Farmdrop in the Bearpit

As some of you may know, its been a few challenging months in the Bearpit with antisocial behaviour issues rising. One thing we have learned over the years is that the only way to combat the bad is to do more good in the space. 

We are big believers in the power of collaboration and community action, and this week we are going big!

Farmdrop join us this week in the Bearpit..

You may have noticed their ads on Bristol buses or around town giving out free apples. We sat down with Lizzie to give us the lowdown! 

 

So, a little about Farmdrop....

Visit https://www.farmdrop.com/blog/tag/bristol/ to find out more

Visit https://www.farmdrop.com/blog/tag/bristol/ to find out more

 

Our mission is to fix the food chain - it's in a right old mess at the moment - farmers aren't being paid properly, supermarkets are screwing everyone, food miles are insane, we don't have enough access to delicious, local food - the list goes on and on!  

 

We connect small, local producers to consumers using a zero waste, environmentally friendly model.  After creating a working model in London, we've taken the step to move to Bristol and knowing how many switched on foodies and amazing local producers there are, we hope to have the same success here as we have done in the capital. 

 

Why we're good...
- We pay our local producers 75% of the profits (supermarkets pay around 40%) 
- We deliver next day in electric vans
- We operate a click to harvest model - nothing is wasted - you order carrots, the farmer picks them from the ground and we deliver them to you & unpack straight into the fridge if you like!
- All our famers look after their land, their animals and the environment, creating a better world for everyone. 

 

We want to run events in spaces focused on the community and we see a real fit with the Bear Pit & hope you do too!
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BearFit - fitness & fun in the Bearpit

What is Project HB all about?

Project HB started as a personal mission to get fit and get happier with how I felt about myself... and in 4 years it's gone from self-discovery to a fitness blog, to me qualifying as a fitness instructor. Now, Project HB is a range of classes and inspirational articles to inspire people to move more. I try to spread the message that moving your body can lead to all sorts of great things like better mood, better digestion, and a more confident feeling about yourself. It's all a lot of fun and I like to keep everything I preach real. Eat cake! Dance and sweat! Be grateful for life and make the most of it! (And try not to care too much what other people think about you, while you're doing those things).

 

What made you want to run a bootcamp session in the Bearpit?

I qualified as a fitness instructor in March and it was a dream come true. Then I got THE FEAR and started worrying about actually running classes - could I really do this? I mentioned this on Instagram and the phenomenal woman behind Bearpit Social got in touch asking if I'd like to collaborate. BearFit burst into life and we decided to further enhance the community spirit down in this brilliant, social space by bringing a weekly bootcamp to the Bearpit!

What's your favourite thing about the Bearpit?

Definitely the community. I like it a lot because it reminds me so much of my old home (Shoreditch) with its edginess and graffiti and social enterprise, but then it's got this incredible story and spirit which captures what Bristol is about. I am honestly still pinching myself that I'm working with the team and associated with this space!

 

What's your favourite thing about running these sessions?

I cannot stop smiling at the fact that people are willing to get up at the crack of dawn and come down for a session. I preach self-confidence but I'm only human, and the anxious little voice in my head gets to me every week and tells me that I'm being stupid and no one wants to come to one of my silly old classes... and then, every Tuesday morning, I pull myself together and march down to the Bearpit like a determined bear-cub... and every week people turn up, and they dance and sweat and we have a giggle and share some high-five action.

I am so grateful and so inspired by everyone, every week. It sounds cheesy but I can't tell you what a thrill it is to create something that makes people feel good :)

What's the worse myth regarding fitness / exercise?

I cannot abide anything that specifically pushes "weight loss". Yep, you can definitely lose weight - it takes determination and will-power, and when people put their mind to it and massively transform themselves, it is truly impressive.

 But I think, to become truly body-confident and happy in your own skin, it starts with learning to love and respect your body, not by thinking you've got to make it "thin". And that means learning how it likes to move, and finding some form of exercise that makes you feel GREAT (seriously, does dieting make anyone feel great?) when you start to move in the way that works for you, you feel happier... you start to feel more positive about yourself... you start to want to look after your body... and you often lose weight as a result of all of these good feelings, because you're learning to like your brilliant body.

 I often think that, unfortunately, when weight loss instead of feeling good in your body is the goal with your exercising, it skews everything and can make the whole experience stressful and unsustainable. PLEASE, just do fun exercise that you enjoy and the rest will follow! That was a long answer, sorry, but I feel SO passionately about the mindset behind positive, sustainable exercise.

