Our Impact in 2019

Success for us is a world where all young people are able to reach their potential regardless of background or experience.

During 2019, our work directly engaged and supported 9,136 young people, 70% more than the year before.

We are reaching the vulnerable, the marginalised, the isolated, the under-served and under-supported young people of Bristol, South Gloucestershire and the wider region. We are enabling more young people to overcome systemic and individual barriers and take steps to reaching their potential.

Many young people are experiencing growing need and increasing levels of mental ill-health, isolation, exclusion, substance abuse, anti-social behaviour and vulnerability to exploitation.

We are rising to the challenge. 

1. Helping young people in crisis

2. Building positive relationships 

3. Change through creativity

4. Preventing school exclusion and getting young people back in employment, education and training

5. Working within diverse communities

6. Empowering youth voices

7. Creating safe, accessible places and spaces

Our income and expenditure in 2019

Young artist Leeza Awojobi likens youth workers to the comfort and security of a pocket – unnoticed but essential. 

Excerpts from her spoken word poem, Held in Pockets, are the perfect companion to each section as you scroll through our impact in 2019.

Leeza is a spoken word artist and alumna of our Creative Futures programme.

1. Helping young people in crisis

"You hardly ever notice them,

But they’re there,

Holding the most valuable possessions,

Keeping them safe and protected with care

They’re the unexpected tool kit for life’s daily challenges,

Tissue for tears, comfort for awkwardness."

Extract from “Held in Pockets”, by Leeza Awojobi

The Station is our central-Bristol hub and also houses our gallery and music studios. It welcomes over 10,000 young people from all over Bristol and the wider region, hosting a range of activities and services for those under 25. 

Open until 10:00pm weekdays, when other services are closed, it’s also the place young people come when in crisis.

They come with experiences of despair and find safety and care. Young people who are self-harming, have overdosed, are hungry or have nowhere to spend the night, all find a listening ear.

And they find interest, concern, and solutions. Whether it’s a call to a hostel to find a bed for the night, a sandwich or drink, or being taken to A&E, our youth workers are there for them. And we offer this support across the areas we cover in our work.

Then the follow-up begins with check ins and referrals to put in place the ongoing support needed to turn crisis into stability. Our on-duty youth workers truly are tissue for tears and comfort for awkwardness.

2. Building positive relationships


"For too long, we stared at the four walls of our bedrooms,

Facing our glooms alone,

Trying to find a backbone, a voice, a listening ear"

Extract from “Held in Pockets”, by Leeza Awojobi

There are no quick fixes. Positive relationships sustained over time are at the heart of improving social and emotional outcomes for young people. 

In our small groups and open access sessions in Bristol and South Gloucestershire, we worked with 5989 diverse young people overcoming a range of challenges to achieve positive outcomes. Every young person is different, and of those achieving one or more outcomes:

64% developed new skills and knowledge

63% developed more positive social relationships

55% increased their self confidence

50% developed healthier lifestyles

31% engaged in more positive behaviour in their communities

Ethan’s story

"I can get pretty angry. When I first met my youth worker we spent lots of time talking, sometimes together and sometimes in a small group at youth club. The more we talked, the more I saw that they were on my side. 

"They helped me see that hurting people or breaking stuff wasn’t good for me or for my friends and family. 

"They didn’t tell me that my behaviour was bad, but showed me how I was part of the plan for keeping everyone safe. 

"I’ve also been working on my football skills to help me be more active, which is another way of helping with my anger, and makes me healthier too.

"I’m more respectful at home and at club, and there are people I can trust which makes me feel safer. I’m much happier now."

Through one to one support, young people find a backbone, a voice, a listening ear

3. Change through creativity


"A bird’s-eye view wouldn’t allow you,

to see all that goes on behind the scenes,

From experienced youth mentors working late hours,

To creative teens bursting with new ideas

For the future and culture."

Extract from “Held in Pockets”, by Leeza Awojobi

Creativity is the golden thread that runs through all that we do, and is ambition, quality, cultural democracy and social mobility in action.

Tom's Story

"I got involved with Creative Youth Network when I’d been out of hospital isolation for a few weeks, following on from having Leukaemia.

I started writing songs at 16 and had been writing poetry since I was 11, but I never thought I’d have a career in it.

If I hadn’t done courses and got support from Creative Youth Network, I wouldn’t have the career I now have.

CYN showed me that it was possible. I was provided with development opportunities and they gave me support with a community, a platform to share my work and space to grow and believe in myself.

The arts have brought me back to life. Having had cancer and mental health issues, being able to create through the arts was vital to keeping me going.

In the last year, I’ve started doing inspiration speaking, I’m writing songs and touring my performance piece to conferences about cancer. I’ve worked with Wise Children and I am working at Trinity Arts Centre on a podcast programme.”

Through our creative programmes, young people gain new skills, tools and networks.    

4. Preventing school exclusion and getting young people back in employment, education and training

"We walked around with trembling hearts at our futures and fears,

Insecurities swirled around in our heads and rang in our ears,

What’s the right thing to do…?

Do I work, carry on with school, or start my career?

What does the world have for me?"

Extract from “Held in Pockets”, by Leeza Awojobi

Too often young people with complex challenges are excluded from school, or struggle to find the right training or work.  We offer support to engage and stay in school, as well as a range of bespoke careers education, information, advice and guidance to make the right choices, and the ongoing support to stick with them.

