for Arts
& Culture
Combined Arts | Leicester

Soft Touch Arts

An award-winning Leicestershire charity, established in 1986, using arts, media and music activities to make positive life changes for disadvantaged young people by supporting them to develop creative, social and employability skills.

In 2015, they opened Leicester’s first youth arts and heritage centre.

Soft Touch Arts

Soft Touch Arts

Target Beneficiaries

Soft Touch Arts works with young people that are struggling to reach their potential because of family problems, difficulties in mainstream education or other issues which are holding back their personal and social development.

These young people are identified through referrals from different agencies, self-referral, local marketing and through partner organisations and natural progression from one project to another.

Soft Touch Arts’ projects aim to help these young people with social and personal development, improved well-being, life skills and progression with education and employment goals.


Soft Touch Arts’ have a three-stage process for their delivery model:

  1. Access: engagement activities in communities, school or other settings. These activities offer participants the opportunity to try different creative sessions, have fun and meet Soft Touch staff. The activities take place in schools, youth centres or on the streets with funding or commissions to target specific communities or groups.
  2. Develop: regular sessions held at Soft Touch’s arts and heritage centre. Young people move to these activities from the access stage or are referred. These developmental projects aim to improve personal and social development. Young people can also take on volunteering roles and leadership development projects such as organising exhibitions and events, with the potential to achieve Arts Award and other qualifications.
  3. Progress: weekly intensive personal development support including working with a mentor on employability or education goals, volunteering on projects and taking on work placements, developing leadership skills with roles supporting project delivery or peer mentoring other young people, and learning creative enterprise skills through organising events and creating work to sell to the public.

The creative activities offered across Soft Touch projects include art, media, music, film and cooking.


In 2018/19:








  • Soft Touch ran a large intergenerational community heritage project and exhibition (Mods: Shaping a Generation) exploring 1960s MOD youth subculture in partnership with New Walk Museum. The exhibition attracted nearly 35,000 visitors and won the best free Event/Festival of 2019 at the Leicester Promotions Leicestershire Tourism Awards
  • the impact of their work has also been recognised with Soft Arts being shortlisted for the 2018 Leicester Mercury Business Awards Not-for-Profit Award and winning the 2018 Niche Business Awards Charity of the Year for the second year running
  • a number of past participants have gone on to paid employment with Soft Touch

Soft Touch reports that their work has been shown to keep young people out of prison, help them re-engage with education, give them employability skills and improve their health and well-being, and social and communication skills.



[Soft Touch] gave me a different life to focus on, it helped me get away from the bad area that I came from, the bad people that I used to hang around with. It helped me move away from that kind of life, it kept me out of prison. It just gave me a life actually to be fair, it gave me something that I truly had passion for and something that I was able to teach to the youths as well and help them better their lives the same way that I did mine.

Kane, Soft Touch Participant & Youth Worker


Heritage Lottery Fund, BID Leicester, Arts Council England, Big Lottery, Awards for All, Youth Music, Cambridge & Counties Bank, NATWEST Skills & Opportunities, Rank Foundation, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Co-op Community Grant, Postcode Lottery Fund.