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Quarter of a century on and Soft Touch are still going strong

  • Date: 5 October 2011
  • Area: Midlands
Soft Touch Graffiti Wall 2009

Soft Touch Graffiti Wall 2009. Credit: Alan Fletcher

Soft Touch Arts, the Leicester-based participatory arts and community organisation celebrate their 25th birthday this month.

Soft Touch offer opportunities for communities and individuals to be involved in enjoyable and challenging creative projects making a difference to people's lives through personal development and gaining new skills. They have a strong reputation for working with hard to reach young people including young offenders, looked after children and Gypsies and Travellers.

To mark the occasion Soft Touch have produced a publication entitled 25 Years, 25 People, 25 Stories, a collection of 25 interviews with people whose lives have been changed as a result of working with the organisation.

The stories illustrate how people have explored their creativity and re-engaged with learning and employment, adopted healthier lifestyles or avoided future involvement with crime.

Having started in shabby premises, known as The Shack in Sanvey Gate, Soft Touch once shared a building with an Islamic Morgue before finally settling in their current premises in Hartopp Road, Leicester.

Peter Knott, Regional Director, said: 'Soft Touch is an adaptable, flexible, sustainable and successful organisation.  I think in large part this success stems from their relevance to the people they serve, combined with a commitment to excellent art.'

Vince Attwood, one of the founder-partners said: 'Back in the 1980s Soft Touch was the only arts organisation with a community focussed approach - a lot has changed since then.

'I'm most proud of our outreach work - it's art for arts sake, because it's good for the soul.

'One young man we work with says that the difference is not that he's stopped offending - it's that he gets up in the morning excited about what he's going to do that day. That's the power of what Soft Touch do and everyone needs that in their lives.'