Engaging young people with the housing crisis

On the 9th December 2016 United Communities worked with the Bristol Free School to give pupils a better understanding of the pressures on housing in Bristol. As part of an enterprise day held at the school, United Communities asked pupils to take on various aspects of a housing development and come up with a hypothetical scheme for a real life development site.

The day focused on the potential for housing on the site at the former Dunmail Primary School in Southmead being developed by the housing association and HAB development. The day was introduced by two special guests, both with experience and expertise in topics to be covered. Bristol Mayor – Marvin Rees and Sustainable Housing expert Kevin McCloud (of Channel 4’s Grand Designs) had each recorded a short film for the pupils, to inspire and give them some food for thought. Mayor Rees encouraged them to think big and be imaginative, saying that fresh ideas are what the city needs to solve its housing crisis. Kevin McCloud advised them to think about how the hypothetical development will fit with the existing housing and natural surrounding.

The day was attended by a number of housing and community professionals who advised the pupils on various aspects of the process; Avon Wildlife Trust, Buzz Lockleaze, HAB Housing, Southmead Development Trust and BCC. Groups were asked to consider design, finance, community plan, environment and sustainability and in the afternoon 3 classes pitched their designs in a Dragons Den style presentation to a panel of experts including Cllr. Paul Smith who is the lead for Housing and communities within Bristol.

The aim of the day was to inspire, enthuse and give young people the opportunity to develop a project using a brief that was relevant to them and their community. Offering an insight into this multifaceted industry and an understanding of what is needed to meet the demand for housing.

“Our students care about their community and the issues that affect their lives. This year’s Enterprise Day provided the opportunity to work with and be inspired by those at the forefront of community housing strategies, including Marvin Rees and Kevin McCloud. Seeing the groups respond to real world problems and frame these in terms of community integration was fantastic.”

Paul Jones, Head of Bristol Free School

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