Category Archives: Learning, Skills, and Young People

Getting ready for summer with Your Holiday Hub

Councillor Asher Craig is pictured, smiling, with a bush in the background.
This blog is from Cllr Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor for Children Services, Education, and Equalities and Labour Councillor for St George West ward.

With only a few weeks to go until schools break up and children enjoy six weeks of summer, we are celebrating the return of Your Holiday Hub (YHH).

YHH is a programme created specifically for children and young people who receive benefits-related free school meals, giving them access to fully-funded, fun activities during the school holidays. Thousands of children and young people, and their families, have already benefitted from our previous iterations of Your Holiday Hub.

Nearly 20,000 children in our city receive benefits-related free school meals and this support should continue even when term finishes. With funding through the government’s Holiday Activity and Food (HAF) programme of around £1.8 million for this financial year we are able to do that, providing equal access to fun and engaging activities that also support healthy and active lives.

In addition to the activities, children and young people also receive a free meal from the organisation running the activity which are healthy and delicious.

Results from 2023’s Quality of Life survey showed that food insecurity is worse than last year and pre-pandemic. Eight per cent of respondents told us they are now experiencing moderate or worse food insecurity, doubling to 16 per cent in the most deprived areas.

YHH activities run in Bristol wards where there is a high number of people receiving benefits-related free school meals and so providing them with a free meal as well is hugely beneficial.

Activities on offer include cookery, crafts, sports, day trips, performing arts and much more. Families can see what’s on offer in July and August by using the YHH website where you can filter by age, activity and location.

We have around 65 organisations across the city that help provide YHH and we are so grateful for their hard work and dedication in providing such great sessions that support families in and around the city.

To book onto any of the activities, contact each individual provider who will be able to confirm if you’re eligible. Full details of the eligibility criteria is available on the Your Holiday Hub website. If you’re unsure if you’re eligible, complete our get in touch form and someone will contact you.

Young people and parents attend a pond, with an allotment in the background. This is at Your Holiday Hub's activities club.

If you have a child with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) or they have an education, health and care plan, please contact the organisers of each session where you can discuss your child’s individual needs and how they can best be supported on the day.

If you are not eligible for the fully funded sessions, plenty of paid for activities will be added to the site to enjoy, so take a look in the run up to the holidays and find something near you.

The YHH programme also has a strong focus on food, encouraging children and young people to have a greater understanding of how it is produced, what makes a nutritious meal and how it supports your health and wellbeing.

Children from Your Holiday Hub, playing on a football pitch, running towards the camera smiling.

We have been working with the Bristol Food Network, as well as a diverse range of partners, to develop the recently launched Bristol Good Food 2030: A One City Framework for Action. Together, we can reduce food poverty, support families and create a food system that works better for everyone in Bristol.

The school holidays can often bring added pressures for parents, and we understand that there are many families struggling at the moment. In many cases, the national cost of living crisis is putting pressure on people to make the very real choice between food and other household costs. Please reach out for help if you need it, there are lots of charities and organisations that can help you.

Visit our cost of living support webpage where you will find information about food services, plus other advice on benefits and financial help, employment as well as mental health. 

Sharing first thoughts on fostering this Foster Care Fortnight

Pippa and Alex are pictured, smiling, with a bush in the background.
Today’s guest blog is from Pippa and Alex, a couple who have recently started their fostering journey with Bristol City Council.

A spare bedroom, a poem by Alex:

A spare bedroom.

Semi-retirement, some spare time and energy.

In the marvellous film, The Quiet Girl (from the book ‘Foster’ by Claire Keegan) we saw how a few weeks, a couple of months, of ordinary, simple human kindness suggested the possibility of really making a difference to another person’s life.

 “So, let’s give it ago, in our house”.

And our first experience of fostering?

We learned a lot, did and gave what we could and got so much more back.


We decided to give it a go for several reasons; we had two spare rooms, a little time to give as a couple and greatly admired two people who had given respite to young people in care.

We were apprehensive, unsure if we could do it, wondering if we were too old.

It was interesting from the start, we found the training fascinating, to think about our own parenting and childhoods, and we enjoyed working together.