 

 

What are your words of inspiration to the people out there who want to come but are still shy?

Ok so I am an asthmatic, I have cellulite, I am seriously shy in loads of situations and I absolutely HATE getting up early. And I'm running the flippin' sessions! So you KNOW you have a guaranteed ally if you think you're too unfit, or it's too early, or the idea of speaking to new people is horrendous.

I make Bearfit the sort of classes I want go to - massively positive and full of happy energy. You will be TOTALLY encouraged to move in ways that feel good. And if you hide at the back - I get it. And that's ok too :)

 

 

Get to know Carly in 5 questions:

Favourite food: porridge

Favourite Bristol place: it's gotta be the Bearpit!

 Favourite exercise to carry out: spinning

Favourite words of inspiration: everyone you look at and think "I wish I had my life sorted like they do" well I guarantee at least 50% of them are looking at you thinking the same thing. So, y'know, chill.

 If you could do any event in the Bearpit what would it be: a massive morning rave with DJ, glitter and compulsory unicorn dress-code

What are you waiting for?

 

Source: https://goteamup.com/p/1124706-project-hb/

The Bearpit Garden

Sara Venn sat down with us at Bearpit Social and spoke to us about the Bearpit Garden which she built with her team of volunteers of Incredible Edible Bristol!

We invited Sara in the Spring of 2014 to discuss the possibilities of creating a community garden for the space.. 

Today, the Bearpit Garden is one of the biggest, ongoing projects they've been working on and the attitude of her and her team of just powering forwards has been an inspiration to us all.

This week we thought we'd let Sara share the Good News of the Bearpit!

Sara: 

There is a huge amount of work going on in our Bearpit garden. This garden is in a sunken roundabout in the centre of the centre of Bristol. For several years a group of great folk have been working to change the space from lost to loved, introducing cafes, artwork and play spaces to the space, and we are now creating a garden. 

As if being in a sunken roundabout isn't enough, the space also has some severe social issues. Historically it has been a place where addiction and homelessness have been apparent with large groups often coming together down there.

At no point is the aim to alienate this community from the Bearpit, but more to make it feel like a safer, more inclusive space for the rest of the city's population. Introducing cafes, spaces for events, table tennis and skate boarding facilities to the area has made it more of a destination than a thoroughfare. It's become a great place to meet, drink tea and relax.

The aim of the garden is to create an oasis of calm in the city centre, regardless of the fact there are buses, cars and ambulances travelling around the roundabout at eye level in the garden!

Rosemary and Lavender make low lying hedges, artichokes wave gently in the breeze, whilst subtlety edible herbaceous borders surround 3 large fruit trees including Bristol's newest Mulberry. Rather than going round the Bearpit, we're now going round the mulberry bush!!

There has been a whole lot of controversy around this garden. Many have asked why bother? Many have said what a waste of money it is, as it's inevitable that it will be trashed. There has been some substantial social media abuse. 

Gut reaction has always driven me in these city centre designs, and  the Bearpit has been no different. Whilst all the doubters and haters have been busy we, with our amazing volunteers, have quietly planted the trees, shrubs, perennials and 1500 bulbs. We've put in beautiful seats with planters attached. We've stripped walls of ivy and replaced them with beautiful climbers, and we've created a small nursery area where we are growing for all 37 gardens that we support.

We've made a central composting area and one of our great supporters is managing it and introducing a wormery to the space. And slowly an area that a year ago was sad, covered in black plastic and derelict, is beginning to bloom. And all the time the original community, those with hideous issues that have been brought about by family breakdown, mental health issues, addiction, and abuse, are becoming fierce protectors of the garden.

 

When we first began I was asked, "are you making us a garden?" to which the reply was yes, we're making a garden for everyone. Since that first day I have wondered regularly at the facts that whilst all around the garden gets tagged, the garden itself is never touched. There has been no vandalism, no plant loss, however convinced people were that it "wouldn't last a day". And we find the entire community in the garden, sitting on the seats, relaxing as the world goes by.

For me this is just another example of how powerful people are when they just get on with it. Everyone, including me, who has worked on this garden has done so voluntarily, including some great groups of corporate volunteers who always make a huge impact in a day. We've worked in pouring rain, in blistering heat and everything in between, and a community of community gardeners has joined the community of users of the Bearpit. 

