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Archive for July, 2020

KWMC receives support from Community Fund

In July 2020 Knowle West Media Centre received a donation of nearly £1,500 from the Direct Line Group  (DLG) Community Fund, after being nominated by a staff member from their Bristol office.

In April 2020, Direct Line Group (DLG) launched their new strategy to ‘Be a Force for Good‘ and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, through the DLG Community Fund, they are donating £3.5 million to support communities where their largest sites are based, as well as several national charities. 

KWMC was nominated to receive support by Sandra, a Consultant at DLG.  She explained: “When I heard about the Force for Good Campaign in one of our team meetings the first charity that came to mind was Knowle West Media Centre. Throughout these unprecedented times KWMC has adapted to the needs of their participants by providing digital content and enabling people to participate through online platforms.

“For some participants, this is the only contact they have had with people outside of the family unit. KWMC and KWMC: The Factory have used social media to share useful skills, such as how to make face coverings. They have also worked alongside the Knowle West Alliance who have been supporting the vulnerable and isolated.

“I was so pleased that DLG were able to offer support to this fantastic charity that makes a visible difference not just in the local area but also in the wider Bristol community.”

We plan to use the funds donated by DLG to produce friendly and accessible signage that will be displayed at KWMC and other community venues to let people know about the COVID-19 safety measures in place and ensure that they feel safe and welcome when they access public community spaces.  The signs will be produced in the coming weeks, to coincide with some buildings in Knowle West beginning to re-open.

We’d like to say a big thank you to the team at Direct Line Group for their generous donation – and especially to Sandra for nominating us!

If you have a business and would like to find out more about supporting KWMC please visit the Support page. You can also donate online via the link below.



Plans to build eco-friendly homes in Knowle West

The We Can Make housing initiative has moved a step closer to building affordable and sustainable homes in Knowle West: at the end of June 2020 the We Can Make team submitted plans to Bristol City Council to build the first two homes!

We Can Make is a collaboration between KWMC and local residents. We‘ve been working together since 2016 to develop new ways to meet housing need in the community. For the last six months, architects have been working with local families to create the designs for the first two homes.

The We Can Make homes are a bit different from what’s usually offered by commercial house-builders because residents and the community have been closely involved in their design. Residents and the wider community were clear about what they wanted:

Homes that are genuinely affordable: the rent for the We Can Make homes will be set at no more than one third of average household income for Knowle West, and the homes will be owned by a community land trust, so they will be affordable in perpetuity. (Usually “affordable housing” is defined as costing just 20% less than full market rate, which makes it still unaffordable for many people).

Homes that enhance the character of Knowle West that are high quality and help create landmarks the whole community can be proud of. The designs for the first two homes are from award-winning architect practices Studio Bark and White Design, and involve using innovative design and construction methods.

Homes that are good for people and planet: the designs have strong environmental credentials. For example, the home designed by Studio Bark uses 50% less carbon to make than the average UK new home. The designs also make space for nature by including green roofs, a roof garden, bike storage and planting that encourages biodiversity.

Homes that create local jobs: We Can Make is about much more than just delivering housing “units”. It is equally about supporting the wider economic regeneration of Knowle West. Using Modern Methods of Construction (MMC), We Can Make is working to develop community fabrication space KWMC: The Factory as a neighbourhood housing factory. Training for local residents and tradespeople is already underway. For example, 15 local people have been taking part in workshops to learn new digital construction skills.

The first two We Can Make homes are for John and Toni.


John’s Story

John has lived and worked in Knowle West for many years. We Can Make has submitted a planning application to build John’s home – a one-person, one-bedroom house built on a micro-site in the rear garden of an existing council house, where Bill and his son live and will continue to live.   John and Bill didn’t know each other before getting involved in We Can Make. They have got to know each other through community events and the proposed approach helps them both:

Bill explains: “My garden is very big and too much for me to look after. This helps me out because I’ll have a much more manageable garden and someone close by to help out if me or my son need it. I like the design [of the We Can Make house] – I think it’s clever and it will work well for us. I love the roof garden too. It means we both have a bit of our own space.”

John says: “I’m in temporary accommodation at the moment, living in a shepherd’s hut. The We Can Make home is brilliant because it’s a secure home of my own I can afford and in a place where I can be close to my family and work. I’ve got construction skills so I can help build it.”

Architects Studio Bark have worked with both John and Bill to develop a design that meets John’s needs for flexibility, storage, and outdoor space, whilst giving both households their own access and privacy, including a hidden roof garden for John.  The house exceeds National Space Standards for a one-person one-bedroom home: it may be built on a ‘microsite’ but it’s not a micro-home.

Toni’s Story

We Can Make has submitted a planning application to build a home for Toni and her daughter. Toni currently lives with her mum and step-dad in Knowle West, where she was born and grew up. Toni has recently had a baby and it is getting a bit crowded in the family home. The new We Can Make home for Toni and her daughter Amancia will be built in the back garden of her parents’ council home.

Toni explains: “I’ve recently had a baby. I want to stay close to my parents who are helping with childcare, but I also want my own space. They have a big garden where we’d like to build a new home for me and my daughter.”

Toni’s mum Mandi says: “Now Toni has Amancia they really need a bit of space of their own but they could never afford a place normally. This is perfect. I really like the design [of the We Can Make house] – it’s nice and green and blends in. I get to keep a good size garden and am nearby to help out with the baby. Everyone wins.”

