Ben Carpenter – Grassroot Communities
City Fellow of University of Bristol
I come from humble beginnings and grew up in a single parent household and home life involved equal measures of love, fun and chaos in the shape of addiction, violence and mental health problems within the family.
I didn’t engage well at school and moved out of home with friends at 17 and in my early 20’s mum passed away from cancer. This was my catalyst for change.
I went travelling for a year that turned into 3 years, being in the right place, at the right time resulted in sailing half way around the world as crew on many yachts.
This experience allowed much time to reflect, to grow in confidence and come home with a clear goal to become a Youth and Community Worker.
I’m now a degree qualified youth and community worker with over 14 years practical experience of working across South, Central and East Bristol.
Work we do:
In 2017 I founded Grassroot Communities and it is now an established organisation which operates primarily but not exclusively in South Bristol and is in the process of becoming a Charitable Incorporated Organisation. It is guided by the professional principles and practices of youth and community work and influenced by the positive impact of nature, to deliver a wide variety of innovative school, youth and community led projects in communities on the margins of the city. We engage, challenge and inspire young people and others in their neighbourhoods to be the changes they want to see, improving quality of life and creating real social change.
The following community led project models give you a flavour of the work we facilitate in South Bristol and beyond.
- COMMUNITY CHAMPIONS Learning new skills, resilience and inspiring the next generation of leaders and positive role models through social action
- GRASSROOT ADVENTURES Inspiring young people causing anti-social behaviour in their community to become positive role models
- MENTORING Supporting young people/ adults at the edge of care and custody, and involved in serious and violent crime in South Bristol. I am BCC Safer Options team South Bristol Community Consultant.
- DETACHED YOUTHWORK operating across South Bristol without the use of a building or activity and taking place where young people “are at” both geographically and developmentally. We deliver informal and social education
- GROWING STREETS TOGETHER Engaging all ages of local people through positive activities, supporting them to plan and deliver a show stopping street party
- POWERED BY NATURE supporting and inspiring Bristol schools, youth groups and communities to reconnect with the power of nature
- RECONNECT Improving relationships between carer and child through activities and adventure in nature
- RIDERS OF THE STORM Inspiring young people suffering from mental health to start their own self-help group. Utilising discussion, practical and creative ideas and activities in nature culminating in learning to surf!
How we do it:
When you boil it down, all these projects are based on connection, relationships and opportunities. We always meet and consult local people of all ages where they are, listening and then acting (and reflecting). The community led projects create a safe, welcoming and fun environment, participants feel more open to sharing experiences, telling their stories and learning from each other as well as then shaping projects based on their individual and collective wants and needs.
City Fellows – Next steps:
- Attend training, visit projects (when allowed) and continue to develop, fund and start delivering the Grassroot Activator Programme (GAP). More details below.
- Support the Social Justice Project to making a meaning difference to communities in the margins of Bristol.
- Collaboratively develop an artistic response to the current times and wants and needs of the communities whom we serve with the City Fellows and new Creative Fellow.
- Continue to fund and deliver innovative youth and community led projects that support them to create real social change. We have just funded a couple of beauties, watch this space!
Grassroot Activators Programme (GAP):
Since recently being made a City Fellow by University of Bristol for their School of Education, I have been able to develop the trailblazing yearlong GAP. Grassroot Communities mentioned project models act as engagement tools, interventions, and opportunities and provided a platform to consult and inform the many modules included in GAP.
GAP will develop pathways for young people to believe in themselves, learning valuable life skills that support them to thrive, not just survive and grow in confidence so they are ready to grasp future opportunities in both hands.
Learning from the varied GAP modules, alongside developing meaningful relationships with a diverse group of mentors will help identify and co-create individualised stepping stones needed for each young person to work towards fulfilling their future ambitions in volunteering, apprenticeships, employment, education and ultimately quality of life.
GAP importantly provides a solid foundation of skills and practical experiences to support a localised solution to the widening skills gap within youth and community work and volunteers.
GAP will not only impact on the core young people involved, but will cascade its positive impact wider across all ages of marginalised communities following the many practical community social action, enterprise and environmental projects.
These opportunities will have a further ripple effect in communities and turn people onto what is possible when people come together for the common good.
Supporting young people from marginalised communities to engage, reconnect and fall in love with nature will mean they will be more likely to look after the planet in the future and be inspired to explore working in the predicted future green economy.
GAP widens the aperture of possibilities for young people and the wider communities of Bristol living in the margins and in poverty. Framing realistic opportunities, creating role models, raising aspirations and developing our diverse community leaders of tomorrow.
Connecting young people with communities, cross pollinating cultures, beliefs and backgrounds and celebrating the differences and similarities across the city will positively impact on community cohesion, tolerance, wellbeing and quality of life for all.
If you can support Grassroot Communities in any way and particularly help with funding our fully developed and life changing GAP opportunity please get in touch. Change is coming and it’s from the grassroots and up.
Social media channels is as follows:
Facebook @Grassroot Communities
YouTube @Grassroot Communities