Josie's Story 

"When I was younger I had to move a lot between different care homes, and got into trouble with the police. I knew I wanted to change my life around. I just didn’t know how.

"My youth worker has helped me to know what to do to give myself the best chance. We started by updating my CV and writing a positive disclosure letter, telling people how much I want a fresh start and to give back to the community.

"She also told me about youth club evenings I could start going to. This helped me get out meeting new people, and I’ve developed some really strong friendships. 

"I went on their fashion course and learned to do lots of new things, and we got along really well as a team.  I’m back studying English and Maths, and CYN have made sure I get the support I need from school.  

"I’ve started volunteering at an old people’s home locally and I’m applying for jobs so I can have my own income.  I feel confident, but know that Creative Youth Network are still there if I need them."

5. Working within diverse communities

* Around half of the young people we support don’t specify their ethnicity, but of those that do, 24% are from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds.

"They hold our trembling hands in firm affirmation,

And lavish encouragement in celebration of young people,

They welcome us in our weakness and provide safety and solace,

They give us fun and challenge, Support and guidance, Openness and a space to feel accepted"

Extract from “Held in Pockets”, by Leeza Awojobi

Through our open access youth club sessions, creative programmes, and small, targeted group work, young people find their voice, experience care and interest, and they learn. Safe places that make young people smile matter, providing openness and a space to feel accepted. 

Kayla’s Story

"I was feeling depressed, and needed someone to talk to. My youth worker got me thinking about me, and what I wanted.

"It felt good talking to someone who was there just for me, and was interested in what I thought and felt.

"After a few sessions I felt safe enough to talk about how anxious I was that I might not be straight. 

"My youth worker suggested Proud to Be,  a small group where you can talk and ask questions. It really helped me build my confidence enough that I could start doing other stuff.

"I still go to Proud to Be, as well as youth club, and I’ve joined an athletics club. I’ve met lots of people, and have got people my own age I can turn to now, as well as the youth workers when I need to."

Aliza talks about her life as a young carer and what it means to have a place to go and people to be supported by.

6. Empowering youth voices

 "We the thirty-three,

Thirty-three percent of us young people make up this city,

We imprint our feet into the pavement as we make our mark,

We are all of these...

Flesh and skin and fashion sense and dreams,

These make up who we are"

Extract from “Held in Pockets”, by Leeza Awojobi

We give a platform to young people, amplifying voices that are too often unheard or ignored. By hosting and facilitating events where young people engage decision makers and influencers, different views and perspectives come to the fore, changing hearts and minds.

Lettie’s story

"For me, life’s a bit of a booby-trap. Autism, anxiety, depression, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, unstable joints and a wonky back. These are hidden disabilities and when I ask for help, people think I must be faking them. 

"People take advantage all the time.  I’ve even experienced sexual exploitation from people who are in trusted positions in disability networks, something that I want to challenge and stop.

"Creative Youth Network has been amazing.  I like to think that we’ve inspired each other! They’ve given me the confidence to enrol in college and to begin a freelance career campaigning, and training businesses on how to support people with Asperger’s in the workplace. 

"And I’ve become a voice for other young people with disabilities, sharing my experiences.  Hopefully, in my small way, I’m making things better for others."

Maria Imran is one of our young trustees. She spoke at "We the 33%" about inequality.

We support young people in getting their voices heard in Parliament, and with ministers such as Baroness Barran MBE (Minister for Civil Society).

We empower young people to express their feelings, ideas and opinions through creative performances. In 2019, Rooted and The Edge engaged over 110 young people in the productions, whose creative work was seen by over 800 audience members.    

7. Creating safe, accessible places and spaces


"You’d have to come in for yourself and see…

That self-expression and friendship,

And craziness, and learning

are things we experience in these hubs"

Extract from “Held in Pockets”, by Leeza Awojobi

The Station, our central Bristol youth hub, is one of several buildings we own. These are the places where we not only deliver our work, but also host organisations just as vital to young people, like Brook or Boomsatsuma. It’s a one stop shop for young people. 

We also host other arts and cultural organisations such as Ujima, Artspace Lifespace and Circomedia, supporting and contributing to Bristol's creative ecosystem. 

We run the busiest youth club in the South West out of another community hub we run in South Gloucestershire, where over 50 young people gather most evenings. Our Kingswood Estate is buzzing with tenants to whom we offer affordable rents, from Circomedia, a contemporary circus and physical theatre school, to Jessie May, a charity providing care at home for terminally ill children. 

Our estate means we can provide free and/or subsidised studios and makespace to young creatives on their way to becoming emerging artists. Every month our exhibition spaces showcase young talent, while once a year we commission a young artist to make their own work in our performance space, adding to the experience in these hubs. 

Humans of Hanham

An immersive series of photographs guaranteed to transport you back to your youth club years. They exude the joy, the freedom, the friendship and community as well as the pathos and vulnerability.

Our income and expenditure in 2019

 We are open and transparent about our costs, we know it is important to our supporters. 

Our surpluses go towards making sure we can keep our services going during crises like lockdown. We are pleased to say we have been able to make sure all our services for young people have carried on during lockdown.

Thank you! 

Every year we ask many of you to help our young people. We are always grateful for your support, no matter how big or small. 

Thank you to our generous funders for helping young people in Bristol, BANES and South Gloucestershire!

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