Jelly babies, Dolly Mixtures, sherbet fountains… they’re the stuff of childhood dreams.
The old Barratt’s chocolate factory in Wood Green, North London, once churned out all of these and more. But since 1996, this imposing building in the diverse borough of Haringey has served as a dream factory for young people from different social backgrounds who want to do something creative.
The Chocolate Factory is the beating heart of Collage Arts, a charity founded 30 years ago by graphic artist and community arts activist, Manoj Ambasna.
As well as providing office space for 200 creative businesses, The Chocolate Factory is an inspiring arts development and training hub. Their month-long training schemes offer opportunities to black and ethnic minority communities, unemployed and disadvantaged young people across London, with courses leading to 100 creative apprenticeships a year.
And thanks to a £100,000 injection of funds from Big Issue Invest, the wheels keep on turning. As it shares the Big Issue’s ethos of ‘helping people to help themselves’, Collage Arts was granted the loan to help expand their training provision, and support their core activity – to be an incubator for creative businesses. Glenn Arradon, loan manager at Big Issue Invest, said: ‘It was clear to us from the start that the opportunities they offer are life changing, which is why we are keen to support them.
This press article featured in The Big Issue magazine (April 14-20, 2014 No.1098)