Creative YOU

Creativity is everywhere. Opportunity is not.     

We are part of the solution. The secret is in our name. Every year Creative Youth Network gives thousands of young people a taste and thirst for the arts and culture and the joy, life-skills and opportunity they bring.   

But we want more.   

Creative YOU is our campaign showcasing how we, you and the engaged, emerging and amazing young creatives we support, come together. 

We want to reveal how, together, we are ambition, quality, cultural democracy and social mobility in action. 

Every young person deserves the right to access creativity and development opportunities in the creative and cultural industries.

It all starts with education.

If all young people have access to creative subjects in school, then talented young people from all backgrounds can pursue their passion, develop crucial skills needed in so many industries and improve their wellbeing.

1. Pledge

Add your name and join the many people passionate about bringing creativity back into our schools.   

With all the pledges we’ll be reaching out to headteachers in Bristol and the South West. We hope this will encourage local academies to give more space to creativity in their curriculum.  

Bristol, being the creative city we know and love, can pave the way for other regions to do the same, showcasing the true value of creativity.  



2. Sign up

Join us by signing up to our newsletter where we share best practice of how to support young people. 

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3. Find out more

Join us by reading and sharing our CreativeYOU report which shows how our work brings opportunities for creative expression and enables young people to explore their talent, regardless of background or circumstance.  

Download our Creative YOU report


At our latest We the 33 event, young speakers expressed their views about Mental Health Services in the region drawing on their own experiences and challenges to inform their recommendations.

This is your opportunity to listen to the opinions of young people...

We regularly hold “We the 33” events where decision makers, influencers and professionals in Bristol and South Glos come together to listen to the experiences and ideas of young people. During the event, we heard from seven young speakers – these included a spoken word poet and four refugee young leaders from our Welcome Wednesday group.

🎥 Watch the Video...

What Our Young Speakers Had to Say...

Recently, I delivered a petition to 10 Downing Street campaigning for free school meals for all primary school children.

I’m here today because I think mental health is a really important topic and services should be listening to young people to improve them and provide better support.

–  Dasha, 16

Dasha, was our host for the evening. They are 16 and currently studying at Sixth Form. They are a South Gloucestershire Young Ambassador with Creative Youth Network and also on the youth board at South Glos Council.

I try to explain how I’m feeling but everything gets lost in translation 

And everyone thinks I’m just seeking attention 

So I lose myself in a sea of people pleasing

Hoping one day someone will come and rescue me

– Precious, 22

Precious Adewale uses her gift of poetry to tell stories about her experiences of love, life and mental health. She aims to relate to, inspire and empower people through her work, embracing her vulnerabilities and using poetry as a form of journaling, self discovery and self expression.

🗣 Precious performed her compelling poem ‘My House’ – here's a short excerpt for you to enjoy.

We should be a lot more focused on what young people need because our generation is a generation that repeatedly voices its needs and is repeatedly ignored. A lot of things need to change within mental health services because it’s frankly not good enough.

…what we can do is make charity mental health services more open to young people. Give them safe spaces that cater to their mental health issues.

– Charley, 16

Charley is very passionate about mental health and the mental health industry, especially when it comes to young people. They feel that young people are often ignored and patronised in psychiatric settings. In their experience, needs are often left unmet due to young people being told they are exaggerating or making things up. Charley explained their experience with BPD and DID.

Young people who are refugees or asylum seekers don't necessarily know how the system in the UK works – it’s very new to us and can be complicated to access a doctor or health service. Young people might find it difficult to register with a GP, the administration is confusing and often you have to wait a long time in a queue.

Most young refugees are struggling to learn how to speak English properly, so they cannot express how they’re feeling. Some people may or may not be comfortable talking about their mental health using an interpreter.

– Young Leaders, Welcome Wednesday

Our Young Leaders from our Welcome Wednesday sessions, Menas, Dunya, Mohamed and Ahmad, ages 13-16 represent the voices of young people who are refugees and asylum seekers, who come to the Welcome Wednesday and Thursday youth clubs at Creative Youth Network's central youth hub, The Station. 

Over the last two years, they’ve been raising awareness and educating others on the issues that impact on young refugees living in Bristol, including young people’s mental health, as one of their key priorities.

They described some of the issues that impact on the mental health of young refugees and explained some of the barriers young people who are refugees and asylum seekers face in accessing mental health support or services.

The doctors referred me to CAMHS, but they fobbed me off. They said I needed to get school support instead. But school said they couldn’t do anything, and I needed to get referred somewhere else.

So then I talked to my youth worker. We made a safety plan and did referrals to Off the Record and Creative Youth Network wellbeing support. For Off the Record, I have to wait 8-11 months to get 1:1 support. For CYN I have to wait 8 weeks. 

…young people should be able to get help first. Because one day it could be too late, you never know. Young people shouldn’t have to wait so long and should have more support at school and other places.

– AJ, 13 

AJ is 13-years-old and has faced several mental health challenges including anxiety and panic attacks.

Key Responders

At We the 33 events, we invite some key responders to share their thoughts after listening to the young people's speeches and taking part in table discussions. For this event, we chose people who can have a significant impact on Mental Health services across the region – we heard from Kevin Sweeney from South Gloucestershire Council Early Help and Colin Bradbury from Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Integrated Care Board.

Kevin pledged to listen to young people more – he explained that, whilst the council can’t always do exactly what people want, they should at least respond to the issues brought forward by young people.

Colin acknowledged that mental health services for young people are not where they need to be. He pledged to consider how services could be modernised to suit contemporary challenges such as those posed by social media:

There is some things that I think services could do to modernise. So, for example, a lot of the people working in them may not have grown up or certainly not received training in things like social media and how that can affect people's wellbeing and mental health.

Colin also offered to come back and continue these conversations with young people.


Here are a few of the pledges made by decision makers on the night:

Make spaces for young people to share their hopes and views for what an ideal MH service should look like, amplify these views of work with them and to try and build these services and spaces at OTR.

– Catt Turney – OTR/Freedom Youth

Do more work to build young people’s feedback into services as a core part of services and use this feedback to shape services.

– Kevin Sweeney – South Gloucestershire Council

  • More staff training to support young people.
  • Support more deaf young people to join our camps/school and youth group programmes.
  • Advocate for young people within the conservation sector – more green spaces for wellbeing; more support for climate anxiety.

– Molly Singleton – Action for Conservation

To use the thoughts of young people today and build it into how we shape services for the future.

– Abi Gbago – Bristol City Council


Our young people produced a Zine full of poetry about mental health. You can download a copy here or view it as a flipbook below.

View Mentalzine Flipbook

Thank you for listening.

We the 33 is supported by:

How can we help?