It’s been quite a three years. Since 2017, funded by the National Lottery Community Fund and Department of Digital Culture Media and Sport (DCMS), we have provided new opportunities for young people across the city, reaching into areas we weren’t delivering in previously.

The Youth Investment Fund (YIF) has enabled us to support the personal development of hundreds of young people aged 11-18 across Bristol, building their skills and confidence that will, over time, enable them to achieve their potential.

The golden thread running throughout our delivery was creativity. An investment in creative youth workers who have used their professional arts skills to inspire young people to explore the world around them through creativity and embedding those workers within our neighbourhood youth work teams.

Why creativity?

The recognition that creative activities in safe settings, combined with supportive relationships with youth workers, enables self-expression. Combining the opportunity to learn new skills such as problem solving, all while creating something to proudly showcase shared learning and achievements, is the perfect recipe to build confidence and resilience.

Bringing creativity into young lives where arts and culture is often inaccessible is hugely important. Short courses in film making or animation, dance or theatre, music or print making, spoken word or textiles help develop skills and interest and unlock talent in young people with different experiences and stories to share.

Over the three years we have:

  • offered 65 creative courses enjoyed by 540 young people 
  • taken creativity into 785 youth club, school or outreach sessions, across 15 different venues
  • reached 2650 young people with new opportunities to creatively explore the issues important to them
  • partnered with Bristol Mshed, Bristol City Museum and Cabot Circus Shopping Centre to share their work in professional settings

We have worked with 4 smaller organisations rooted within their communities, collaborating in reaching a diversity of young people. Our Somali girls group, co-hosted with Barton Hill Settlement, worked with Bristol’s City Poet and Travelling Light Theatre to bring alive, through spoken word, their hopes of growing up in Bristol. Overall we have engaged more than 3,000 young people.

Working in partnership

Over the three years we’ve worked with other regional YIF funded organisations, combining our learning and resources to increase impact. Last November, we brought together young people from all our communities to spend time with funders, commissioners and influencers in Bristol and the wider region, reimagining how youth services respond to emerging needs. Together we’ve broken down silos and built solidarity.

Whilst it’s not possible to capture here the extraordinary blossoming of young people’s creativity and confidence over three years, our final, and biggest, showcase of work by young people on recent Creative Courses demonstrates and celebrates their achievements. It captures what is possible when young people are nurtured to develop skills and resilience through creativity.

We’ve very much valued working in this way and want to do far more to harness the power of creative youth work. Our thanks to all the young people we involved, our partners and collaborators, and particularly the National Lottery Community Fund and DCMS for their innovative funding approach which, the evidence shows, has brought significant benefit to some of the most marginalised and disadvantaged young people in Bristol.

In these challenging times the young people we work with need creativity in their lives more than ever. Will you support us so that we can continue providing creative opportunities for young people?

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