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. 

sign up 


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


With increasing isolation, we are organising new ways in which we engage young people who have significant barriers towards being confident and sociable. 

At Creative Youth Network, we provide a range of activities and services where young people get to make new friends, try out new hobbies and improve their confidence in a safe space. All of our work is based on relationships - between youth workers and young people and between young people themselves. It's all about connecting with others and overcoming difficult life situations by getting support. 

However, we have to admit how difficult it is for some young people to connect. For those who have faced significant difficulties and have been let down by the people closest to them, it takes so much courage to even talk to others or take part in activities. They hear about projects, workshops, groups that are already established - and they think: this is not for me.

The pandemic and engaging young people online has made it even more difficult to reach out to those who already had signifcant barriers. Now we're asking these young people to turn on their video cameras and chat to strangers. Trust that is built usually face to face is much harder to gain through screens. 

Recognising that there are still young people we work with who are finding it tricky to join a group online, we're taking small steps towards encouraging them to build confidence and meaningful connections. 

1. Removing barriers

Our first step in engaging these young people is to recognise their needs and not put up unnecessary barriers. We don't start a new project with a fancy name, we just ask them to join a Zoom meeting with very few others (max a group of 8) and a youth worker they already have a relationship with. 

We don't ask everyone to have their cameras and mics on from the first session. Instead, our youth workers encourage them by having theirs on, being friendly and approachable, just as they are in our youth centres. We are prepared and plan activities which engage through accessible ways. 

Someone might not contribute at all at the beginning, but they've still taking a huge step by showing up in a virtual room with other people. We make sure we're always aware of this, prepare young people for what to expect beforehand and manage anxiety levels.

2. Making it fun 

We play games which are fun, we share ourselves and our personalities, and step by step build connection. We keep it short and sweet, making sure the games involve young people having to speak to each other, either through their mics or through the chat. 

Over time, this means the session becomes time when young people relax and look forward to.

3. Giving ownership

We don't dictate how every session runs, we always ask young people what they would like to do. Sure, sometimes we're met with 'don't knows' but other times someone shares a hobby or an idea that turns out interests the whole group. And that's when the magic happens, when young people start seeing what they have in common and build on it. 

Finding confidence doesn't happen over night 

By building up on existing common knowledge and a bit of already established trust, we get young people to expand and break through from their isolation. They become more confident and sociable, often carrying on with the relationships they've established even when the official group work is over.

This is just one way in which we run sessions, specifically for young people who have significant barriers. These sessions are run by our job coaches on West of England Works, for those who are not in employment, education or training. Social skills are often a massive barrier for young people who are isolated from their communities, and this is just one way in which we build confidence and widen the world view of young people. 

How do you work in an accessible way, to engage young people who struggle with their confidence?

How can we help?