Over the next seven months the new cohort of Change Creators – The XLR Collective will be making waves in the city, tackling social issues using musical and creative solutions. You will meet individually through their online profiles over the course of the programme. The Inspire Week, which ran from 20th – 22nd February 2017, gave the group the chance to travel around the city and meet some amazing local and national organisations, getting them ready for the journey ahead and fuelling their fire for social change.
We talked about Bristol-wide policies with Elected Mayor Marvin Rees and Councillor Asher Craig, discussed mental health with charities including Off The Record, and Integrate UK opened the group’s eyes to FGM (Female Genital Mutilation). The group also explored a wide range of other topics and organisations.
Monday was all about the months ahead, focusing on what leadership is, different leadership styles and each member of The Collective’s personal journey, informed by talks from the XLR Collective Project Manager James Kennaby and the KWMC Youth Programme Manager Mena Fombo. After a full-on day the group had a debrief to get ready for the next day. After getting to know each other on day one, the feedback was exactly what we had hoped for:
“[I’m] inspired and grateful to be around people who are doing things that I aspire to do.”
Tuesday, we were out and about in Bristol, kicking things off with an inspirational talk from Julz at Ujima Radio. Originally from Knowle West, Julz gave a unique perspective on the area and shared his understanding of some of the challenges faced by people in the local area. He talked about his background, and explained ways that the group can make a difference to their local area by just getting involved and “not being scared to shake things up”.
That was followed by a tour / meet and greet with the DJs, presenters and volunteers at the radio station. It was great for the group to meet some inspiring people who are championing talent in their local community and striving to make a positive difference.
From there the Collective headed to Desk Lodge for a Social Issues ‘speed dating’ session. The group met:
– Off The Record
– Barnardo’s Care Leavers Team
– Integrate UK
– Daniel Edmund from Milk for Tea
Each person focused on specific social issues facing people in Bristol and explained what they are doing within the city to combat them. Daniel from Milk For Tea concluded the day and shared the story of how Milk For Tea create open conversation around male suicide and provide support, alongside creating networks through local events in London, Bristol and more.
“There’s no one way to be a man, anytime people don’t understand you they will try to attack you.”
Some feedback from the Collective from Day 2:
“I’ve always been a bit cynical about charities but it’s nice to see people who are genuine and have drive. It’s made me hopeful and it’s refreshing.”
“I feel re-connected with a lot of things happening in Bristol – and more informed.”
On Wednesday we began our day at Bristol City Hall with some seriously inspiring talks from Elected Mayor Marvin Rees, Councillor Asher Craig and Phil Castang from Bristol Plays Music. Asher started the day, explaining how the council works and her journey to becoming the councillor for Saint George. Marvin Rees, with his background and passion for music, was excited to talk to the group about their ideas and offered some examples of how musicians have the power to change so much within their local communities.
Phil Castang, or as the group ended up calling him “The Castang!”, began by explaining the role of Colston Hall and Bristol Plays Music within the local music scene and their education work. He gave the group some poignant and honest advice about striving to create what you want, no matter the challenges that you face.
Asher then guided the Collective around the building, showing them the Elected Mayor’s office, board rooms, the Cash Hall and many other intriguing spaces. The group marvelled at the fusion of old and new elements in the building.
The afternoon was spent back at Knowle West Media Centre, reflecting on the three days, discussing the issues the group feel passionately about and making some songs exploring social issues in a creative way. This reminded the group how their creative skills can be utlilised in a wide variety of ways. The songs were hard-hitting, honest and diverse.
“I feel empowered and capable following these few days. I feel able to do the right thing. We’ve met people who are doing the right thing and that’s great.”
The XLR Collective are now formed, informed and ready to develop their ideas. This is set to be an amazing seven months. Watch this space!
Follow Change Creators: The XLR Collective on Twitter at @change_creators