Natasha Broad: City Fellows Progress Report January 2021


The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic continues to create challenges and opportunities in youth work. Over the past few months, a variety of factors have impacted young people significantly – including changes and restrictions at school, cancelled exams, and school closures. Combined with a general sense of fatigue around the ongoing restrictions, meaningful engagement can be difficult. For LGBTQ+ young people there may be other contributing factors, including hostile home environments.

There have been some significant social and political decisions affecting LGBTQ+ young people recently, most significantly the recent High Court ruling which affects access to puberty blockers for trans, non-binary and gender diverse young people. Media coverage surrounding this issue, amongst others, means that some LGBTQ+ people are facing social hostility in a variety of ways.

Ongoing City Fellows Work

During this time period, I have been invited and contributed to several discussions at Bristol City Council – some directly involving young people, and some with stakeholders.

In August, the City Office held a webinar for the public, exploring Bristol’s economic recovery from Covid-19. The webinar was a panel discussion with young people across the city, and I was able to recruit and support an LGBTQ+ young person to take part in the discussion. Issues including public transport, climate change, barriers to service access, and mental health were discussed. The Freedom member that took part was the youngest panellist. The webinar led to some discussions with the City Office around engagement and participation, and the webinar was well received by the public.

I have contributed to discussions with the BCC comms team around a marketing campaign aimed at young people around the Covid-19 restrictions. I was able to gather some information from LGBTQ+ young people about their thoughts about Bristol’s response to the pandemic, and the messaging that they had seen or heard in relation to young people, and raised this at the meeting in contribution to plans for the campaign. There were plans to approach local celebrities and community leaders to record messages targeting specific groups of young people.

I was invited, along with Ben Carpenter of Grassroots Communities, to support with the development of the Children and Young People’s Board as part of the One City Plan. After some initial promising meetings, plans have changed quite significantly and Ben and I are yet to understand fully what our input might be to the development of the board and, most significantly, to the engagement and participation of young people within this.  We are optimistic that we will be able to support the development of the Board to be make significant strategic change in the remaining months of the Fellowship.

In November, I hosted an intergenerational conversation about HIV to mark World AIDS Day on December 1st. ‘HIV through a generation’ brought together young people from Freedom Youth with service users and volunteers from the Brigstowe Project, a local service that offers information, advice and support to those living with or affected by HIV. The conversation explored health inequalities, HIV awareness and education, and stigma and discrimination, and looked at both the parallels and the differences of experiences of living through a pandemic – both the current Covid-19 pandemic, and the HIV epidemic. The importance of accessible, accurate and inclusive HIV education was emphasised, and there are several ongoing conversations about how this can be included in the PSHE guidance and training moving forward.

Next Steps

The work to support the Children and Young People’s Board is ongoing, with an initial meeting of the board due to take place in February. Whilst it remains to be seen what the involvement of the City Fellows will be, I am hopeful that there will be ways that we can influence and impact the Board to ensure that there is meaningful engagement and participation from young people.

I am keen to further explore intergenerational conversations, specifically between younger and older LGBTQ+ people, although I think there is scope and potential to extend this further. Thoughts and ideas around hidden histories and the importance of sharing stories and experiences remain important, and the opportunity to engage with and learn from other members of our community feels particularly important during this time of isolation and physical separation. This project idea will be something that I look to explore and expand on during the remaining months of the City Fellowship – recognising that the One City plan, for example, is about the future of our city, and the current young people will be the leaders and changemakers of the future.

The appointment of the creative fellow will provide an exciting opportunity for engagement and to create meaningful change. I look forward to collaborating with Angie to develop something that will enable us to share our experiences and increase the representation and recognition of the communities and people that we work with.


Natasha Broad: Update September 2020


Portrait of Natasha Broad: A smiling lady in her 30's Natasha has thick straight dark brown hair and a heavy fringe.Context: Covid-19/Other

As the quarantine period started, Freedom and OTR worked to take all services online as quickly as possible. Freedom met with some of our members to discuss the ways in which an online service would most meet their needs and used this to inform our delivery. We’re still offering an online session for both groups (13-18/18-25) each week, but using different platforms based on the group feedback. We have worked to ensure that we have regular connection to our members through a variety of methods, including social media, and we have been able to offer 121 sessions online with an LGBTQ+ specific counsellor and with Wellbeing Practitioners, who offer solution focused support around mental health such as anxiety, low mood and depression. We have several members who are shielding due to other health considerations.
Our young people are socially active and have been affected by recent events including the Black Lives Matter movement, trans equality in the UK, alongside recent events surrounding trans communities in Hungary and the US, and this is being taken into consideration when working alongside our members. Ensuring that our project, and the work involving the City Fellows, is intersectional and reflects the rich diversity of Bristol and of the LGBTQ+ community remains a priority.
Freedom have expanded our remit over the last few months in other ways, working with SARI to offer consultation around LGBTQ+ phobic hate crimes. Moving forward, this will include an element of health promotion around reporting hate crime.

What this means for you

Restrictions relating to Covid-19 have had a significant affect on LGBTQ+ young people and has affected the intended impact of the City Fellows project. Having come into this project intending to work with young people to establish and create a project that directly relates to their needs, this has been delayed. I would like to work face to face with young people where possible, recognising that hostile home environments can mean that our members are unable to engage with LGBTQ+ specific services in the same way remotely. I am also conscious that the needs and desires of LGBTQ+ young people may change in the coming months, and local activism is likely to become important.

Challenges that this has presented

A big part of our work is about creating community, and being unable to offer face to face services has changed the way that this operates. As this City Fellows project is slightly different from that of other fellows, in that there isn’t a pre-planned proposal or an existing project to work on, the circumstances surrounding Covid-19 have affected my ability to create something as quickly as I might have liked. However, changing social circumstances, specifically relating to LGBTQ+ people, mean that this project is likely to have greater potential moving forward, as we work alongside the University and the City Office to centre their experiences, as there have been smaller pieces of work locally that have benefitted from the input of LGBTQ+ young people, including the Economic Recovery Webinars organised by the City Office .

What is more/less important now

Freedom are focusing this year on celebrations for our 25th birthday, which took place on July 4th, making us (we think!) the longest running LGBTQ+ project for young people in the UK. Celebrations for this feel particularly important in light of cancelled LGBTQ+ celebrations worldwide. We are focused on making international connections to show solidarity with LGBTQ+ communities globally, including a potential collaboration with China Pride.
Re-establishing community connections will be important moving forward, and a recognition of the contributions of LGBTQ+ people feels like it could become particularly pertinent. Conversations have taken place locally around some intergenerational work involving older and younger LGBTQ+ people, and the importance of documenting history feels more important than ever in light of recent events.

What are your priorities moving forward

I want to ensure that experiences of quarantine and Covid-19 for LGBTQ+ people are collected and recognised. There are some conversations that are taking place around inclusive SRE education, and offering support for teaching staff in the south west to ensure that HIV awareness is included in PSHE lessons. We are also looking ahead to LGBTQ+ history month in February 2021. As we come out of lockdown and the ‘new normal’ becomes clearer, I will work with new and existing members to establish what their priorities are in the city and how we can ensure that their voices are heard.