Our social worker introduced us slowly and we started by giving respite care to two young children. It went well. We felt surer of what we had to offer and were full of admiration for their curiosity, energy and fun. The joy they had for life.

We then were asked to provide foster care to a 14-year-old boy. We were more apprehensive but decided to give it a go.

From the minute we met, we all got on. It has been a total joy to share our home with this teenager. Before we met, I had thought we would provide stability, consistency and safety and be challenged by emotional behaviour – that was a misconception.

A picture of three children, sitting alongside each other in a field.

We have learnt so much from this lively, inquisitive and bright young person. He was always ready to try new things, share his views on the world, and discuss ideas with us.

We found our cats gave him huge solace, also the time spent together on walks and sharing domestic tasks gave space to share stories and memories from the past – an important story for us to listen to.

We provided two months emergency foster care while a long-term placement was found. Those eight weeks flew by, and we feel privileged to have got to know and care for this wonderful, curious, capable, friendly, sociable, kind, helpful and compassionate boy who is hopeful for his future.

We always felt supported by a great team of social workers, teachers and an amazing young male mentor who all provided a supportive belief in a positive future.

Saying goodbye was hard, and we will provide respite when needed.

Being a foster carer is more than rewarding – it is deeply fulfilling, full of new learning and surprises, challenging your own preconceptions about children in care.

It has been a really important step in our own life and we discovered strengths we hadn’t recognised or necessarily valued.

We wholeheartedly encourage anyone who can give their time, has a home with a little space, and is interested in trying something new to give it a go.


If you’re one of our foster carers and you’re thinking about recommending someone to become a foster carer, you will now get £500 when they foster with Bristol City Council – double the previous rate! Find out more about our Refer a Friend scheme on the Fostering Bristol website.

We have also recently increased our allowances for foster carers, and you can now get up to £466 a week. If you are interested in becoming a foster carer, you can get in touch with Fostering Bristol for an informal chat on 0117 353 4200 or you can visit

Alternatively, if you are interested in fostering but not ready to take the step yet, there are other ways you can get involved.

Reconstruct provide an independent visiting service for children in care. This service finds volunteers who can commit two to three hours a month and then matches them with children and young people, aged 8-18, to take them out to do activities, such as going to the cinema, bowling, enjoying a meal, playing football, etc.

They are always seeking volunteers and are particularly keen to hear from men and people aged 25-50. Express an interest by contacting Reconstruct on

The Importance of Somewhere to Study

Lucy Collins is pictured smiling, with a bookshelf and books in the background.
Today’s guest blog is from Lucy Collins, the University of Bristol’s Director of Home Recruitment and Conversion

Education remains one of the most powerful tools in society. Our city’s schools do a fantastic job of teaching and supporting learners across Bristol. Educational outcomes are rising, and more young people are going on to further and higher education. Bristol is full of brilliant minds. But the national cost-of-living crisis and the difficulty in accessing warm, quiet study spaces at the end of the school day, remains a challenge.

At the University of Bristol, we wanted to come up with a creative solution to this problem and make an active contribution to the city’s Welcoming Spaces network. We wanted to evidence our commitment to creating spaces in which young people could come together as a community, support one another and find solutions to shared problems. For us, that meant funding the development of a homework club.

We knew from our sponsorship of the IntoUniversity Bristol East and South centres that there was a demand for this kind of support, with many families on waiting lists. We knew we had a team of people with the experience and enthusiasm to help. And we soon realised that any provision needed to be based within the heart of communities, without expecting young people to travel to the University’s buildings.

So, we came to the Wellspring Settlement in Barton Hill, one of the city’s 100 Welcoming Spaces. A thriving community centre, the site on Ducie Road was the perfect venue for what’s become a homework and learning club for Year 9 to 13 students. Many of those who come to the club attend nearby schools such as City Academy, Bristol Brunel, and Bristol Metropolitan Academies. Others live in the area and attend schools further afield, including Cotham and St Mary Redcliffe & Temple. All are able to access individual coaching and support from the IntoUniversity team, take part in group work and work on collective challenges.

