TMC named winner in the Best Service Delivery Innovation category at the Third Sector Awards 2023

The prestigious Third Sector Awards serves to celebrate the outstanding achievements and contributions made by individuals, organisations, and initiatives within the Third Sector. The awards ceremony took place on Friday 22nd September at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London and was hosted by comedian Maisie Adam.

We were delighted to see The Mighty Creatives named as the winner in the Best Service Delivery Innovation category. This award recognises our efforts in adapting and innovating our core Creative Mentoring service in direct response to the challenges presented by the cost-of-living crisis, and the impact on our young beneficiaries and the services they relied on.

Our CEO, Dr. Nick Owen MBE, comments on the award:


The Third Sector Awards is a highly competitive and prestigious award for any organisation working within the Third Sector to receive, and the ceremony itself was a fantastic opportunity to meet with like-minded people driving real change and making an undeniable difference to the lives of so many people.

We are honoured to be named as the winner for Best Service Delivery Innovation at the Third Sector Awards this year in recognition of our Creative Mentoring service, especially given the incredible, high-quality nominees not just in our category, but across all of the award categories. We are grateful to our dedicated staff team, our Board of Trustees, our partners, our funders, Creative Mentors, Youth Board and, of course, the reason why The Mighty Creatives exists: our inspiring young beneficiaries.

When the cost-of-living crisis erupted, we recorded a 700% rise in referrals to our Creative Mentoring service – a model of one-to-one support for children and young people who are care-experienced, facing adversity, challenges, or disadvantage in their lives.

With record numbers of children and young people in care and 54% of foster carers saying they had considered resigning, or had already resigned, due to the cost-of-living crisis, the system was, and remains, under severe strain; facing spiralling costs, staffing shortages, and colossal underinvestment.

Referrals grew, as did the geographical landscape. The cost-of-living crisis exacerbated residential home and foster care placement shortages, forcing children and young people to relocate miles away from their home area. The impact on services and on young people’s wellbeing, opportunities, relationships, and engagement is a combination that fuelled our need to adapt the service. We knew these young people needed us more than ever; we were listening, and we were ready to be mighty.

So we adapted our Creative Mentoring service delivery to meet the changing needs of our young beneficiaries, impacted by the cos-of-living crisis, by:

  • Launching 4 rounds to grow our pool of Creative Mentors to 86 to reach increased demand.
  • Recruiting new Mentors or ensuring existing Creative Mentors could deliver the service outside of our original target area in the East Midlands region to meet rising demand further afield. The service now supports children and young people across the whole Midlands region and beyond, including Warwickshire and Shropshire. While our core cohort of beneficiaries are care-experienced, we also extended our reach by delivering to children and young people with a broader definition of need (e.g. any young person with a social worker, those receiving Pupil Premium).
  • Introducing employability support through our Mighty Employers Network, empowering employers to provide high-quality opportunities for young people aged 16-25 (who are care-experienced or have experienced episodes of need).
  • Providing a free pre-employability service, Employ ME – a flexible, interactive, and personalised online course for those young people to support their future lives in education and work.

Our key challenge was to ensure we remained responsive and flexible to the needs of both the services and children and young people impacted by the cost-of-living crisis. We conducted regular consultations and focus groups with our referral partners, mentors, mentees, and our youth board to ensure our service adapted for need. We also commissioned four young artists to work with young people (with lived experience of need) to identify “What’s going on?” through a series of creative projects and outputs. This was designed to help inform our service development and ensure young people’s social, emotional, political, and creative presence was valued and heard.

At the time of our entry, we recorded the following impact:

  • 70% of our young beneficiaries had made ‘good’ progress through the service, and 90% of children and young people engaged in the service said their confidence had increased, with 85% reporting they were now able to make better decisions independently as a result of the support.
  • 100% of beneficiaries entered full or part-time employment, or were engaging in alternative provision, education, or training placements. These participants were not regularly attending any form of education or training at the time of referral.
  • We reached 91 children and young people receiving Pupil Premium.
  • We had recruited and trained 86 Creative Mentors and delivered 54 CPD sessions.
  • Our rigorous recruitment process and training support included 36 group professional supervision sessions and 72 1:1 supervision sessions delivered by Educational Psychologists.
  • Our Mighty Employers Network brought together 25 likeminded organisations, committed to youth-friendly employment for those in need, in care, and in vulnerable circumstances. Of those 25, we awarded £500 grants to 20 employers to provide either a direct work experience opportunity for a young person; develop their practice and policies within their organisation; or develop case studies to share best practice.

find out more about what we do

If you’d like to find out more about how Creative Mentoring can support your children and young people, or about our other work including our Youth Voice projects, why not explore our website to find out more about what we do?