Toni’s home is designed by architects White Design as a single storey two-bedroom home, with kitchen, bathroom and open-plan living space. The home has a green roof and solar panels. The home exceeds National Space Standards for a two bedroom two-person home. Again, the home will be on a micro-site but it is far from a micro-home.


Next steps

If planning permission is granted, construction of John and Toni’s homes will begin in the Autumn.

We Can Make is supported by the Nationwide Foundation and Homes England to deliver up to 16 similar homes in Knowle West over the next eighteen months. After this pilot phase, the aim is to scale up delivery to help more people in Knowle West and explore how the approach could be used to help people in housing need in other neigbourhoods in Bristol and beyond.

Help make affordable homes for people in Knowle West happen!

You can view the plans for Toni’s home and John’s home on the Bristol City Council Planning Portal. You can leave a comment about the plans – full details of how to do this can be found here.

Your voice matters – positive comments strengthen the case to persuade Bristol City Council to give planning permission for the homes. Showing your support could help to make the We Can Make homes a reality.

See if We Can Make could support you

Can you see yourself in an affordable, eco-friendly home that’s been made in Knowle West?  We have funding to support more families in Knowle West who are in housing need, such as elders wishing to downsize, families with young adult children who need more space, and those caring for relatives.  If you’d like to chat about whether We Can Make could help with your housing situation, e-mail or drop us a message on Facebook or Twitter (@WeCanMakeHomes). Our team would love to hear from you! 

Get involved in building!

We’re looking to put together a team of carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and builders of all kinds to help build the homes. We’ll use “modern methods of construction” to create homes that are eco-friendly and innovative as well as affordable. You can register your interest via this online form or e-mail if you have any questions.


We Can Make is a collaboration between Knowle West residents and the digital arts charity Knowle West Media Centre.  We Can Make is supported by The Nationwide Foundation and Homes England.

Image: artist illustration of John’s new home, showing how it fits into the back garden of Bill’s home.  

Call for ideas – Knowle West Fest 2020

We are excited to announce that Knowle West Fest 2020 will be happening online this year.  The annual festival usually takes place in the late Summer / early Autumn and celebrates the talent, creativity and community of Knowle West.

Inspired by the many festivals that have successfully moved their activities online this year due to the COVID-19 outbreak, KWFest 2020 is going digital and will take place on Saturday 12 September.

Organising the festival is a collaborative effort, with local organisations and residents working together.  Every year one organisation takes responsibility for coordinating the planning, and in 2020 it’s KWMC’s turn!

Get involved

There are lots of ways to get involved:

1) Create or submit online content

This could be:

-a short video showcasing your organisation or community project
-a video of you or your group performing – either from your home or something you’ve made before (music, circus, theatre etc.)
-a live workshop or ‘how to’ video (e.g: a craft challenge, a yoga class, a cooking demo etc.)
-something else?

2) Be part of the organising team

-help promote the event and spread the word
-be part of planning and event organisation
-help out on the day
-help document the event

KWMC can offer:

-tech support to create your online content (video / audio / live workshop set-up)
-a small budget to cover your time and materials
-marketing support

Get in touch

If you have an idea for Knowle West Fest 2020 that you’d like to share, please contact Martha on

Please tell us:

-What you’d like to do and what you need to make it happen
-Any ideas you have for content to be included in a festival pack (to be posted out to homes)
-Recommendations for local food providers who could do festival take-aways
-Thoughts on any socially distanced outdoor activity that could complement the online programme

Knowle West Fest 2020 is funded by the Filwood Fantastic project and co-ordinated by Knowle West Media Centre.

KWMC receives Emergency Response Funds

This week Arts Council England (ACE) announced it will be supporting Knowle West Media Centre through its Emergency Response Funds – funding for organisations and individuals in need of immediate support due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The last few months have been hugely challenging for the arts and cultural sector – artists, freelancers, and organisations and venues of all sizes. We’re very grateful to ACE for their support of KWMC at this critical time.

We closed our buildings KWMC (Leinster Avenue) and KWMC: The Factory (Filwood Green Business Park) in March 2020, at the beginning of the nation-wide lockdown. Since then, we have had to delay activities and we’ve been unable to generate income through rental of our spaces, digital manufacturing kit and creative facilities – placing the future of the organisation under threat. The Emergency Response Funds support from ACE will cover the income lost during the Spring and Summer months (March to September 2020).

No longer threatened with closure, we look forward to working with ACE, our partners and communities in Knowle West and beyond as we move into a recovery phase – planning and delivering inclusive creative programmes that complement ACE’s Let’s Create vision and support communities, artists and people of all ages to create positive change, particularly those in precarious circumstances as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

We’d like to thank our fantastic team for the sacrifices they’ve made during this difficult period and for their dedication to KWMC and the artists, communities, makers and young people we work with.  During this period we have had to furlough some of our staff, and others have taken pay cuts. Since March 2020, our team have been working hard to reimagine activities that were planned to take place in-person. This includes digital design workshops, artist meet-ups, creative sessions for young people, talks, and a virtual Work Experience programme for Year 10 students – all of which have happened online.

Contact Us

Knowle West Media Centre
Leinster Avenue
Knowle West
+44 (0) 117 903 0444

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