Radical change

The Bearpit has a way of showing you the worst of human nature and, a split second later, the best of human nature. It’s not an easy place to work and survive: it takes relentless perserverence. That’s why telling our story is always tough.

There are many stakeholders involved in the Bearpit, but our organisation was on the frontlines.

We spent about 300 days in the physical space, often from 6.45 in the morning until 11 at night. We saw it all: the good, the bad and the ugly - we wouldn’t have it any other way.

The ‘ugly’ can get really ugly. It’s no surprise that, in 2011, the Bearpit was voted the single worst area in all of Bristol. Three of the four directors of Bearpit Bristol CIC have been physically assaulted in the space, while the majority of our staff have either been threatened or intimidated. Just as we get through a tough quarter and start to pick ourselves up, something like the synthetic drug spice comes along and creates a crisis in the city.

But we’ve also seen just how good the ‘good’ can be. Our combined social enterprise, formed in 2016, set out our aim to establish the Bearpit as a destination in Bristol. We have delivered initiatives through increased trading, community activities, events & markets, building on past interventions. At our Community Action Event this February, hundreds of people from all walks of life turned out to show their support for our project, and for a better future for the space.

Despite all of the challenges, we’ve seen enough good to convince us that there really is potential to transform the Bearpit and bring about real social change that will benefit the lives of everyone currently touched by it, as well as generations to come.

In all of our work, we have stuck to the basic vision and values of the Bearpit Improvement Group, as described by founding Director Henry Shaftoe:

‘These “values” were loosely: that ultimately, the Bearpit should feel welcoming at any time of the day or night; that it should not exclude any sector of the population (as long as they were acting legally!), that it would be diverse in its offers and activities and that it would feel safe for everyone. Later this was articulated in the vision of: “Welcoming, Safe, Diverse and Inclusive”.’

To this day, we try live up to these ideals. In fact, they were the inspiration in creating Bearpit Bristol CIC. We called ourselves Bearpit Bristol CIC because we wanted the Bearpit to feel inclusive and win the hearts of Bristolians; to feel that it belonged to the city and its people, not to the crime and antisocial behaviour statistics. We opened the Bearpit up to the city by working with other organisations on ideas and events, or simply giving them the Bearpit as a platform. To show the power of unity and collaboration, we worked with people who shared our vision of creating a safe and welcoming destination.

With 2017 coming to an end, despite all the things that were out of our control, together as Bearpit Bristol we did achieve more together this year then we had in the previous years.

However, our journey has brought us to a crisis point. We have to face up to some difficult truths, and ask ourselves whether we have made any difference at all.

In the last two years alone, over 600 reports of crime and antisocial behaviour came from the Bearpit. A staggering figure that made our hearts drop, serving us a plate of reality we had to digest. Worse still, the majority of incidents involve violence towards people and risks to public safety.

In January 2014, South West Business published an article declaring,  “Roundabout revamp will make Bristol's Bearpit 'a gateway to the city''. Coming into the fourth year since its completion, it's a bitter pill to swallow accepting that the revamp has not met its expectations.

Even with our activities and those of the other stakeholders, the long history and the continuing current issues of the Bearpit have proven to be impossible to dismantle.

Despite best efforts, there is enough evidence to prove that these interventions only brought short term social change. The complexity of the issues in the Bearpit have never been properly addressed. Two clear examples were the failure of the Public Space Protection Order and the failure to address the antisocial behaviour and crime hotspots when the regeneration took place.

A different approach was needed.

Throughout our time in the Bearpit, we have adopted the Bearpit Improvement Group’s approach of incremental change. As Henry Shaftoe explained:

‘The idea was to overcome (…) “paralysis” about the site and actually start doing something, however modest, to show that somebody cared about the place.’

We honoured this founding principle by opening our businesses right in the Bearpit. At the time, incremental change was the right approach. As people investing time and money into a space with no security (in all the senses), we entwined the same approach to how our businesses grew.

It is now clear to us that, without a single cohesive vision and purpose, no matter what we do, we will not be able to achieve sustainability and realise our vision of a welcoming, safe, diverse and inclusive Bearpit.

For us, 2018 must be the year of radical change: the year to do things differently and think differently. To expand our social impact beyond the Bearpit, to reach all of Bristol and beyond, and create significant change for the long term.

We are ready to make radical change happen. The last few years have taught us resilience, never-ending hope and the will to make a difference against all odds.

Join us.

Miriam Delogu, Managing Director

Bearpit Bristol CIC


 

Quotes from: http://www.convivialspaces.org/transforming-the-bearpit.htm






 

 

 

 

 


 

Bearpit Blues. Is it time to go? A personal perspective on environment, anti-social behaviour and social enterprise.

