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


Creative Youth Network today announces that our CEO, Sandy Hore-Ruthven, will be leaving his role at the end of the year. Over the course of his 15 year tenure Sandy has been a transformational leader, with his vision being key to Creative Youth Network's growth from a local organisation in East Bristol to the leading youth charity in the region. The Trustees wish to extend their sincere appreciation and gratitude for his service and many achievements in the course of his time with Creative Youth Network.

The Trustees have begun the search for a new CEO to lead the charity into an exciting next chapter. We are pleased that Sandy has agreed to stay on for the rest of the year to assist with the transition. CYN’s proven management teams will continue to drive forward our important work to support the young people that need our help - now more than ever. Despite the challenges of the last 18 months, CYN finds itself well positioned to look to the future. Our talented staff, committed volunteers and financial strength allow the charity to deliver on ambitious plans to grow our support for young people.

"15 years ago when I started as CEO of Creative Youth Network, I took over a small organisation with 4 staff that ran a building in Kingswood. I fixed the computers, painted the windows, did all the face to face work with the young people and, in the evening after I put my kids to bed, fundraised to keep the show on the road. It was hard work and hasn't always been easy but we have kept our vision for young people at the heart of all we do. We never stopped until the job was done - whatever hurdles we had to jump. 

We work now with nearly 10,000 young people each year and have nearly 150 staff. Beyond that, we work with and fund another 14 organisations across the region and work in partnership with many many more. Ultimately I am most proud we have given more young people the opportunities and support they deserve.

It is rare you get to see the results of our work - young people grow up and make lives for themselves and despite the measuring and evaluation we do you never quite know how things are going to turn out. But I was privileged to bump into a one of the first young people I worked with at CYN the other day. He had a difficult start in life, dropped out of school and got himself into trouble too often.  But now (in his mid thirties!) he is a carpenter with 3 children and plans to move to Spain with his wife. He is making a life for himself and that is all we can ever ask for as youth workers. 

The wonders of Facebook too allow me to catch a glimpse of some of those we have supported over the years. Some have become pop stars, music producers and business men and women - others care for our elderly or our children or have become police officers or soldiers - as varied lives as the society we live in. And that is the wonder of youth work - you come into contact with young people from all walks of life, with different talents and qualities, shy and loud, some troubled, but all trying to find their way in the world as they reach adulthood. As a youth worker it is a privilege to be a part of that journey.

And whilst I am proud of what I have achieved it is only a small part of the 175 years history of CYN. When Mary Carpenter set it up (at some point in the  1800's - we are not quite sure when) as the worlds first reformatory school, little would she have known what the organisation could become. She cajoled and persuaded the establishment that looking after and caring for young people was better than locking them up simply for being poor - truly radical thinking for the time.

The organisation (called the Kingswood Foundation) has grown (and shrunk) since then but I do know the decisions she made so long ago gave Creative Youth Network a permanence that I could build on. A building and a reputation that has lasted nearly 2 centuries - but most of all values that have stood the test of time. Values that were born in the Victorian age, have seen the organisation through social reform, 2 world wars and the digital revolution.

I have tried to stay true to those values - putting young people first and giving them the best start in life - particularly those who have struggled the most. When you run an organisation this old, you become aware of the impact your decisions can make on history. I have tried to make sure that the work we have done over the last 15 years will mean those running it in years to come will have the foundation to continue supporting vulnerable young people - whatever the vagaries of time throws at it. I have aimed to give the organisation further permanence and reputation through new buildings and new ways of working.   

Most importantly I have tried to keep the values alive - walking the journey with young people to help them reach their potential will always be a worthy cause."

I leave with sadness and pride for an organisation I love - I will miss Creative Youth Network but continue to watch it from afar - I am sure it will continue to thrive.

All enquiries should be directed to Robert Nye, interim Chair of Trustees using [email protected]

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