Space to create

At Creative Works are, from left: Ethan Edwards, Tom Pearce, Daria Rizzott and Alexis Michaelides

Freelancers and entrepreneurs are sharing ideas, as well as workspace, in Blackhorse Lane, writes Kate Tattersfield

As a freelancer, working from home can be a lonely business, so I was excited to hear about the opening last year of Creative Works in Blackhorse Lane.

The community-focused co-working space contains more than 100 desks for creatives; event space; and a dedicated training and talent incubator programme. I had a sneaking suspicion working there might make me more productive, and I was right – within two days I’d met a handful of like-minded people and even a potential new client.

What intrigues me most about the workspace though is its focus on forging creative career opportunities for local young people. Creative Works is part of Big Creative Education (BCE), a further education academy and skills training provider at the heart of the Blackhorse Lane regeneration area. Members of the workspace have the option to work alongside a BCE apprentice from the college – an initiative that is designed to enable local creative businesses to grow while supporting the ambitions of students.

Alexis Michaelides, BCE’s managing director, explains: “The journey began back in 1999 when I first started teaching event promotions to a small group of young people on a housing estate in Waltham Forest. For nearly 20 years we’ve been changing lives through BCE, and we can now extend our vision through the launch of Creative Works, a shared workspace and community for the 21st Century, in the heart of E17.”

Unlike other co-working spaces, Creative Works is a community interest company, so any trading surpluses from the letting of desk space in the building will be reinvested into subsidised rents and furthering the educational mission of BCE. This year they will also be hosting weekly social media master-classes and employability programmes to support young people into creative careers, as well as training in digital marketing, media, events and visual effects.

It’s reassuring to know that everything about this new project is geared towards supporting the local economy. I was particularly interested to discover that the furniture was designed and built by local makers using 50% reclaimed wood, and wherever possible, sustainable materials have been used. The rugs are made from recycled plastic bottles, for instance. Members can even enjoy a free locally-sourced breakfast. Thanks for my morning caffeine fix, Wood St Coffee!

For a free desk trial at Creative Works:

For apprenticeship opportunities: