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5 Ways You Can Make a Difference in Bristol  

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It doesn’t take much to make a difference in Bristol

Bristol is one of the most creative and diverse cities I’ve ever lived in. It’s a place where independent businesses are encouraged and more importantly – thrive. In a single area you can find people from all walks of life coming together and talking until the early hours and Bristol’s celebrities are not individuals adorned in finery, wearing the latest brands; they are long-standing DJs and Big Issue vendors with incredible characters. Yeah, I’m looking at you Jeff. You Casanova, you!

When a documentary titled, ‘Where Am I Sleeping Tonight?‘ brought to light the severity of the situation regarding homelessness in Bristol, Bristolians rallied together on social media to discuss what they could do to help. When there was a recent fire down Colston Avenue, everyone was enquiring after the welfare of the students living there. Bristolians are just an epic bunch of people really.

However, it’s vital that we transform this passion into action, directing willing volunteers towards projects which urgently need them whether it’s to serve soup on the streets or mentor children.

No matter what your talents are, there is always a way in which you can use them to make a difference and bless other people. So here are five great organisations which provide opportunities you can flex around your existing commitments. You won’t regret signing up, it may just be one of the best things you ever do.

1. Mentor a Child/Run a Youth Group for Bristol Drugs Project 

volunteer bristol

Help out a family who have a history involving drugs or alcohol by mentoring a child or running a youth group for a year.

This is a great one for those of you who are outgoing and sociable. You can show these kids how great Bristol is; introduce them to activities they can get involved in and have fun with them, building up their confidence.

Mentoring will take up 3-4 hours of your time a week but you can work it around your availability. You’ll be required to attend a few training sessions but after that, you’ll be ready to get stuck in! Transport and activity costs are covered.

Get involved: Bristol Drugs Project 

2. Serve Some Soup

Bristol soup run trust

A lot of us are familiar with the homelessness that exists in Bristol but most of us aren’t too sure about how we can help. By participating in a soup run or helping out at Wild Goose cafe you will be able to actively benefit the homeless, providing them with a warming meal whilst taking the time to actually get to know them as people.

It is incredible how much one soup run can alter your perspective of what’s important in life. Every person has their own story to tell and the story of the homeless is certainly worth listening to. Trust me.

Get involved: Bristol Soup Run Trust

3. Buy the Big Issue 

Are you one of those people who is always on the go? You really want to help those less fortunate than you but there simply aren’t enough hours in the day? Buying the Big Issue each month could be your way of supporting the homeless:

Big Issue helps vendors to determine their own paths towards a better future and then connects them with local services to achieve it.

Vendors sell the Big Issue for £2.50, that’s the same price as your mid-morning latte. Forgo the caffeine a couple of times a month and help someone build a future – a pretty worthwhile sacrifice!

Find out more: Big Issue 

4. Go for a Run with a Difference 

good gym bristol

Calling all exercise enthusiasts and wannabe runners! You may have seen these guys running around Bristol a couple of times but as the name suggests, Good Gym aren’t just another running club.

Every week, Good Gym change up their running routes so that they can assist with physical tasks around the city to help benefit the community whilst also making themselves fitter. This could be weeding someone’s garden or visiting an isolated older person for a cuppa. Boost your fitness and support the local community at the same time; the best kind of multi-tasking.

Get involved: Good Gym Bristol

5. Taste Don’t Waste

The Surplus Supper Club was founded on the basis of reducing food waste to help the environment and taps into the creative minds of budding chefs and volunteers to turn what some disregard as waste into a culinary masterpiece.

So whether your skills lie in front of house, cooking, event management or bar service this can be a great way to build up experience and help save the environment. Win!

Get involved: Surplus Supper Club

Helping a stranger is one of the greatest things you can do with your time and with so many different opportunities, you can choose to help in a way which best suits your lifestyle and personal talents. Give it a go and see what happens!

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Burgers

Happy Bird Comes to Roost in Bristol

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Happy Bird Arrives In Bristol

Taking flight this coming Friday (26th Jan), Happy Bird is the latest opening on Bristol’s Whiteladies Road. Dedicated to quality, this brand new restaurant and take-away serves up fresh fried and grilled chicken reared the way it should be.

Nesting in the Yorkshire Wolds

Happy Bird’s dedicated bosses scoured the land in search of a chicken farmer with the right attitude to animal welfare, and they found one in the rolling Yorkshire Wolds. Farmer Ed’s pullets aren’t cooped up in the hen-house and force-fed grain, they’re free to flap around the pastures and enjoy the outdoor life. Fed on a diet of corn and fresh herbs – with no artificial flavourings or additives – these free-range hens enjoy the good life far longer than the average battery bird.

Clucking nice gaff

The interior of Happy Bird’s  brand new outlet is all bright neon lights, sleek metal grills and clean lines, with an egg-inspired yellow and white colour theme which reminded me that chicken was the order of the day – though that might not have been deliberate. Either way, it’s a stylish and enticing setup.

Diners can take a seat and eat in at any of the benched tables, or ‘Cluck and Collect’ with the take-away service. And if you want your chicken to wing its way to you instead, Happy Bird run a home delivery service.

Feeling peckish?

Happy Bird’s menu offers up tasty treats like honey and chilli-glazed wings, grilled breasts and crisp, fried tenders, making the best of the meat on each bird. Tender thigh and breast burgers made a nice change from the usual beef, and you can have it rolled into a burrito too – all accompanied by a delicious range of greens and salads. A selection of seven colourfully-named home-made sauces add a beautiful ‘zing’ to the meat, complementing the flavours perfectly.

For a restaurant that has taken such time and care in choosing Bristol as a location, I was a little disappointed with the beer selection. I like the Magic Rock brewery as much as the next crafty hipster, but we have so many wonderful breweries in this city there’s no shortage of choice. That said, it’s very early days at Happy Bird HQ, and I dare say they’ll be knocking on the doors of a few local breweries soon.

Happy Bird’s simple aim is to provide the best chicken in town, and I think they’re off to a strong start. With such evident care given to sourcing the meat and setting up a pheasant pleasant space to dine in, they deserve to do well.

Happy Bird sits by the entrance to Clifton Down Shopping Centre, and you can check out the full menu here. For more of Chris Callaghan’s reviews and write-ups, you can find him here.

Author’s note: I was invited to try Happy Bird’s offerings free of charge, and really enjoyed it. I thought you might too, so I wrote this.

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The Big Bristol 2017 Quiz

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The Big Bristol 2017 Quiz

Ere love, so you think you know everything about Bristol this year then do you? Take our quiz and see where you rank on the gurt lush-o-meter.

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Why I F****ing LOVE Bristol

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I know that this is going to sound slightly ironic when reading this; here we are, yet another non-Bristolian who moved here some years ago and never looked back, raving about why they love this city so much, yadda yadda yadda.

But, I’ve not travelled far. I came to Bristol six years ago from the quieter, smaller landscape of Exeter in Devon, so I’m keeping it within the South West. I’m not from London (can I say that?!) insert winking emoji here. I jest of course.

But what is it about Bristol that has me convinced I will probably (most certainly) never move myself back down to the shire? Why do I want to stay here? I thought I might write down some of the reasons why I FUCKING LOVE BRISTOL.

Bristol’s Food

bristol food

Well, let’s start with the obvious. I love to eat, but I never realised just how passionate I was about food and everything connected with it until I came here. There is a strong focus on sustainability, being ethical and supporting local and surrounding businesses – it’s collaborative, enthusiastic and extremely positive.

Bristol is surrounded by plentiful and beautiful greenery, perfect for foraging and collecting ingredients to be used in kitchens. It also means there are farms right on the city’s doorstep, providing us with a great selection of organic and free-range meats or poultry, vegetables and dairy. We really are situated within the West Country’s glorious larder. The food we enjoy in Bristol’s independent restaurants is fresh and of high quality, and it really doesn’t get much better.

No one is jostling and fighting for the spotlight, and if anything, restaurants, kitchens and bars actively promote each other across various platforms and encourage locals and visitors alike to give their city neighbours a try. We’ve got some strong offerings across this patch, all serving up quality and variety. I’ve always said if there is a certain cuisine, or dish that you fancy, you are most likely to find it somewhere in Bristol, and nine times out of ten, it won’t bankrupt your wallet. Growers, producers, farmers, restaurant owners and chefs all work together here collaboratively, and I fucking love it.

The Bristol Lingo

When I first moved to Bristol, I lived in Horfield and had the chore of commuting to and from the centre every day. Hearing the immortal words, ‘cheers drive’ has never grown old though, and now I don’t get the bus anymore I kind of miss it (not the bus journey, but the saying). The Bristolian lingo is one I love and I have learnt many new phrases since arriving here; who knew that getting your hair off meant you were in a pissy? Or the end of a loaf was the topper? I’m not sure I can get on board with smoothing the cat rather than stroking it, and I couldn’t get away with saying I was going to see ‘are muh’ but I love hearing it. Plus, I will never tire of being called ‘love’, ‘lover’ or ‘babber’ by friends and sweet strangers. There’s something so heart-warming about it.

