Rife: Championing the voices of young people

Posted on Thu 27 Jul 2017
Young woman with eyes closed
Illustration by Jasmine Thompson, Rife Content Creator 


“Working with Rife and Tomorrow’s People I felt I belonged. There were people from all backgrounds working together but it was really chilled and there was no judgement. We were all in it together”

A young person Not in Education, Employment, or Training (NEET)

On Thursday 27 July, Bristol City Council Cabinet endorsed a report which would introduce funding cuts to its range of youth services including a cut to Online Youth Services, a contract currently held by Watershed through which we deliver Rife Magazine, RifeGuide and Go Places To Play. The proposal will reduce the annual contract from £180,000 per year to £60,000 per year. The majority of our effort is directed to Rife Magazine, unfortunately the proposal is to focus on the provision of the listing and sign-posting services and this effectively removes funding for youth-led digital content creation.

Rife Magazine is made BY the young people of Bristol FOR the young people of Bristol, covering arts, culture, social issues and politics. At a time when one in four people under 25 will be affected by mental illness, 52% of all people under 25 have looked for advice on homelessness, university fees are rising, job opportunities are reducing and housing continues to get more expensive, Rife not only champions young people’s voices, it helps them to develop confidence and digital skills, connecting them with their peers and routes to the services they need.

“But more than anything, my time at Rife has opened up a world of opportunities”

Jasmine Thompson, Rife Content Creator

The core of Watershed’s approach is young people led - focussing on developing and amplifying the voices of young people as the best way to engage other young people. Rife Magazine has also seen considerable success as a stepping stone into the creative industries: our paid content creators (of whom 59% have been from a BAME background), have gone on to freelance or work for: The Guardian, Bristol 24/7, Crack Magazine, BAFTA, Radio 1xtra, BBC, Calumet, Galdem and Watershed.

Since taking on responsibility for the online youth services, Watershed's approach has delivered a significant increase in visitors to the sites and worked with young people and partners across the city:

  • Over 800 young people from across Bristol have created content for Rife Magazine

  • We have physically reached over 8,000 young people through outreach work

  • We have partnered with organisations across the city to create content for the magazine with the young people they work with including: AAA Disability, Black Minority Ethnic Forum (UNITY), Bristol Drugs Project, Brook, City Academy, Creative Youth Network, Freedom Youth, HealthWatch, Mentality (Off the Record), Learning Partnership West, Tomorrow’s People NEET programme, South Bristol Youth, Southmead Development Trust, Young People’s Festival of Ideas, Wecil Listening Partnership and 16 - 24 Independent People.

  • We have delivered work experience for students from 18 different schools, targeting students who receive free school meals.

  • Our forthcoming Rife book features 20 stories from Britain's Youth, whose voices are noticeably absent from mainstream media and news. Six hundred and eighty nine backers have come together to crowdfund this publication, which will be edited by Nikesh Shukla Editor of Rife Magazine and award-winning author.

Watershed will continue our current contract with Bristol City Council until its completion in March 2018. We will take this opportunity to re-imagine the Rife model to leverage the partnerships and fundraising successes we have undertaken to date. We will ensure Rife continues to flourish and meet its objectives of inclusion, championing the voices of young people, and developing their skills for future employment.

Clare Reddington, Creative Director of Watershed said

“We understand the budgetary pressures that Bristol City Council faces but feel that, having worked with Bristol’s young people to create Rife, which has quickly become a national exemplar, we must seek to secure its future with and for our young people. Our position is one of determination, rather than defeat.”

Nikesh Shukla, Editor of Rife Magazine, said

“Rife shows the value of only working on youth projects that are co-produced with young people. The achievements we've had over the years - from one of our alumni going on to be the Guardian's Facebook Live producer to another working up the confidence to do a degree, to another taking the leap to be a freelance artist - each individual journey has been helped by offering the freedom to develop and the nurturing of talent. Working at Rife has changed my life and given my career meaning. It can be bigger and better and produce more award-winning creatives. I cannot wait to be part of the next stage of its journey.“

If you are interested in supporting Rife or wish to stay in touch with developments around the fundraising campaign, please contact Lottie Donovan, Head of Development, for further information.