Centrepoint has a long history in Soho. Right from the start we have struck up relationships with the creative industries based in the area. People from those industries have always been interested in our work with homeless young people because they see for themselves the problems on the local streets and appreciate the positive impact of what we do.
Over the years we have come to realise that the creative industries can make a strong contribution to raising our profile, and it may be that other charities, especially those working with young people, could learn and profit from our experience.
The partnerships we established have included Kiss FM and Rimmel, with whom we created the Club Together concept in 2000, raising our profile and thousands of pounds from young clubbers across the country. We went to PlayStation and asked it to run tournaments in our centres with their game consoles as prizes. As a result, we have had a good relationship with the company for a number of years. Boxfresh is designing a T-shirt for us.
We were recently approached by Red Bull to be beneficiaries of its Red Bull Art of Can 2005 event at the Truman Brewery in April. The company saw us as a match with its brand, and the creativity of the event reinforced our reputation for using the arts for fundraising purposes.
Our 35th birthday in December was marked by a photography exhibition at The Spitz gallery in Spitalfields market. NERFF (the No Egos Required Film Festival) is the latest event that draws directly from our supporters in the world of music, film and advertising, and we're delighted that so many high-profile directors have given their time and money to make short films for this charity screening.
One of the most important lessons we have learned is that you can't deal with companies of this kind as if they were all the same. It's not like sending out direct mail. The best way is usually to find the right individual to deal with in a company - once you have an advocate on the inside, things begin to happen: you get volunteers from the staff, ideas for events come up and donations come in.
Another lesson is that people tend to focus on the big names, but small and medium-sized companies can offer partnerships that are equally useful.