The Rife and Brook team at Bristol Pride

We work with diverse communities of young people to give them a voice

Watershed works with groups of Bristol young people – including those who can be marginalised – to make sure their diverse, distinct and powerful voices are heard, and everyone is given a chance to develop their digital skills

Led by Watershed’s Rife Magazine team (Bristol’s youth-led online platform where our young journalists are mentored to cover stories covering all areas and walks of life), these partnerships mean that young people can make online content that matters to them.

What has struck a chord with young people over the past six months? We’ve covered everything from LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) issues to grooming and consent, relationships and race.

Partnerships are about so much more than creating content. The impact on the young people we work with is wide and varied: they develop confidence and self esteem – they often talk about feeling proud, finding their voice, producing something that they are totally satisfied with.

They develop skills and knowledge: from camera techniques to the ins and outs of interviewing, these are areas that are proving increasingly important for young peoples’ futures. Their communication skills are improved too: it’s not easy for some people to get out there in front of a camera, grill their peers and voice their opinion.

And perhaps most critically, it means these young people can take their future into their own hands. Working with Watershed increases their understanding of the opportunities that are out there. Where previously they might not have thought that they could have a direct influence on their future, now they are making informed decisions about their education and employment, and that’s a massive step that will impact them for the rest of their lives.

Here’s a handful of the partnership projects Rife has led over the past few months…

Last summer Rife worked with members of the Brook LGBT group to make a video on an issue they face that would help raise awareness. They settled on one universal question – “What do you look for in a relationship?” – and went out to Bristol Pride to ask a whole bunch of young people (and some not-so-young people – Mayor George Ferguson was interviewed too!).

The responses were brilliant. Cuddles, a good breakfast, honesty, trust, hugs in the morning and dedication – they were all there (as were things like hygiene, tanned skin and nice accents!). What was clear was that you couldn’t tell if someone was gay, straight, bisexual or transgender based on what they wanted in a relationship – everyone was #justhuman.

And a huge portion of people online agreed – the video (which you can watch below) went on to be the most popular piece of content on Rife’s YouTube channel, and loads of people joined in on Twitter by using the hashtag.

Later in the year we worked with Urban Fit, a fitness and development group for girls and women aged 14-25 based in Easton and St Pauls set up to deal with issues including anti social behaviour, drug dealing, teen pregnancies and gang culture. Many of the group were considered at risk, and some had experience of (or witnessed) grooming, so decided to make some short films to explore questions surrounding sex and relationships a bit more deeply.

After training from the Rife team on interview techniques, camera operation and sound recording, the Urban Fit ladies hit the streets of Bristol to ask people about issues of sex and relationships that are all too often not covered in the classroom. The result is a fantastically varied melting pot of questions and answers, which you can watch here:

"I will definitely use this as a confidence boost because I now know I can talk to strangers about different things. This will help me when applying for jobs and I can also link to this project on my CV when applying for college" – Urban Fit Participant

As part of Black History Month in October 2014 Rife worked with members of the Black Minority Ethnic Forum (UNITY) to create a film looking at what it means to be black and how the wider BAME community is portrayed within wider society. Their video – ‘Does being black still make a difference? – was hugely popular and the young people involved discovered the importance of educating themselves about their heritage in order to empower their futures.

"I learnt about different peoples’ experience and understanding of race and that we can make a difference" – BME Forum member

All of our partnership projects involve professional mentoring, workshops, discussions, on the job training and a carefully curated social media campaign. At its heart are the young people in communities we work with – they decide what they want to talk about. It’s about their needs, their aspirations, their skills, confidence, self esteem and future. Here’s to many more voices being heard all around the city….

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