This article was featured in the January 2019 edition of The Bristol Magazine
The start of the year is the perfect time to cultivate a fresh desire to contribute to society and put back into the community. It’s a great time to reflect on the previous year, appreciate what you’ve got around you and look for new opportunities to explore and learn more about your immediate surroundings.
Bristol is the right place to be for all of this. As a city we know how to appreciate our communities and celebrate the diversity around us, so if you’re looking to get your hands dirty and feel inspired and motivated to kick start 2019 with some volunteer or community work, here’s a roundup of some outstanding social enterprises around the city to whet your appetite.
The Bristol Bike Project
0117 9421 794
The Bike Project is known the city over for repairing and relocating unwanted bicycles within the community, and helping those who are disadvantaged and wanting to regain control over their lives and transport.’ It provides an empowering service, believing in the strength of freedom of movement around the city and the agency that it gives those who are struggling for independence. They accept volunteers from the community who can help out in any capacity – whether that’s managing the workshop or fixing flat tyres.
Golden Hill Community Garden
Based in Horfield, the Golden Hill Community Garden is an allotment and edible forest. The team behind it believe that everyone, no matter who they are, should benefit from having the opportunity to grow their own food and spend time connecting to nature. It’s an inclusive and accessible space, where everyone feels valued and can contribute to the overall growth and development of the project. They welcome everyone to come and get involved and especially welcome volunteers with physical and/or mental ill health or impairments, people with learning difficulties as well as children and young people with appropriate support. It’s a great example of the positivity in developing Bristol’s urban green spaces.
Bristol Food Connections
01179 276 350
Bristol Food Connections is a citywide celebration of food. It’s as entrenched in the core fabric of our community here as is possible to get, working closely with the Bristol Food Network. Their heart is in sustainable food, healthy produce, balanced eating and mindful growth and food consumption for the community. You can sign up to volunteer at the festival and support the project on their website.
The Bristol Wood Project
0117 972 3219
The Bristol Wood Project is reclaimed timber yard, with workshops and wood stores that aims to transform Bristol’s wood waste into affordable timber for home and trade use. Since 2004 it has been rescuing perfectly good wood from waste – making it available for craftspeople, carpenters, builders, artists, DIYers and even those who just need logs for their at home. Their community and environmental ethos is clear, there are many volunteering opportunities to be had. Expect to ride around collecting wood, stacking piles or pulling nails. Hot drinks and lunch provided!
Forest of Avon Trust
The Forest of Avon’s ethos is to ensure the delivery of as many trees as possible to deliver the greatest benefits to the local community. They look after local woodland and planting projects, as well as strategic woodland development to ensure as many green spaces are looked after as possible in the greater Bristol area. They are passionate about maintaining trees and woodland spaces, as well as educating people on the benefits of green spaces in city areas. You can donate and get involved via their website.
Bristol Refugee Rights
Protecting and strengthening human rights in Bristol, the Refugee Rights project provides solidarity, action for change and a safe place for vulnerable members of the community to be. Supporting the wellbeing of asylum seekers in Bristol is their main goal, providing a space that feels warm, welcoming and inclusive. They help by providing everything from language services to early years and advocacy support. Volunteer roles are available in their main hall and helpdesks – and range of kitchen roles and hosting arts and crafts workshops. More information is available on their website.
Avon Organic Group
If you have a small garden or allotment in the city, and you’d like to learn more about giving back to the community and learning how to be more sustainable and organic this year, the Avon Organic Group may be the perfect thing for you. They provide regular opportunities for growers, or would-be growers, to get together socially and discuss the benefits and practical community applications or organic life. Events include local food growing activities and talks. They meet on the fourth Thursday of every month at The Station, Silver Street.
Help Bristol’s Homeless
Help Bristol’s Homeless is a charity aimed squarely at changing the face of homelessness in Bristol. Weekly outreach on the streets is led by a team of volunteers, but there are plenty of ways to get involved in administrative or media roles, for example. The charity’s goal is to develop their container project which is at the heart of what they do – so if you’re a skilled tradesperson or handy with a hammer, they’d love to hear from you.