Often people ask me why I do this. What would make me work voluntarily for probably 80% of the week? And this is the answer. Working with people, individuals or communities, supporting them to make physical change in their own areas, supporting them to create beautiful, productive gardens in lost and unloved spaces, is an honour. And seeing those people bloom as they make that change is beyond an honour. Supporting good horticulture and upskilling people to learn more about gardens and plants is an honour. And creating change in a city centre, with gardens popping up all over, ensuring good design, appropriate planting and good horticultural practice is not just an honour but also an insight into how the city could look if horticulture was taken seriously. An honour.

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The way the Bearpit garden is moving forwards shows it becoming a micro park. A calming area. Somewhere that will soak up water when it rains, buffer noise in the space in which it sits, works to cool the city. But most importantly it's a space for people, made by people, in order to make change, both social and physical. 

Meet Sarah

Sarah Morgan - Operations Manager for Bearpit Bristol CIC

Sarah Morgan - Operations Manager for Bearpit Bristol CIC

When we merged the Bearpit businesses, it was clear an Operations Manager was needed for us to focus on driving the social enterprise forward. The idea of an Operations Manager was thrilling and at the same time a little scary as we had all been so intricately involved in our businesses. Being owner operators was one of the reasons our businesses were so successful. We are big believers that people invest in people and so when Sarah applied, she stood out straight away. Her passion and drive was refreshing and we knew she needed to be part of our team.

How did you hear about Bearpit Bristol CIC?

I’ve been in Bristol for 11 years and have always walked through the area and seen the changes. Megabus changed its location so I fell upon the Bearpit Social for a pre journey bacon roll and coffee and loved it. Then I followed it on Facebook to keep updated.

What made you want to get involved with Bearpit Bristol?

The sense of community, and the commitment to make the area interesting, safe, exciting, full of life, amazing food, events...

What do you want to learn?

As much as possible. Professionally I want to learn how to manage the different areas of business, and work closely with the team to implement new ideas. For myself, I want to learn more about Bristol, and how to work with the community, and the charities, projects and organisations who are involved in the Bearpit.

How is working at Bearpit Bristol - describe your day to day?

So far it’s brilliant, the team are welcoming and the atmosphere is awesome with loads of potential! I don’t have a set schedule here, but I’m jumping around the three business and learning the ropes. I am spending time getting to know everyone and fix any  there may be.

Finally, what has your best memory of the Bearpit been so far?

On a personal level it was a while ago when I came here with a mate during a photography workshop around the city, and sat in the sun eating tacos, I just remember thinking it was a cool space, and a bus that makes Mexican street food is my idea of fun.

Now that you’ve spent some time in the Bearpit getting to know the people and businesses, what would you envision your perfect summer Bearpit day?

We would have big sharing tables, and customers would be buying their lunches, coffee, fruit and smoothies from a choice from all three unique offerings but sitting together. There would be music in the background, and volunteers doing some gardening. It would be busy and bustling.

As Operations Manager, if you could have an event in the Bearpit what would it be?

I would love to see a regular morning yoga slot - and then people grabbing fresh fruit or juice afterwards.

Anything that would combine food and music ( so maybe a BBQ and DJ decks on the go) would also be something I would like to see!

What do you do with your free time?

Mostly spend time with mates, enjoying everything Bristol has to offer. And eating.

What habit are you proud of?

I will always over feed you if you come for dinner.

In ode to Bearritos, describe your dream burrito:

As spicy as possible. Chicken and Halloumi, lashings of hot salsa, jalapenos, smashed tortillas and loads of sour cream and of course GUACAMOLE


 

Internships at Bearpit Bristol

As our team grows, our responsibility grows. One of the social impact promises we are working towards is creating employment and provide training to help nurture young adults with practical skills. Having interns be part of our team gives us the possibility to potentially achieve both.

We found out about the University of Bristol & Santander Internship Scheme and thought it would be a great opportunity for us to apply.

 

The university runs its own internship scheme to support current students and recent graduates up to six months after graduation wanting to gain quality, paid work experience. The UoB Internship Scheme provides internship opportunities with Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the UK, including charities, social enterprises and start-ups.

For us to be eligible and having students apply was a great success in itself for being recognised and seeing the interest.

 

We sat down with Simmone Ahiaku, our Social Media & Communication intern supporting Miriam in spreading the Bearpit word out there!

