The unifying forces of sport, food, music and art were harnessed at a free event, aimed at raising aspirations and helping young people achieve their potential.
Hosted in Castle Park on Wednesday, the day saw Bristol’s major sporting organisations, police, military, mental health services, businesses and more offer a range of activities and taster sessions, as well as information on careers in these industries.
Hosted by Safer Options, a multi-agency team working together to safeguard and protect young people who may be at risk of criminal exploitation, the event marks the launch of Youth Options Year, which will involve a series of events, activities and workshops.
Calling the event a fantastic initiative, deputy mayor Asher Craig said: “Bristol has lots of opportunities for young people and we want to make sure they can be accessed by everyone, regardless of where in the city they live. We need to all work together to build young people’s aspirations and help them succeed.”
Bristol24/7 first broke the news about this new approach in May, when Afzal Shah, a Labour councillor for Easton and a driving force behind the initiative, spoke about the need for the city to pool resources and ensure opportunities are accessible to all in order to prevent a rise in crime.
The resulting partnership includes Bristol City Football Club, Horn Youth Concern, Bristol Drugs Project (BDP), Creative Youth Network (CYN), Aspiration, Creation, Elevation (ACE), Back to Action (B2A), Gloucestershire Cricket Board, Empire Fighting Chance and many others.
Bristol City Council, in partnership with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, has received £424,000 funding from the Home Office to tackle a rise in incidents of youth violence and child criminal exploitation in Bristol, through a public health approach.
The first Safer Options centre in Bristol has already been established, with two more set to open in September.
Bristol’s neighbourhoods and partnerships superintendent, Andy Bennett, said: “It’s been brilliant to see so many young people engaged with the different activities and organisations here today and this event will be the springboard to a year of pop up events across the city, which will support young people who might not otherwise have had the guidance or steer to fulfil their potential.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens added: “This additional funding to go towards establishing more Safer Options centre in Bristol is an important step as part of longer term work.
“We need to ensure that together we are capitalising on opportunity to identify vulnerability and intervene early to prevent the harm that violence causes to individuals, communities and society as a whole.”
Read more: ‘We have got to have ambitions for Bristol’