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Winners of the Craig Macdonald Award

PDT announce winners of the inaugural Craig Macdonald Award

Three young women from Westminster who deliver community art workshops, and documentary films and news stories about their community are the first ever winners of the Craig Macdonald Award.

Sana El-Wakili, an independent artist, and Ellie O’Donnell and Isotta Reichenbach – who founded Their Story earlier this year to help make community affairs more accessible to young people by using digital technology – were each awarded a £2,000 award.

The annual award was established by Paddington Development Trust (PDT) in memory of our vice-Chair, Craig, who died in March 2020, aged just 45. Due to Craig’s passion for technology, and his work to help improve the lives of people living in some of the most disadvantaged communities in London, we wanted recognised people or organisations who demonstrated how they would use technology either for community benefit, or to meaningfully improve a young life.

Due to the incredible support from Craig’s family, friends and from his former colleagues at PDT, we were delighted to be able to offer two awards this year. Sana will be delivering free online workshops across dance, theatre, poetry and circus to help young people understand the connection between health and well-being and creating art. The grant will help fund her equipment. She is aiming to improve access to the arts in the local community – which historically has been deprived of the benefits of arts and culture despite its proximity to central London – and to create safe spaces for young people to create and explore art.

Ellie and Isotta have worked in journalism and innovation and make films about Westminster in collaboration with the young people who feature in them. They post the films online and host free public screenings, enabling young people from different postcodes to meet in a safe place to engage in community life. The grant will help fund equipment, promotion of the programme, training young people to become citizen journalists and providing financial support for contributors – a lack of which so often prevents people from underprivileged backgrounds being able to make their voices heard. Participants in films they have already produced reported a positive impact on their wellbeing, and an improved outlook on themselves and others in their community.

Abi Carter, Chair of PDT said: “We have been blown away by the support from Craig’s loved ones for this award in his memory, and I am delighted that it’s enabled PDT to support two such interesting, innovative and worthwhile ventures in a year which has been sorely lacking in good news and silver linings. We will follow Sana, Ellie and Isotta’s work with interest in 2021, and hope that this extra financial support will help enable them to develop professionally and, crucially, bring benefits to other young people in their communities.
Find out more about Their Story here and Sana here

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