The CourtsImagine 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 Heritage Lottery 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. About us Blog We build strong communities, which no terrorist act can divide It seems to be the norm that British politics takes over all other news but let’s not forget that over the last three weeks there have been two serious terror attacks in the UK. Terror affects us all! I grew up in London in the 70s and 80s when the IRA bombing campaign was in full swing. My parents’ block of flats was bombed because an MP had their London home there. Thankfully, no one was hurt. In fact, as so many in Manchester and London have shown, it often brings people together. The residents association in my parents’ flat became a hive of activity with neighbours talking to each other in a way they never had before. Our elections, terrorism and Brexit point to less talking and understanding throughout our country – between remainers and Brexiteers, North and South, Muslim and Christian, rich and poor. Our country is becoming more polarised and at the fringes it spills over into hatred, violence and terrorism. When we discuss terrorism, we often describe an ‘act of war’. It is a defined, violent and single act whether perpetrated by a terrorist or an army, but peace is built by a thousand acts. A kind word, a community festival or a diplomatic effort. All of them attempts by people to understand each other. They rarely make the news but they are the foundations of our families, friendships, communities and countries. By learning to understand each other, we build our society on bonds that are far more difficult to break than our formal laws. The work done by charities, youth and community workers to bring communities together, help them understand each other and make friends is part of the bedrock of our stable society. Is the polarisation partly a result of cuts to these services? When the economy tanked in 2008, the country has responded by slowly cutting back on these sorts of ‘non-essential’ activities. Surely, we should have done the opposite. At Creative Youth Network, we still do this – with limited funding and means. Our Welcome Wednesdays group supports newly arrive asylum seekers to learn English, meet new friends and understand British culture. We run city wide gigs, events and even hustings, bringing together young people from across the city. Whether it is young people seen as gangsters from St Paul’s or ‘chavs’ from South Bristol – our aim is to challenge these stereotypes not through rhetoric or new policies but by small acts of friendship and understanding – helping to build peace in the West of England at least.