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 the height of lockdown it was estimated the charity sector might lose £12bn. At Creative Youth Network we were looking at a minimum of a £200,000 loss. These sorts of figures get you thinking about whether you can continue to support those you are there to serve. Across Bristol and the UK we have seen charities shut their doors. From local youth clubs that closed in March that may never reopen, to Oxfam withdrawing its work in 18 countries.   

And it isn’t over yet. Those in the know think we may end up with another two years of lockdowns and restrictions until we can roll out a vaccine.

But what is also remarkable is the number of organisations who have proved to be resilient and are still managing to support the vulnerable people they are there to serve. In fact, I see most of the charities I know have adapted and some are even thriving in the face of this adversity. 

At Creative Youth Network we have reached more vulnerable young people than ever before. Some of our courses have a bigger waiting list than ever before. Young voices have been heard more clearly than before and many of our partner organisations have adapted and thrived.

It is a story we don’t often hear. In a time of crisis there is a necessity to shout as loud as you can about how difficult things are in order to get the funding and support you need but it often drowns out the amazing resilience the sector has. We have adapted to austerity and now we are adapting to lockdown. 

The best charities are resilient. Some of how we are surviving lockdown was defined long before lockdown started. Resilience is not something you develop as the crisis unfolds. It is something you already have that no one will notice or thank you for until the problem is at your doorstep. I think you can break it down into four things:

  1. A flexible culture. Above all our staff team have been at the heart of our successful navigation of this difficult time. Whether it is knocking on young people’s doors to make sure they are OK, to posting a video on how to make a pizza, our staff have stepped up to the challenge of finding new ways of doing things. Our culture is one of doing what we can for young people - if we need to change what we are doing, then we will try.
  2. Money. If you have some reserves (usually 3-6 months running costs) then you can ride out many problems. The classic example of an organisation that didn’t think this through was Kids Company. A crisis hit and with no reserves it toppled them.
  3. Good systems. Again, boring, but by investing in good IT, finance systems and HR it is possible to pivot quickly to new ways of working. We have invested for years in video conferencing and up to date IT (to be fair it was not as well used as I would have liked) but the crisis hit and we were able to move swiftly online to support young people and home working.
  4. Good relationships. In one way the pandemic has been a great leveller. No one has been here before so we all need to work together to find new ways of supporting those we are here to help. During lockdown I have met with Government Ministers, national charities, local providers and community organisers. Most of these relationships were there before lockdown and have come into their own as we all try to figure out what we need to do next.

Resilience is built long before the crisis hits.

Charity funders and many parts of Government and local councils have been hugely supportive and the sector would not be doing well without them, but the charity sector including Creative Youth Network is more resilient because we have done the boring stuff well.  We were prepared as best we could be, took the difficult decisions when we needed to, and continue to put our users at the heart of everything we do. 

I’m pleased to say we are reducing our potential deficit thanks partly to our funders and government, and partly to our staff teams who have looked for savings wherever they can while focusing all of our energy on supporting those young people who need us most.  

Could you help us go even further and ensure we are here for young people for the long haul? Donate now:

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