Young people are pictured doing their homework at a IntoUniversity support club.

The University, with the support of philanthropic donations, has provided free laptops, Wi-Fi, learning materials and funded members of IntoUniversity staff. Up to 50 young people a week are attending the sessions which started in February and will run for the rest of the academic year. The young people who attend are able to use their time to complete course work, prepare for exams and meet new friends.

We hope that the sessions will continue to provide the space and support the city’s learners needs. We look forward to exploring the potential to expand this model to other parts of the city, working with the council to ensure social justice, educational equity, and inclusion for all.

A young person is pictured doing their homework at a IntoUniversity support club.

St Werburgh’s Primary School takes over the Council Chamber

Bristol's Council chamber is pictured with students from St Werburghs primary school debating. Pupils are pictured speaking from the dais.

In March, Councillor Amirah Cole welcomed Year Four pupils from St Werburgh’s Primary School to City Hall, where they gave impassioned speeches about their priorities for Bristol. You may have seen them making headlines recently, as they held a protest against idling outside their school, brandishing banners such as ‘switch off so we don’t cough’. Clearly, these young people are set out to make the change they want to see.

I was very impressed about what they had to say in City Hall. Not only did they look at the challenges facing our city, but they put forward solutions too — with more maturity than we sometimes hear in the Chamber! I suggested that they share reflections on their visit, so that I could share it with the wider city. Here’s what they said:

Today we went to City Hall. We loved visiting because it was the first time we had been there. It was very interesting and fun. Councillor Amirah Cole told us about how she helps other people and why she loves doing this. We wrote and performed speeches about what we want to change about Bristol.

“Our speeches were about:

·       Looking after nature

·       Stopping racism

·       Not dropping litter

·       Stopping smoking

·       More green spaces

·       Homelessness

Bristol's council chamber is pictured. With students from St Werburghs Primary School speaking from the dais.

“The Chamber was huge and we felt nervous. We thought the best speakers were loud and had clear pronunciation. We had to project our voices confidently so everyone could hear.

We thought about solutions. To look after nature we could not drop litter, drive less, and respect animals and nature. We could also plant more trees. We could help people with homelessness by lowering the price of petrol, making electricity in homes cheaper and lowering the price of rent.

Their speech topics reflect issues that are important for children and young people in our city them; these issues are also priorities for Bristolians and for us as an administration.

Our administration has always prioritised addressing the climate and ecological emergencies, the housing crisis, and the national cost-of-living crisis. Likewise, we heard speeches about tackling racism, improving public health, and keeping our streets tidy – all very important subjects on which we have acted.

It’s reassuring to hear that our future city leaders recognise the importance of addressing these issues and want this work continued. I’ve always believed it’s important it is to make sure young people can have their voices heard, as it puts them on a path to engaging with politics throughout their lives.

We have sought to amplify young people’s voices through the Youth Mayors and the Youth Council – with youth councillors now sitting on both our One City Transport Board and Young Peoples’ Board, directly shaping transport in our city.

The involvement of young people in Bristol’s politics should continue long into the future. If any of the pupils at St Werburgh’s are reading this: I hope this is only the start of your efforts to make the world a better place.

Students from St Werburghs primary school are picture speaking at an event hold in Bristol's council chamber.

Your Holiday Hub: supporting families during the Easter school holidays

Councillor Asher Craig is pictured, smiling, with trees behind her.
This blog is from Cllr Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor for Children Services, Education, and Equalities and Labour Councillor for St George West ward.

With the Easter school holidays just around the corner, activity providers across Bristol are gearing up to welcome thousands of children and young people as part of our Your Holiday Hub programme.

Every weekday over the Easter school holidays (3 April to 14 April) fun activities and food clubs will run across Bristol, including arts and craft, sports camp, and forest school. Children and young people from Reception to Year 11 who receive benefits related free school meals during term time will be able to access Your Holiday Hub for free. Alongside Your Holiday Hub, children and young people who receive free school meals will also receive free school meal vouchers for the duration of the school holidays.

