Cultural capital started life in 2013 after years of discussions between founding members Nathan Damson and Asad Yaqub, two school friends who had personal experience of being let down and disenfranchised by the education system.
After leaving school they used their experiences to achieve at college, at university, and in successful careers in education, youth work and criminal justice, spanning 30 years collectively.
Working in these careers was rewarding but they both knew that things could be better.
“We both had reservations about the way things were done and whether these initiatives, despite best intentions, were really able to meet the needs of the young people they were supposed to help. There was no opportunity or capacity to think outside the box and be creative, we had become frustrated by this one size fits all approach. We always said that if I had the opportunity to do things better we would use our experiences to develop something that works for young people, using a ground up approach.” Nathan Damson, Director, Cultural Capital
The opportunity to put their theories into practice came in 2013 when they started working with faith and community organizations, to develop and deliver a range of young people-centred workshops and projects. They built a reputation as an organization with the ability to engage all sorts of young people and effect small but significant changes; Cultural Capital was born.
Cultural Capital had a lot more to give – they just needed the right opportunity to come their way.
It came in 2014 in the guise of the Youth Contract, initiative aimed at supporting 16 to 17 year olds deemed vulnerable or at risk of disengagement from education.
We were confident that we could deliver the youth contract but we really wanted to make it work for the young people who we wished to engage on the program. We were fully aware of the target group, and we knew we needed to do a lot more in order to facilitate achievements and support young people to accomplish long term success. ASAD YAQUB
While continuing to use the youth contract as a basis of support it was rebranded as the Young Peoples Plan going beyond contractual obligations. We extended the duration of support from 6 to 12 months and also added the offer of financial support.
We knew that extending the support would make our job more challenging but from the outset we recognized the benefits to young people would outweigh the costs. We wanted to go that extra mile to make it really work of young people remembering all those long discussions we had before starting Cultural Capital and putting it all in to practice. NATHAN DAMSON
At the end of the program cultural capital achieved unprecedented success engaging with 1053 young people, supporting 930 into full time education or training with 883 staying in education and training for an entire academic year.
In our first year of delivery Cultural Capital contribution represents 30% of the Youth Contract for young people aged 16 – 17 in London and, with the support of the prime contractor and partners, we developed an impactful instrument of support for those who need it most.
What makes Cultural Capital different to other organizations is its capacity to stretch the limits of the Youth Contract to offer optimum levels of support to young people; hiring additional staff, providing extra support and extending its volume and duration to meet the needs of young people – as well as the training and educational bodies helping them achieve their aspirations.
Supporting young people isn’t a numbers game for Cultural Capital – it is a person-centred approach that starts from the ground up.