5 incredible Bristol charities that need your help

2 June 2016

From Saturday 11th June, something pretty special will be happening in Bristol, and I can’t wait. Since last summer, we've been working with M&S on their Spark Something Good programme which sees 24 projects transformed by M&S staff and local volunteers in the space of just 7 days. Now, as part of M&S’s involvement in Big Green Week, the #SparkSomethingGood event is finally happening in Neighbourly’s home-town of Bristol. The projects on this list are so incredible. Perhaps, seeing as we’re Neighbourly, they’ll let me volunteer for them all!?

Here’s a run-down of 5 amazing projects that really caught my eye...


1. Create a chalk river for The Festival of Nature

Where: Harbourside, Bristol     When: Saturday 11th June

The Festival of Nature is the UK’s largest free celebration of the natural world! Every year the festival, run by the Bristol Natural History Consortium, brightens the harbourside area with exhibitions, talks, workshops and entertainment. This year is going over two weeks from 11th to 25th June starting with interactive exhibits and activates from natural history giants including the BBC Natural History Unit, National Trust, Bristol Zoo and RSPB. Arts events, performances and workshops will spring up on the river bank along the route and at the end of the two-week voyage it will arrive in Bath, stopping for a day of hands-on activities, arts, events and entertainment. Using chalk, this project will create a ‘river’ through the centre of the festival. It will start at Anchor Square with a woodland area, moving through an urban jungle, village green, freshwater and maritime environments. A big group of volunteers will work on this creative idea, bringing the ‘river’ into the city. If you like the sound of this, you can join in here.


2. The Big Beach Clean up

Where: Weston-super-Mare     When: Saturday 11th June

Now, I know this one isn't strictly based in Bristol but it's just too good to miss out! For beach lovers, The Big Beach Clean is a chance to discover local beaches, learn about coastal wildlife and help get rid of unwanted beach rubbish. The event is a family-friendly one, run by experts from the Marine Conservation Society that can teach you a thing or two about marine litter that you might find surprising. The MSC, for those that don’t know, is the UK charity dedicated to protecting our seas, shores and wildlife. They're constantly working to bring the marine litter levels down, protect habitats and help us buy sustainable seafood. They are also campaigning for changes in the law so we can stop litter ever reaching our precious beaches. If you’re up for an invigorating outdoor adventure and a great day of learning – this is the one for you. There’s loads of spaces so bring your friends, colleagues and kids. Find out more and register here.


3. Decorate Cots for Tots House 

Where: Bristol     When: Monday 13th & Tuesday 14th June

I'm one of the thousands of parents that had a baby at St Michael’s Hospital back in 2012. Despite my horror, the birth was what they call ‘straight-forward’ and I emerged into daylight a few days later with a tiny healthy girl. I never knew about the Cots for Tots house that was opening that year, and like many parents, didn't consider what was happening down the corridor in the Special Care Baby Unit. The Cots for Tots House is an amazing project; it’s part of the local Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Appeal – supporting the South West region’s Special Care Baby Unit where world class staff save the lives of the sickest, most premature babies from Bristol, Bath, the South West, South Wales and sometimes further afield. The appeal funds the running costs of the 12-bed house where families of babies being cared for in the unit can stay for free. Since opening in 2012 it has accommodated over 800 families and after 4 years is in need of a little TLC to refresh the communal areas, kitchen and bedrooms. When a parent has a baby being treated in the unit, the last thing they need to worry about is where they will stay, what they’ll eat and how their laundry will get done. Cots for Tots makes an extremely stressful time that little bit easier. If you can help with the decoration of this wonderful house, sign up here.


4. Decorate a crèche for Easton Community Centre

Where: Easton, Bristol     When: Tuesday 14th June

This project will see a disused room transformed into a crèche to help local mothers make use of the centre’s support services. Easton Community Centre is right at the heart of the community, providing a secure and welcoming space for a culturally diverse local area. They host regular events, provide a gathering space, free internet, a bike loan scheme and community café. Easton is an inner city area that’s been identified as having multiple deprivation and the advice and training that the centre provides is life-changing for many. Unfortunately, some of the community find it difficult to join in with activities because of lack of childcare. Many mothers say they would like to attend English speaking courses but don’t have child-free time. The centre knows that communication barriers can make future employment and mixing with the community difficult, so have decided to turn their crèche dreams into a reality. This project will turn a currently scruffy, unused room into a light, bright and safe space for the visiting children. Volunteers will come together to paint the walls, help replace the carpet and add some decoration. Sign up to help out for a half or full day here.


5. Create a wildlife pond and edible garden with the Avon Wildlife Trust

Where: Stapleton, Bristol   When: Friday 17th June

If you love getting up close with nature, this community food-growing project in Stapleton could be just your thing. Avon Wildlife Trust is the largest local charity working to protect wildlife in the West of England. They care for a 37 beautiful nature reserves from ancient bluebell woods and Iron Age forts, to important wetlands and wildflower meadows and help make sure that Bristol is a nature-rich city. The project they need help with, ‘Feed Bristol’, will undergo a dramatic makeover, installing a wildlife pond to enhance the children’s outdoor classroom, creating an edible forest and adding new planting and pathways. Oh, and making a living willow hedgehog! Sounds like my kind of adventure. Check it out and sign up here.

These are just a few of the incredible projects that need support - there's 24 in total, so have a look at what's happening throughout the week. Hope to see you there!

- Jane

Community Manager