Hello my name is Simon, I co-founded Bearritos. That big green bus in the Bearpit. We sell burritos, tacos, quesadillas and have done for almost 3 years, along with Bearpit Social we are a registered Social Enterprise, trying to have a positive impact in the area. Here, sadly, is where Bearritos and Bearpit Bristol CIC have got to after a long and painful few weeks. We think it might be time to go.

As directors, we decided to call an emergency meeting to discuss the current issues affecting the Bearpit and the conclusion we came to was not an easy one.  The only way to ensure the safety of staff and the general public is to demand changes, or leave. We are prepared to pack it all in prevent this escalation in anti-social behaviour towards staff and the general public.

I don’t have a blog, I don’t do Insta, I don’t usually shout my mouth off, but I do sometimes despair and write it all down…

(It’s a bit rambly, so I’ve highlighted some parts for the impatient).

 

“They said we were crazy, they said it couldn't be done. Maybe they were right.

Maybe, it really has been a total waste of time, trying to survive (let alone thrive) in this circle.

So we all jacked in our jobs, careers and shining futures to work here. Below minimum wage, below minimum environmental standards and mostly below the radar. We didn't scream and shout, we just got on with it. We built loyal and happy friendships and customers, with good food and drink. And for a while we changed things. For a little while it seemed that everyone was coming with us. Good feedback, reviews, likes, tweets, bookings. For a while. These little sunshine moments, we quickly realised, were just intermittent lights. A darkness was the dominant feature of our working lives. A pessimism, tempered by dark humour filled most of our days.

But how could this be? We have five stars from the Food Hygiene people, we have a 10.000+ footfall, we built a kitchen, we employed lots of people, we have great coffee, great food and a great big bus. And every day we bounced into the space, and filled it with joy and full bellies. Well, almost every day.

Then there was a creeping realisation. All of the above counted for nothing. We could have had the financial backing of other notorious Bristol food success stories (we didn't), we could have had the support of all of the notorious talented foodies that inhabit the Bristol food scene (we didn't) and none of it would have made any difference. Really it wouldn't. Why? Because of the environment. The physical, political and social environment that has simply not changed enough for any business to survive in. We are putting ourselves in danger every day we trade. Verbal and physical abuse, open drug use, drinking, aggression, needles, human excrement, an aggressive and angry physical environment.

The physical environment is simply not good enough. The area is cleaned on a daily basis and the floor level in the main open area remains in good condition. But the positivity ends there. The tunnels are an embarrassment to the city, they are frequently blocked by street drinkers, rough sleepers, drug dealers and aggressive beggars. Welcome to Bristol, to those who arrive by bus or are staying in any of the surrounding hotel chains. But it's ok because that's what this area is about; freedom, experimentation and the ability to be who you want to be and in whatever way you want regardless of how that affects other people. No, actually, that is not OK, it’s nonsense, utter nonsense. And it’s not “homeless bashing”, as what we are concerned with is crime. Criminal activity that affects the lives of the people who visit and work here.

The walls are covered in tagging and poorly executed, unplanned graffiti. There is no real credibility to the street art in the space; when the highly successful and internationally famous graffiti tours pass through the Bearpit, they spend no longer than 60 seconds admiring the "gritty urban edgy street art scene". No-one has ever said this and it is nonsense. It just helps to maintain an angry environment. Professionals  were lined up to deep clean the whole area and have been prevented from doing so political reasons. What further nonsense.

There is no code in the Bearpit. Freedom of expression equals chaos equals mess. Tagging is a city-wide problem in any urban area. In the Bearpit it appears to be celebrated or at worst tolerated as a necessary side effect of larger street art pieces. This is utter nonsense. It needs only one degree of separation to make the link between tagging and anti-social and criminal behaviour. Allowing tagging in the Bearpit, allows anti-social behaviour which has legitimised verbal and physical abuse of the general public and staff. This is not anecdotal. We see it every day and have the crime stats to prove it. And it is the start of something much much bigger.

Aspects of Kelling and Wilson's infamous broken window theory must  surely apply to the Bearpit. Maintaining the environment to prevent small crimes (including small acts of criminal damage) creates an atmosphere of order and lawfulness, which in turn prevents more serious crimes from happening. Alternatively, not fixing the small things allows much bigger, more dangerous things to fester and emerge. We see this every day.

Fix the smaller things and the bigger things shouldn't even happen. Interestingly, with regards to the maintenance of urban spaces, the broken window theory emphasises how people in the community rather than increased policing can be used to deal with many of the issues. It won’t cost a lot and good people are pretty good at doing good things and allowing people to exist without fear.  

