Culture 4 Keeps began as a DCMS Cultural Pathfinder in 2005, to pilot how the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames could utilise cultural services as a driving force to support improved attainment for Looked After children. Culture 4 Keeps sought to develop a universal offer of engagement with cultural services for this group of vulnerable young people and their carers.

We aimed to do this by encouraging young people to participate in our existing cultural activities through an ongoing programme of one-to-one interactions between the young people and their key support workers. Each young person was also given a Culture 4 Keeps card, providing free or subsidised access to cultural facilities, and subsequently measured improvements in usage.

Since that time, Culture 4 Keeps has grown to become a nationally-recognised programme, engaging 70% of looked after children in the borough each year. Culture 4 Keeps has become integrated into our broader inclusion programmes, through exhibitions, events and educational projects.

One Culture 4 Keeps project, Culture Vultures, was developed by the Arts Service, providing looked after children, their nominated friends and foster family members, exploring themes of culture and leisure through photography. Lead artist Othello de Souza Hartley worked with groups, individual families and schools, according to the needs of individual participants.