Central to the Your Holiday Hub programme is food. Children and young people participating in Your Holiday Hub activities will receive a free hot meal with each four-hour activity. The aim of the programme is to ensure our children and young people have access to healthy meals during the school holidays. We also want them to be inspired to take in interest in where their food comes from and what it means to lead a healthy lifestyle through interactive food workshops.

Food is a source of celebration and connection, it connects families, communities, and cultures. Easter celebrations are often associated with food following 40 days of Lent, where traditionally food is restricted. This year, the Easter school holidays also coincide with the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. With over 31,000 Muslims in Bristol, Ramadan is considered the most important time of the year for many families. During this period, observers of the tradition refrain from eating, drinking and other physical needs from dawn until dusk. However, the significance of food during Ramadan cannot be overstated because it’s the time when friends and families come together in the evening to break the fast, strengthening their community bonds through food. This year, several activity providers are catering for families who are partaking in Ramadan by offering evening meals and food to take home.

Young people and parents attend a pond, with an allotment in the background. This is at Your Holiday Hub's activities club.

Learning Partnership West is one of the providers offering food and activities over the holidays. Pete Woods, head of Learning Partnership West (LPW) has told us:

“We run weekly LPW Urban Park sessions in Barton Hill and have done for ten years. The aim of this project is to deliver high quality activities in one of the most diverse communities in Bristol.

“As the holidays fall during Ramadan, we will be making some special adjustments to our provision. We will be providing food boxes supplied by our wonderful chef to be opened at home for young people who are fasting during daylight hours, and hot food will be provided to non-fasting children and young people during the day.”

Your Holiday Hub is a fantastic initiative which celebrates Bristol’s rich food culture through activities and

A full list of activities can be found on the Your Holiday Hub website and can be filtered according to age, activity, and location.

Mayor Marvin Rees is pictured arm wrestling with a student of Compass Point primary school.

For info:

Free school meal vouchers will be distributed through the schools, please contact your child’s school for more information.

If you have a child with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), please contact the holiday provider directly to discuss your child’s individual needs.

Making time for young carers this Young Carers Action Day

Joss Tagg, looking at the camera, smiling.
This blog is by Joss Tagg, Young Carers Service Manager at Carers Support Centre

This Young Carers Action Day (15 March), we want to celebrate the incredible work done by young carers every day. These young people juggle caring responsibilities with school, hobbies, and friendships, all while trying to look after their own health and mental wellbeing. This year’s theme, ‘make time for young carers’ is a call to action for us all to prioritise the needs of these unsung heroes.

Young carers in Bristol have been sharing their experiences and thoughts on the importance of making time for them and what this could look like. Here at Carers Support Centre, we recently conducted a survey to better understand how our young carers were feeling and how we can make more time for them.

The survey found that more young people are taking on caring responsibilities than ever before, with 60 per cent reporting an increase in their caring duties in the past year. This increase has also led to higher rates of depression, anxiety, stress, and loneliness. Shockingly, 21 per cent of young carers reported self-harming, highlighting the urgent need for more support. Other health issues that young carers had reported include difficulties with sleep and problems with their relationship with food, with one third of young carers feeling they lead an unhealthy lifestyle. Caring duties also significantly impact young carer’s schooling, with ten per cent missing school and almost half reporting a need for more learning support.

Improved access to mental health resources, better help in schools, financial support, and breaks from caring duties were identified as key areas where more support could make a difference.

At Carers Support Centre, through our Young Carers Service, we are dedicated to making time for young carers. The service has registered 342 young carers. Last year alone, we conducted 93 young carers assessments and provided one-to-one support to 87 young carers. This support takes a blended approach using online, phone, and face-to-face methods to ensure that young carers receive the care they need in a way that works for them. With 382 breaks provided – including fun activities such as music, screen printing, cookery, kayaking, trampolining, and trips to Legoland, Go Ape and the pantomime – the Young Carers Service is committed to giving young carers the chance to relax and have fun.

The impact of our work is clear; 47 per cent of respondents said that our service was instrumental in reducing their sense of loneliness and isolation, a 19 per cent increase from the previous year. However, we understand that more still needs to be done to improve the lives of our carers. We must all make the time to listen to young carers and provide the support they need to balance their caring duties with their own needs.

