I then joined all of the weekly classes they had to offer. From photography to podcasting to having my work displayed in museums here in London, Accumulate has opened doors for me that I did not know even existed! I have always been a creative person but it wasn’t until I participated in these classes that I realised that I have so much more to offer the world. I have a voice! I feel as though Accumulate saw that in me too and in 2020 I was awarded an Accumulate scholarship to Ravensbourne University to study on the Access course (I was awarded a distinction for my final grade) and I have now progressed to the degree in Digital Film Production. For the first time in my life I feel like I finally have a purpose and I couldn’t have done it without the support and love Accumulate has blessed me with.’