 
 

“I’m very excited to work with Bearpit Bristol CIC because they are invoking social change within the city of Bristol. The Bearpit is an amazing space central to the culture of Bristol and I think it’s the perfect place to hold events and really showcase Bristol’s cohesive community that we all love and appreciate. Social enterprise is something I would like to go into after university and

I think working with Bearpit Bristol CIC  will help equip me with the skills needed to be in the social enterprise realm as well increase my confidence in my own abilities - all while giving me fresh and interesting experiences that will leave me with plenty to talk about in applications and interviews.”

 

1. How did you hear about Bearpit Bristol CIC?

Through the Bristol university careers site. University of Bristol and Santander work together with small to medium enterprises and provide great internships that equip their students with the skill needed for future employment. I didn’t know the Bearpit even had an office or that the businesses worked together, and I read that they are all collectively working together along with other i.e. cleaners, police etc to transform the bearpit into a fun, family-friendly place- i knew i had to get involved!

 

2. What made you want to get involved with Bearpit Bristol

The bearpit is an amazing space that is not only central in location but is also a huge part of Bristol’s culture and people. I think we could put on amazing events there that will change people’s perception of the Bearpit. Social enterprise and working with people for the people is something i’d love to get into for my future profession and I couldn’t think of any internship better to equip me with all the skills needed

3. What will you bring?

Ideas! Some of them are outlandish and I’m not sure how I could ever make some of the ideas in my head tangible events but I think sometimes you do need some fresh crazy ideas to get yourself and other people to think out of the box! I love social media and although there is a lot to learn about it, I can operate basic social media tools like hootsuite and I can use social media networks efficiently. Finally, I’ll bring humour and my embarrassingly cringey bear puns- everyone loves a good bear pun.


4. What do you want to learn?

I want to learn how to really collaborate with people and businesses so we can work together to create amazing things at the bearpit. Different people and businesses come with new ideas and way of doing things which ultimately adds onto how great we can make the bearpit. I also would like to learn how to plan events and see all the planning that goes on, this will help me put my ideas into perspective and hopefully I can learn to turn the ideas in my head into actual events. Finally I’d love to be more social media savvy- i’d love to know what to post, when to post and know that our audience will love the content! I would love to have some knowledge on the more sophisticated social media tools and possibly get better at photoshop and design!

5. What are you working on right now with Bearpit Bristol?

We are currently working only launching and promoting ‘Bare Foods’ a new concept to the Bearpit that specialises in delivering fresh fruit, veg and produce to you office.

6. How is working at Bearpit Bristol- describe your day to day?

I love that I spend my days in and out of the office, it gets my legs working. For the most part, day to day is just scheduling social media. We work a week in advance so it’s just about organising what post goes where. I also go down to the Bearpit, see what’s going on there, interview people seeing what everyone else is doing.


7. What would you like to do after Bearpit Bristol?

Not too sure, definitely something within social enterprise. I really love how dynamic the days are and the fact that I am not cooped up in an office- the office is amazing though! Sustainability and food recycling is huge here in Bristol and I would love to work with an organisation that is raising awareness of these issues or is trying to combat these issues!






 

Introducing Bare Foods

One of the most exciting things we are working on for the first quarter of the year is the development of Bare Foods. A new food concept store coming to the Bearpit this Spring.

Offering an exciting new fresh food options in the Bearpit, it will be a new reason to sneak out of the office.

Our first focus is expanding our fruit deliveries to offices with the added service of our bespoke snack boxes and catering options. Our website for Bare Foods has gone live this week, visit www.barefoods.co.uk to find out what our fruit packages are.

Some of you may know Bear Fruit as the fruit shop in the Bearpit with it’s famous £1 fruit bag. Our humble beginnings under a gazebo in 2012 helped us establish ourselves as purveyors of fresh fruit. Over the years Tina has done an incredible job in developing Bear Fruit to the business it is and Bare Foods is an evolutionary success.


In order to make it all happen we are expanding our team.
Joe Heginworth joined Team Bearpit to help us deliver our plan. His role will be the buying and delivering of fresh produce for the Bearpit, growing our deliveries to offices and helping us spread the Bearpit word.

Meet Joe!

 

We asked Joe a few questions..

What attracted you to apply for a job in the Bearpit?

I was attracted to the Bearpit because I wanted an exciting new challenge but also wanted to be part of an organisation that gives back to the community.

What's your background?

My background has been in hospitality and catering and have been managing different premises for over 10 years.

What are your interests?

My interests are gardening and horticulture I also love to travel and see the world.