Creativity

I haven’t seen a city fully embrace creativity and freedom of expression like I have seen it in Bristol. Embraced so much so that, in fact no one bats an eyelid. There are often events happening that I just don’t think would go on in other places, and I’m not sure if this is because there is a much stronger independent offering here which allows more flexibility, or that there are just more creative minds in Bristol possessing quirky ideas (I’m going with the latter).

Whatever it is though, I’m not complaining. I’ve twerked to hip hop in an actual fish and chip shop, I’ve dressed up as a hero of Ancient Geese and ran from pub to pub like a madman with my teammates to complete challenges which included throwing crab sticks down each other’s pants, I’ve danced to Golden Lookin’ Chain at the amphitheatre and the one closest to my heart; I led the Big Bristol Burger Crawl with the help of some very special friends, restaurants and a wonderful group of enthusiastic eaters. I would never have been able to do this in my hometown, for various reasons but mainly because it’s on such a smaller scale. I’ve created hilarious memories and fucking enjoyed every minute whilst doing so. Friends and family often comment to me how jealous they are that I live in a city with so much going on all the time, it never gets boring and there is always something to do.

Power Ballads at the Fleece

The first Friday of every month sees this epic club night at The Fleece and no matter how many times I go it never gets old. It’s a no frills, no-holds barred karaoke session basically, with you and every other reveller on the dance floor. There have been many occasions when I have belted out 4 Non-Blondes and Whitney Houston whilst flaying about and being my own air guitar master; serenading complete strangers who also meant to only go out for ‘one’ after work on a Friday. It’s a bloody laugh innit.

Baps…

natalie burger

I couldn’t write down the reasons I love Bristol and not mention the burger scene. For anyone who knows me knows how much joy I get from chowing down on a bap and we are truly spoilt for choice with options all over the city. Of course I understand the arguments for having too much of one thing, but I disagree. I believe each establishment offers us something different; there are places to takeaway, to sit in and have cocktails, restaurants that are better for families and venues which aren’t afraid to try something new. It would be pretty boring if they were all the same anyway right?

asado

Through my love of eating, I’ve also managed to forge some lovely friendships with the teams behind the buns, and their enthusiasm for bringing the best to Bristol is wonderful to see. I often get tagged in burger photos on Instagram and on Twitter, and receive messages from friends and strangers asking for recommendations on where to get their next burger fix and this brings me no end of joy. I’ve been able to meet, communicate and discuss all things meaty with a bunch of new faces which I really love. It’s just another reason (aside from them being delicious) that I will always champion the Bristol burger gods and for some people to call me Bristol’s burger queen is beyond a compliment.

Action for Change

There are so many examples of initiatives and events I could shout out for this example of why Bristol is special, so big up to everyone championing to make a difference in any way they can. Not only do individuals recognise problems and the need for change here, but they actually roll up their sleeves and start doing something about it.

The 91 Ways events have proved hugely popular across the city, and the idea behind it is really quite simple; uniting people through the love of food. Bristol has a diverse range of communities that live together and these events are designed to fuse these different cultures and promote a healthier, more sustainable city. It also allows communities or people who may feel isolated or out on a limb to make connections with others and engage in important discussions. It is ideas like this that allow people from all walks of life the chance to come together.

There are also smaller scale (but no less important) projects, such as Incredible Edible Bristol which promotes the use of land (no matter how big or small) to grow food. The team here, made up of volunteers and partners have created over 30 edible gardens in spaces across Bristol and the food grown is free and for anyone to take away and eat.  This initiative has also introduced a scheme to get schools involved, so that youngsters can see the importance first hand of being able to grow and eat sustainably.

As in every city there are charities designed to help the less fortunate, so this is not something new in Bristol, however the support and willingness of people to get stuck in and help knows no bounds here. People collecting donations of food and warm clothes to hand out to those sleeping on the streets, unwanted/unused scarfs tied to lampposts so that those who are homeless can take them to keep and fund raising events are just a small selection of ideas I have witnessed whilst living here. Care in the community has never had more of a profound meaning.

So Bristol, I love you, do you mind if I stay?

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