The Young Carers Action Day, let’s remember the incredible work done by young carers and commit to making time for them.

See all the Young Carers Action Day videos on our YouTube channel.

Carers Support Centre:

Website : Help for young carers | Carers Support Centre

Tel: 0117 958 9980


Twitter: @youngcarers

Facebook: @youngcarersbsg

One Front Door: supporting Bristolians into work or training

Councillor Asher Craig, smiling, with trees in the background.
This guest blog is from Councillor Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor for Children Services, Education, and Equalities and Labour Councillor for St George West ward.

This week at Cabinet we invested another almost £700,000 in One Front Door, our employment support service. Led by the Employment, Skills and Learning team, we will continue to fill gaps in employment support, enabling us to help many more people and businesses in the city.

From the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, we have been strengthening our citywide partnerships and employer networks to provide this vital service. Helping local people start work for the first time, get back into employment or to begin apprenticeships and other work-based qualifications.

The One Front Door service has given people much needed access to training opportunities, personalised advice, practical help from careers coaches as well as offering guidance to employers to help them network and fill their vacancies.

Since starting, One Front Door has helped over 700 local people with help tailored to their needs. This includes 218 people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, 94 young people aged 18-24, 144 people over 50, 155 people with mental health issues, 11 care leavers, and 40 homeless people. In addition to this, over a hundred laptops have been given out through our digital inclusion scheme to help people train and apply for jobs. With over 28 job fairs taking place and the team attending over 53 other events, support has spread all over Bristol, providing thousands of local people with links to potential employers, resulting in over 1,500 job interviews and 700 jobs.

The Lord Mayor is pictured, in the middle of staff from One Front Door. They are at a campaign event at the galleries.

An example of someone who has worked with the service is Iryna. She arrived here from Ukraine and is one of 82 Ukrainian refugees who have registered with One Front Door. She found out about the support offered at a Ukrainian hub in the city and worked with one of our career progression coaches to find employment. Together they reviewed her CV and went through various courses, apprenticeships and events of interest. Iryna went to local job fairs to talk directly to employers, and also helped other attendees on the day by translating for them. Following the support and guidance she received from the team, Iryna has now started working at Co-Op and is receiving further support from our Future Bright programme (providing in-work support) to develop her career further. Iryna was also referred to Wheels for Work which has helped her with travel costs getting to work.

One Front Door also works in tandem with Ways2Work, where employers and training providers keep us up to date with all the opportunities that are currently available so we can share them with the hundreds of people already linked into our network. If you would like to join them, you can sign up to receive the emails on our website.

The success of the service so far has made a real difference and we are happy that unemployment levels have fallen in the city overall, but we still need to do more. This additional grant funding, secured from the combined authority, will help us focus efforts on our more disadvantaged communities and on people directly and disproportionately impacted by the current cost of living crisis.

Bristol's Lord Mayor is pictured cutting ribbon for the launch of One Front Door.

One great addition and new for 2023 is Bristol Launchpad, based on the ground floor of the Galleries. This new facility provides a one-stop-shop for anyone in Bristol looking for jobs, training or to become self-employed. Through a partnership of Bristol City Council, City of Bristol College, the Department of Work and Pensions, and the National Careers Service, you can access meeting rooms, hot desks and training facilities to help make your dreams of getting the perfect job, or running your own business, a reality. If you could benefit from a chat with the team, give them a call on 0117 9223440 or fill out an online form at the bottom of the One Front Door website to contact one of our career coaches

Supporting children in care and care leavers in Bristol

Councillor Asher Craig, smiling, with bushes in the background.
This guest blog is from Councillor Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor for Children Services, Education, and Equalities and Labour Councillor for St George West ward

When it comes to looking after the vulnerable children in our city, we have a great responsibility. Be it through early intervention to make sure children and families get the right response and the right help at the right time; by exploring options for arranging children to live with wider family and friends’ wherever possible; or the situations when their care becomes our responsibility.