Bare Foods fruit deliveries can cater for small, medium and large offices. Interested in a box? Simply visit www.barefoods.co.uk and get in touch!


Last year the traders of the Bearpit, Bearritos, Bearpit Social and ourselves merged our businesses to create Bearpit Bristol CIC - a social enterprise with the aim to establish the Bearpit as a destination in Bristol through trading & community activities, events & markets.

Supporting the businesses of the Bearpit directly supports the Bearpit as we endeavour to establish the Bearpit as a destination that is safe and welcoming.

Visit www.bearpitbristol.co.uk to find out out more about our social enterprise

Bearpit Bristol wins at the #GoDoEntAwards

Entrepreneurial Spark is the world’s largest free accelerator for start-up and scale-up businesses. Robin shares his experience on pitching, winning and what it means to be part of the program.

1. What is Entrepreneurial Spark and how did Bearpit Bristol get involved?

Entrepreneurial Spark is a free accelerator program for start-up and growing businesses. Their vision is to inspire and enable positive social changes through entrepreneuring. Social enterprises like Bearpit Bristol do have a place in their program. The Bristol "E-spark" hub helps enable many great Bristol businesses some of which we are hearing about now and others which we will be hearing about very soon.

Bearpit Bristol applied to E-Spark in 2016. We went through a rigorous and challenging entry process. We made it through and were offered a place on the program. The good people at E-Spark said this about our social enterprise,

"We see the improvements that are happening in the Bearpit. With Bearpit Bristol we also see their clear vision, dedication and strength of team. We believe we can enable them to accelerate their success and delivery positive social change."

2. How does the pitching competition work?

Pitching is a big part of E-Spark. Everybody pitches and the standard is really high. With the pitch competition there were a number of rounds voted on by seasoned entrepreneurs and industry experts. From over 50 pitchers, only 8 made it through to the finals. The finals were held in the E-Spark event space. There were lights, cameras, a tough judging panel and the biggest audience I have ever pitched in front of.

 

3. What's the hardest part of pitching?

The challenge with pitching for me is getting the balance right. You've got to tell a story. Our story is about what people can do when they come together. It's about team. There's so much you want to say but only 1 minute (and not a second more) to say it. The pitch fails if it doesn't provide enough information but then again the pace and delivery has to be just right or it won't resonate. After that, there's no secret, you just have to practice.

 

Andy and Robin

Andy and Robin

4. What did it mean for you to make the finals?

I was really proud to be in the same final line up as inspiring businesses like Crowdreach, Rovco, Truestart Coffee, Freckles Childcare, Gympanzees, Hollywood Hero Hire and Tuffscreen. Many of these businesses are accelerating at pace, winning industry recognition, national and even global awards for their entrepreneurship. Though we were all competing the group was supportive with everyone smashing their pitches. I didn't think for a second I would win.

5. What does the prize money mean for Bearpit Bristol?

The Bearpit is not easy. It takes time and a lot of hard work. There are a lot of people involved and a lot of unsung heroes. There has been struggle and dogged perseverance. The prize will help celebrate how far the Bearpit has come and will mark the start of even more good things for the future. We're using the money to put on the Bearpit's biggest community event to date. It's open for all who use the space and all the people of Bristol. It will take place this spring. We've got a date planned but it's  under wraps for now!

 

 

6. What can we expect from Bearpit Bristol this year?

Big things! More food, markets, events & community activities. With the support and collaboration of those around us we will help create a safe and welcoming destination. If you want to get involved please get in touch.


Entrepreneurial Spark works in collaboration with very special mentors, entrepreneurs and professional services businesses. From lawyers to accountants, from manufacturers to investors, they all add great real-time, real-life value to our entrepreneurs. Visit their website to find out more here!

Our soft launch - 3rd December

On the 3rd December in conjuction with Small Business Saturday and a Bristol wide campaign to promote independence, the Bearpit traders (Bearritos, Bearpit Social & Bear Fruit) merged as one. We launched our social enterprise and we are pledging to give the Bearpit 7 years of all our attention to make it a safer and more welcoming space. Fingers crossed, together we will be stronger and it will be our mission to help change the perception people have of the space and inspire people to visit the Bearpit, use the different features (table tennis, community garden, traders) or just get involved to help us get things done. We envision the Bearpit as a true community action zone, breaming with collaboration with organisations across the city to bring the most exciting markets, events and community days.

We are excited.

Team Bearpit
Miriam, Robin, Tina & Simon