International Women’s Day – Skaped

Sandy AbdelRahman is CEO/Co-Founder of Skaped, an artivist charity that empowers young people to engage with community building and social change through the creative arts.

What do you do?
I am a British/Egyptian creative social entrepreneur, feminist, activist & the co-founder & CEO of Skaped. Born in Egypt, I grew up in east London and am passionate about using art for social action and bringing communities together to create the change they want. I have been featured among the 50-most empowering Nu-Gen activists you need to know about and am a member of the Young Global Changers of 2020. I’ve been recognised by Natwest as one of its WISE100 (Women in Social Enterprise 100 which supports women in social enterprise, impact investing and mission driven business to learn from, inspire, connect and collaborate with each other, and ultimately increase their social impact.) and by Small Business Britain as part of its f:Entrepreneur #ialso 100 Fentrepeneur campaign of inspiring women.

I established Skaped as an east London community-led artivist charity that empowers young people to engage with community building and social change through the creative arts. As an organisation, we run relatable creative workshops, educational programming, and art projects for 11-30-year-olds. Our programmes have sparked conversations surrounding societal change, gender equality, gentrification, migration, anti-discrimination, and the like, giving opportunities for our young people to become changemakers within their own communities.

Why do you do it?
Skaped stands as an Artivist charity, born from the shared vision of its co-founders in 2017. Our mission is to inspire and empower young individuals to actively participate in community building and social change through the transformative power of the creative arts. Through a diverse range of educational programmes, workshops, and art projects, we delve into crucial issues such as identities, intersectionality, and social change topics including gender inequality, human rights, discrimination, and gentrification.

At the heart of Skaped’s inception lies the lived experiences of its co-founders, two young migrant women driven by the desire to create something that truly resonates with and serves our youth. Our ethos is rooted in authenticity and inclusivity, striving to be a platform that amplifies the voices of young people.

We use art as our tool of delivery because art, throughout history, has been a powerful medium for documenting human rights violations, injustices, and inequalities across the globe. It serves as a universal language, transcending barriers of background and class. I firmly believe that creativity knows no bounds and is a fundamental tool for fostering dialogue and advocacy around human rights.

Personally, art has been my refuge and my voice. Upon arriving in the UK, grappling with the challenges of adaptation, I found solace and self-expression through the arts. By providing individuals with a platform to articulate their struggles and triumphs through creative expression, we equip them with a powerful tool to advocate for their rights. Art sparks imagination, cultivates empathy, and conversations and might force for positive change.

What are the challenges your beneficiaries face, and how does your organisation help users overcome them?
Our beneficiaries and young people come from all walks of life, cultures, and ethnicities, with different challenges and aspirations. Through our work our young people gain creative skills, build confidence, understand their rights and responsibilities and become more socially aware. By engaging in our programmes and workshops, participants not only develop technical proficiency in various art forms but also cultivate a heightened social consciousness.

The needs and challenges of our beneficiaries are as diverse as their backgrounds. While some aspire to refine their artistic talents and embrace their roles as socially conscious artists, others might deal with issues such as isolation, a sense of belonging, and the acquisition of skills necessary for effective activism and creating community change. Our collaboration with ELBA has supported us in various ways, from leverage resources, expertise, and networks to attending workshop that help upskill our team, ensuring we deliver the best for our beneficiaries.

Do you have an inspirational story/moment about your work that you would like to share? Or any top tips for other young people and young leaders?
The beginning of 2022 was a truly monumental moment for the Skaped community, as our collective Community Artivism exhibition at Bermondsey Project Space opened. The exhibition was the capstone of our (first!) Community Artivism 3-month programme, something developed to demonstrate a different way of repairing our world – through the arts, intentional community-building, and artivism.

Skaped strives to show how the arts can be socially transformative, fostering a world that is unique, and accessible; this programme demonstrated just how this can resonate with young people.

In our programme, we help young people explore the arts, while supporting them in taking responsibility in changing the world. We hope to teach and show them that they all have the creativity and passion to be artivists – but we didn’t want to just talk the talk, we wanted to walk the walk, creating an intentional community of young art activists along the way.

Seeing the exhibition of works of the young people, showcasing pieces derived from their lived experiences, and passions…it was so powerful. The emotion during the private viewing was palpable; it was most of our young people’s first times having their artwork exhibited, many of them previously believing that this would always be a dream, not something that could be actualised. It was special watching so many dreams come into fruition, but it was even more incredible that it was an experience that we all shared in together.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
To me, International Women’s Day embodies an emotional reminder of the enduring struggle for freedom and equality that both we and our ancestors have tirelessly fought for. It serves as a celebration of the remarkable accomplishments of individuals who identify as women, while also shedding light on the ongoing challenges we face in today’s world. International Women’s Day is a nuanced celebration, acknowledging achievements while confronting the daily struggles that persist. It represents a collective sisterhood—a day dedicated to supporting one another, fostering growth through continuous learning, dismantling oppressive systems, and striving to decolonise our mindsets and society.

What kind of support are you in need of right now and how might volunteering fit into that?
At Skaped, we’re currently seeking support in sustainability efforts, team and volunteer upskilling, and diverse skillsets from events, fundraising, and planning. Volunteers can assist in implementing eco-friendly practices, providing training sessions, and contributing expertise in event planning, fundraising, and HR management. Your volunteering efforts could directly contribute to our mission of empowering youth through the creative arts while fostering a sustainable and skilled team environment.

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