How can a building make you smile?Reimagining and redeveloping The Courts Imagine a place where a young person’s background, race, beliefs, gender, physical ability and economic status had nothing to do with how good they could be, what they could achieve. A space where they could fully explore their creative potential, receive support and mentoring, and find meaningful work. That place is the Old Bristol Magistrates Courts (The Courts). An enterprise centre to help young people set up their own creative businesses and develop their opportunities. A place where there are no barriers to their future, where the only things that count are their abilities and talents. Thanks to the The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Bristol City Council we are developing detailed business and architectural plans to reimagine and redevelop this historic city landmark as a place that will complement Bristol’s renowned and growing creative industries sector. To get involved and keep up to date with our progress, sign up to our newsletter. The Problem with Creativity The Creative Surplus UK creative industries are a true success story. They are growing at twice the rate of the UK economy, while employment in the sector grows at four times the rate of the national workforce. Creative industries form a key sector of UK industry, generating around £92 billion per annum and contributing more than 5% of the UK economy (DCMS, 2017). Taken as a whole, the creative industries employ about 15,900 people in the Bristol and Bath area. The region’s creatives are estimated to be 50% more productive than the UK average and productivity in creative businesses across Bristol and Bath has increased by 106% since 1999. The Creative Deficit All those positive statistics mask stark reminders about how inequality and other disadvantages are stopping many very able young people from entering the creative industries. White people hold 88% of the jobs and only 11% are occupied by BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) people. Men dominate the sector holding 63% of the jobs. In the gaming industry, a creative field in which the UK excels, 86% of jobs are held by men, 96% by white people. It is also significantly difficult if a young person comes from state education. Since 2010, there has been a 28% drop in the number of students taking creative GCSEs, with a corresponding drop in the number of specialist arts teachers. Our Solution The Courts will throw open the doors to creativity through an open, enabling and supportive environment for those talented but disadvantaged or marginalised young people seeking to enter the creative industries. Floor by floor plan Basement It is envisaged the basement level (the old cell block) will contain incubator space and enterprise workshops for young people. Our plan is to let this space on a short-term and quick-release basis for people looking to develop a business, or starting out as a young professional. Ground floor The ground floor currently has four courtrooms, one of which will be restored to its original condition and offered as a film, television and performance location. The remaining rooms will be developed into lettable spaces for multipurpose use. These will include space for Creative Youth Network services, for creative industries, youth participation work, performance, gallery exhibition and a bar/café.A public entry will ensure everyone, regardless of their physical ability, can use the same entrance. First, second & third floors The first, second and third floors will provide 1,115m² of high-quality office space let commercially and accommodating around 110 workers. These tenant organisations will share our organisational values and ethos for the building.A new lift will connect all four floors, again ensuring full access, while the old staircase will be retained as a heritage feature. We are also considering a green-roof across some of the open spaces covering the rooftop to complement the high-spec insulation, heating and cooling, and energy conservation measures planned to ensure The Courts has the lowest possible environmental impact. About us Blog Early and continued support is key for young people experiencing mental health problems 15 years ago I sat with a young person having a psychotic episode. I’ve never felt as helpless as I did then. I had no idea how to help her, what she was feeling or experiencing as she moved between anger and aggression through to tears and depression. It took over 4 hours simply to get her home where her mother spent even longer trying to get her to take the medicine she needed. I’m pleased to say she did and regained some measure of balance in her life. World Mental Health Day reminds us that we are becoming far more accepting of mental health issues. At the same time, it reminds us of how far we have to go to tackle this growing crisis – particularly in young people. 50% of mental health problems arise by the age of 14 so this is an issue that directly effects young people more than any other age group. It is also true to say that more often than not, these mental health problems are not diagnosed until adulthood. The changing teenage brain, a propensity to take risks and an education system that pushes young people to achieve rather than grow often hides mental health issues, meaning treatment comes later than it should and the consequences are more severe. And mental health causes damage. I sometimes see posts on Facebook simply asking for understanding and a listening ear. Both are useful but they disguise the damage that poor mental health can wreak on young lives. At best they lead to higher stress and anxiety. At worse young people miss school, suffer from broken relationships, bullying or victimization that ultimately lead to broken families, lower employment, drug use and homelessness. How we approach the issue Thankfully, unlike my experience, our staff and most of those in the youth sector, now have mental health experience and training. There are also dedicated mental health charities like Off The Record who can provide longer term support and more targeted interventions. I’m pleased to say that Creative Youth Network now has embedded Wellbeing Practitioners within all of our work, meaning that young people now have immediate access to trained staff who can support them through issues of anxiety and depression without the need to refer to NHS services – except in the most extreme circumstances. Whilst all political parties have committed to increased funding for mental health services, there is still little change on the ground. Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAHMS) still only supports the most severe cases. They also tend to focus on a ‘cure’ rather than long term support. All the evidence shows that two things make for good mental health First is early intervention – when things start to change responding early is key to giving young people the tools they need to manage their own mental health early. Not waiting for things to decline. The second is a support network. Whether it be friends, family or professionals, long term relationship are the key to helping young people to recover and manage their health. Creative Youth Network does both of these things, building relationships between staff and young people and now, with our wellbeing practitioners, we are able to intervene in the right way – far more effectively than I did all those years ago. There's so much more we should, as a society, be doing. What are your thoughts and experience? Let us know. How can we help?