So, building work is underway at the Station and things are looking set to open in October of next year (gremlins allowing!). But in fact, the building work is the easy bit. Not least because Derek Pickup, our Estates Development Director and his capable team, are overseeing it. In fact the difficult bit is going to be keeping it going at full capacity when it opens. The second recession is biting and things are tough for everyone. So, there is simply less money around and every time I go through the business plan we have to shave bits off here and there to make it more realistic.
But, this gloom aside, we are so lucky to have such a range of partners willing to engage in the Station and help to make it work. At our conference on the 28th November, over 70 organisations attended to hear more about the Station and start to think about how services will be delivered there and who will deliver them. We have everything from social housing providers to poetry courses, sexual health support to music degrees on offer and now the challenging task is to bring this ‘cloud of ideas and energy’ into a coherent structure by the time we open. This is going to be no easy task but I know it will be ably led by our Programme Director Rachel O’Connor. So, if you still want to get involved please contact her.
What really excites me about it is what the Station can do that’s never been done before. Already we have arts organisations coming together to organise a festival of youth arts, business partners looking to develop work based programmes and counselling services starting to offer more holistic support to young people because they are working closely with other providers. It’s this synergy that will be the lifeblood of the Station and we want to do all we can to nurture it.
More importantly, by bringing together young people from across the City we hope to overcome some of the prejudice and stereotypes that exist. Whilst we have been travelling the city talking with young people the main concern they have expressed has been their safety when mixing with others from different parts of the City. To me, this is one of the best reasons for building the Station – by bringing together young people from across Bristol we can begin to break down these stereotypes and develop a better understanding of each other.
There are other concerns too. Many are nervous about the Station replacing existing services and particularly taking resources from local projects across Bristol. Young people are concerned about transport and personal safety. So these are all things that need to be tackled and the Station Drivers (the young people’s group) are taking them on one by one. We don’t have all the answers but we do have an FAQ on the Facebook page.
What makes the Station such a challenge is the complexity of the project. The number of stakeholders, the need to promote the Station at lots of different levels, to raise money from hundreds of sources, keep the building works on track and making sure young people are at the heart of things puts a real strain on the dedicated staff team at the Creative Youth Network. Really, as an organisation we are probably a little to small to be taking on a project this big. But, support from our partners, our passion and ambition for young people drives us forward and the knowledge that the Station could have a deep impact on individual lives and on Bristol as a whole keeps us going.