Bridging Bristol Youth Project

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Bridging Bristol Youth Project

We are delighted to write about our recent Youth Project! As part of our Heritage Lottery Funded Activity plan our challenge was to develop and deliver a series of activities and days out to bring young people together from across Bristol.  We worked with South Bristol Youth to create an innovative Youth Programme for young people from South Bristol. The idea was to offer young people creative opportunities that they may not usually be able to access, to provide young people with the opportunity to mix socially whilst gaining new skills and knowledge and to offer activities that will enable young people to build confidence and to recognise their value as individuals, inspiring them to become more involved in their city. As part of our Heritage Lottery Funded Activity plan our challenge was to develop and deliver a series of activities and days out to bring young people together from across Bristol.

Bristol Old Vic

We developed a two and a half day drama project with Bristol Old Vic to explore and celebrate the social histories surrounding the bridge and investigate what impact the Bridge had on people from the past. Katie Storer from Bristol Old Vic used our historic postcard collection to draw out characters and narrative for the young people to discover, develop and relate to.

What were the stories of the people writing the cards? Why were they writing a postcard? What was their relationship with the person they were writing to? What did this place mean to them? These are just some of the questions that arose. Participants engaged in immersive exercises, written work, audio recording and performance to answer the questions and expand the stories. 

The key outcomes of this project were a result of the safe environment created by Katie at the Bristol Old Vic.  The relaxed atmosphere allowed the young people participating to really open up. They used drama to lose inhibitions, gain confidence and get creative.  They put their own spin on the characters that feature in the story of the Bridge. Most of all, everyone involved seemed to laugh every day of this project from start to finish!





Hannah Brady at Watershed worked with us to develop three days of activities exploring the theme ‘I am Bristol’. Having explored some of the stories on display in the Visitor Centre here at the Bridge we wanted the young people participating to have the opportunity to really consider what the Bridge and Bristol means to them and give them the confidence to have a voice in their wider community.  The project used the Bridge as a base for two of the three days.

Day one focused on digital media and vlogging (video blogging). Jon from the Watershed Rife team worked with the group to film vlogs at the bridge on topics that held meaning for them.

Day two was held at the Watershed where the participants had a unique preview of hard-hitting poetic documentary I am Belfast. The film captures the grit and reality of growing up in Belfast but not without warmth, pride and love for that city. The whole film is conveyed to the viewer through the abstract narrator of Belfast herself characterised as an elderly lady.  The screening gave the young people an inspiring glimpse at film-making and the impact film can have on a range of audiences by relating the importance of place and identity.

The rest of day two was spent hard at work devising scripts and story boards for their own films and learning how to use the equipment of the trade.

Day three was back at the Clifton Suspension Bridge where the young people spent all day filming. Each induvial chose a different place to film and added their own character and flare to their work.

The key outcomes for this project was the astonishing teamwork skills that the young people seemed to naturally develop. Their conviction in their creative ideas and the professional manner in which they all worked was remarkable and truly inspired  everyone involved.




Innovation Day

The aim of this project was to give young people a different view of engineering and technology whilst also exploring the built heritage of the city.  

We visited Brunel’s world famous steam ship - ss Great Britain and climbed the rigging, over 30 metres above ground! The team at Go Aloft made sure we scaled the mast safely.

To our delight, all of the participants achieved the climb even those who had initially been apprehensive. And some took a further challenge to edge out to the end of the yard arm!

The next stop was the Underfall Yard where Sarah Murray gave us a behind-the-scenes tour of the sluice rooms, workshop space (with original machinery) and new Visitor Centre.  This tour really brought the significance of Bristol’s maritime history to life and highlighted the importance the sluices and the work of the harbour master is to the city

Our final activity was a hard hat tour in to the vaulted chambers beneath the Leigh Woods tower here at the Clifton Suspension Bridge.  The students learned how the Bridge works and were pretty impressed with the secret underground tour!

The outcomes of this day were rich and varied. We saw genuine smiles of achievement after the mast climb, especially from those who overcame fears to complete the activity. What saw young people acknowledge the task that crew members who would have climbed the rigging when the ship was at sea had to endure – with no harnesses or safety equipment! The Underfall Yard tour really spiked interest in many of the young people and gave them the knowledge to greater understand the floating harbour, the sluices and the active boatyard today – the heart of the city.  Highlights the group mentioned were visiting the workshops and seeing old and new machinery side by side.

Similarly the trip beneath the tower here at the Bridge showed the group the complexity of the Bridge as a structure and boosted their confidence in understanding how it works.  The collaboration and listening skills, especially adhering to health and safety impressed us all.




Street Art Experience

Bristol’s street art is world famous and a big part of the city’s identity so we decided to explore this further.  We worked with WHERETHEWALL street art to put together a bespoke day for ten young people.

Street artist Felix 'FLX' Braun led a remarkable walking tour through the city centre. Felix connected the art to the architecture and industrial past of the city. He explained the importance of place in many street artists work and how that filters through in to their finished pieces. His insider knowledge of the symbols, colours, techniques and styles on display really motivated and inspired the group. 

Felix delivered a stencil workshop with the young people in the afternoon which gave participants the chance to cut their own stencils and create personal pieces of artwork totally unique to them. 

A highlight of this day was seeing the young people respond to Felix’s own street art, asking questions about what influences and inspires him.  The group really made the most of the opportunity to get advice and tips during the workshop. They each created pieces with thoughtfulness and expressed their individual voices through some great creative ideas. 


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