Consistent messages are key. We have a simple statement of intent and some minimum requirements for running our social enterprise as tenants of Bristol CIty Council. We would like these to be listened to and acted upon.

We will not tolerate anti-social behaviour, we will not tolerate tagging, we will not tolerate illegal constructions, we will not tolerate drinking and drug taking. We will not tolerate aggressive begging. Agencies must act to prevent this from happening. It really is that simple.

The responsibility for this informal social control has been taken on by the staff who are here almost every day, but without the physical support of mending those "broken windows" it is an impossible battle. If you challenge people's behaviour/activity, you get abuse, because the environment allows people to behave like this. An innocent person will get hurt, we have been saying this for a long enough and sadly it's not enough to just say it any more. Serious action to prevent this happening is the only way, and that action may well involve us leaving the Bearpit.

The Bearpit currently instills fear in people, and that fear spreads. People talk of "no go zones", social media is awash with "concrete over it" theories. The opinions are that you will never fix this place so what is the point. It's somewhere to pass through with your head down and your hands in your pockets, fingers crossed that you won't get harassed or intimidated. Are we happy with this? Is this true or fair? Could it be different? Is there a willingness to address the failures of the past and look to something more radical for the future?

In addition, allowing unauthorised semi-permanent structures to be built, contributes to the feeling of an unfinished space with sporadic growths of minimal visible value or purpose. The general public have very little knowledge of the purpose of these features and there is a mystery as to how they contribute to the space. They comment on the pointlessness and wastefulness of such structures. For examples, have a look at the structures near to the Bus Station tunnel. Nonsense.

The overt political nature and bias of some of the artworks simply adds to the feeling that this is a radical space, a free space, one where you can do what you want, drink what you want, smoke what you want, take what you want. Even if that involves offending, assaulting, insulting, hurting and hating others. Should we have advertising in Bristol's parks? Should we have political advertising in the Bearpit more like? It would be dangerous to underestimate the impact that this has (besides preaching to converted) it creates a loop of disruptive behaviour and belief systems that are reinforced by some of the slightly anarchic left wing that have giant chips and small shoulders. There’s a place for debate, there’s a place for radicalism, but it’s not here. Everyday feels “radical” when you’re being harassed, intimidated or assaulted whilst trying to do your job.

These environmental failings directly contribute to the social ones. Can we live with the fact that people are unwilling to enter a space, in the heart of the city centre at any time of day? We shouldn't but we do. And that's where the problem lies. We are complicit. Bearpit Bristol is part of the problem. We are the problem. I am the problem. If we continue to do what we are doing we are contributing to this mess. We are destroying what we have been trying to build up. We would be allowing for the potential (eventual?) assault of a member of staff or a member of the general public. This is not exaggeration for effect; it is going to happen and we are struggling with the dilemma of knowing that we will have allowed this to happen if we do nothing about it.

Let's get one thing clear, the main issues in the Bearpit are regarding drink, drugs and crime. The consumption and distribution of drugs and the associated violence, pain and suffering that often comes with this. In the Bearpit, homelessness or rough sleeping are not the major issues that many people believe them to be. This must be communicated loudly and clearly, because the sooner the general public understand this the better. It may be difficult  to accept, but it is true. The agencies that we work closely told us this before we knew, this comes from experts in their fields and we respect their judgements.

So, yes it does seem like an ultimatum, but I guess it has to be. To live with knowingly allowing the serious endangerment of colleagues, strangers or friends, is not something we are prepared to accept any more. So pretty soon we may well be gone. On to quieter, not better, things. Sad that we weren't able to complete the project, but happy that we weren't to blame for the injury (or worse) of people we care about. This can't go on, and it won't.

The minimum standards we are asking for are imminently achievable, but it's the consistency of the application that's the tricky bit. Make the Bearpit clean and neutral, police it effectively, remove dangerous and illegal structures and allow us to use toilets. Not much to ask.

How long will any agreed changes last? How long before we're back here again? The standards require agreement and backing and following through on promises. History suggests that this will not happen. Our pessimism is born from experience. With so much change happening in the surrounding area, how can the Bearpit hope to fit into a city centre that has the potential to be so brilliant, but fails so spectacularly? We think Bristol City Council needs to listen to us, back us and believe in us.

A safe, welcoming, clean, tidy, neutral space. That is simply all we are asking for.

Sadly, with all the historical precedents and political inertia, I fear the worst. The broken window will soon be two broken shipping containers and a broken bus.”

Thanks for reading,

Simon







 

Quick footnote :  We are currently awaiting a response from Bristol City Council with regards to the minimum standards we have requested. Key council members are aware of our issues. However, if you would like to support us then please do. You could contact councillors or just come down and have a chat and make sure you bring some happiness with you.

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