Our ambition and a top priority is making sure that our children in care can stay close to their families, friends, and schools. Approved at yesterday’s Cabinet, our latest sufficiency strategy for children in care and care leavers sets out exactly how we will keep children local and increase placement stability.

Care leaver Martyna reflects on staying at her secondary school, “It was quite important for me to stay in that one place because I already had teachers I could trust, I had friends that knew my background and it just meant that I didn’t have to keep going through the same struggle again, of having to almost experience my trauma again by talking to new support networks about it.” Being able to keep children in Bristol not only reduces trauma but also means children can continue to rely on key support networks.

Our aims

  1. Keeping children local:

Deciding a child needs to come into our care is a last resort and we want to do all we can to keep children at home with their families, as long it is safe to do so.

We will achieve this through increased targeted early support for families on the edge of care. Bristol is one of 75 local authorities that will receive funding of £4.8m from the UK Government to support Family Hubs and the Start for Life programme. This funding will help us to support families to have the best start in life and prevent family breakdown.

  1. Same day and urgent need:

Short-term provision for children who have an urgent need for safety is necessary. We are also planning to grow our staff team. Having this in place will help us assess children who are in crisis, to stabilise them and prepare them for a more permanent living arrangement that fully meets their needs.

  1. Placement stability:

We want children in care to be able to develop secure attachments, however placement instability reduces this opportunity and can also intensify any existing behavioural and emotional difficulties. We will therefore expand our therapeutic support models for carers and for our children and young people to help reduce the need to end placements when the child is having difficulties.

A picture of three children, sitting alongside each other in a field.

Our current work

Our incredible fostering team are already working hard to increase local sufficiency so that children can stay local and maintain links to their networks and education and access health care. Two notable projects that they are currently working on is increasing foster carers in Bristol through an urgent appeal and ensuring children feel at home as much as possible through the creation new, smaller children’s homes.

Urgent appeal

The demand for foster carers is continuing to rise as we see more children come into care. In January 2023, there were more than 750 children and young people in care in Bristol but only 353 households fostering with Bristol City Council. We need more people to come forward to foster so that we can keep children in the local area.

Where we cannot find local foster homes for these children, there is a possibility we need to place them much further away in other parts of the country. To address this, we launched an urgent appeal at the beginning of the year calling on the people of Bristol to come forward.

We have seen a positive response so far, but we still need more people to come forward. Are you over 21 with a spare room? Become a foster carer and provide a child with a home in their city. Find out more at

Children’s homes

In Bristol, we are also working hard to increase the number of children’s homes we have locally so that children do not have to move away from the city and can stay close to their families, friends, and schools.

We also want these homes to feel like a place they can call home. This is why last year we set out a vision for our children’s home across Bristol, for opening smaller homes across the city. This allows us to provide children with an environment that feels more like a home and gives them a better quality of care with more one on one support from our dedicated team.

We have already opened four new, smaller homes across Bristol, with one opening in the spring and at least another three smaller homes due to open in the next couple of years, and we are already seeing results. In November 2022, we had an incredibly positive Ofsted inspection, with one of our children’s homes being judged by Ofsted as good with outstanding leadership and management. These smaller homes have been able to support younger children to stabilise, experience good care and then transition to foster care whilst also supporting young people with very complex needs.

Our corporate parent commitment

Bristol is committed to being an effective, caring, and ambitious corporate parent and we will show this through our love, our language, and our actions. We want them to be and feel heard, as demonstrated in our Belonging Strategy, where we asked Bristol’s children and young people if they see themselves, their histories, cultures and identities reflected in their city. 

We will do everything we can to make sure that our care-experienced children are set up for life, and this sufficiency strategy is a positive step forward to achieve this.

A image of two you people, pulling faces, staring at the camera.

Tapping into the big pool of creative talent in the South West

Omari Cato, from Creative Power Town is pictured on the left. Tamara Barton-Campbell, from of Renaissance Studios is pictured on the right. Cleome Martelly is pictured in the middle, with College Green in the background.
Today’s guest blog is from Omari Cato from Creative Power
and Tamara Barton-Campbell from Renaissance Studios.

As we continue to work to bridge the gap between London and Bristol, Tamara Barton-Campbell, owner of Renaissance Studios, Omari Cato, owner of Creative Power Town, and Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, have teamed up by using their resources to provide opportunities to underrepresented talent and voices outside of London.

Music, dance, fashion, drama, media production, and photography all have a place in Creative Power Town, which serves as a platform and hub for the creative arts. We believe that the neighbourhood and larger community should have a fair opportunity of succeeding in the creative sector. Our goals include upskilling people, inspiring them, and providing them with opportunity to learn more about their chosen fields and to hone their skills.

What better way is there to encourage young people to find their passions and turn them into careers? Young creatives outside of London ought to have opportunities, and Cleome is one of the up and coming creatives Renaissance has worked with. She was a candidate for a Channel 4 project. Young creatives deserve opportunities, and Renaissance Studios has provided them with The Dating Pool and E4 Digital Talent Search, two recent Channel 4 commissions. 

Watch this space for more workshops, talent developments and outreach projects especially in the Bristol Black Creative Network.

Words by Christabel Oppong

Don’t look away: Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week

Claire Bloor, CEO of Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support, is pictured, smiling.
Today’s guest blog is from Claire Bloor, CEO of
Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support

Current research estimates that one in six girls and one in 20 boys experience child sexual abuse (CSA) before the age of 16. There are an estimated 3.1 million adult victim-survivors of CSA living in England and Wales. This means that we all know someone who has been or is currently being abused. 

As a society, we are failing to recognise, respond to, and prevent child sexual abuse.

I’m proud to lead an organisation that’s using this year’s Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week, to call for change for both adult victim-survivors of CSA and for children affected by it now.

The impacts of CSA can be devastating and life-long, affecting victim-survivors, their families, friends, and our communities. These impacts can include mental and physical unwellness, drug and alcohol dependency, a loss of educational and employment opportunities, and a link with suicide.

Many children will never tell anyone that they are being abused when the abuse is happening. We know that, right now, there are children in their homes who are being hurt by the very people who are meant to protect them. Where is the outrage? Where is the action? Let’s stop looking away.

Most campaigning focuses on giving children the tools to ‘stay safe’, but it is time to stop expecting children to protect themselves from abuse and for the safe adults in their lives to step up and prevent it from happening.

Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week 2023's logo is on the left of the image. On the right blue text reads 6th - 12th February 2023 #ITSNOTOK

What do we want to happen?

  • Expert training for anyone who works with children and young people on:
  • recognising the signs of abuse
  • responding to disclosures of abuse
  • understanding the impact of trauma on children and young people.
  • Sustainably funded and adequate specialist support for all children and young people affected by sexual abuse, when they need it
  • Greater public awareness of child sexual abuse
  • A change in the conversation that puts the responsibility for prevention squarely on the shoulders of safe adults.

We will be holding live events on our social media channels throughout the week. You can join in by following us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

Every child deserves the right to thrive and grow up in safety. Let’s stop looking away and start building a world where every child can live a life free from violence and abuse.


SARSAS is a support service for people affected by sexual violence. We are a passionate team of specialists who stand alongside those impacted by rape and sexual abuse; listening, believing, and supporting them to reclaim their lives. We campaign and raise awareness to stop it happening to others.

SARSAS offer a freephone helpline and live chat service, e-support, counselling, one-to-one support, and group work. All our services are free and confidential.

We have recently launched a new Sexual Violence Therapies Service in partnership with The Green House, Womankind, Kinergy, Southmead Project, and The Bridge. This service is for people all ages and all genders who have experienced rape, sexual assault or abuse. It has been funded by NHSE and is co-commissioned by NHSE, Avon and Somerset PCC, BNSS-ICB and Bristol Council.

For more information on SARSAS go to our website or watch:

Helpline: 0808 801 0456 or 0808 801 0464 (Monday & Friday 11am – 2pm; Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 6pm – 8pm)


Online chat via our website (Tuesday & Thursday 12pm – 2pm, 6pm – 8pm; Wednesday 6pm – 8pm)