Big Lottery Fund has awarded £499,781 to fund a specialist young people’s advice service across Bristol through a partnership between Avon and Bristol Law Centre, Citizens Advice Bristol and 1625 Independent People.

The five year project called “Ask Us”, led by Avon and Bristol Law Centre (ABLC), will be funded through the £30m Big Lottery Fund “Help Through Crisis”.

The project aims to help tackle poverty and homelessness, improve health & well being and help young people to take back control of their lives.

Research and consultation with young people shows a gap in them accessing crisis support and advice. ABLC, Citizens Advice Bristol (CAB) and 1625 Independent People (1625ip) are specialist advice & youth services in the city and will deliver the project from their city centre locations and provide outreach to youth bases and partner organisations in the most deprived areas of the city. The project will also train and support young people to become peer supporters and advisers.

Ask Us will employ three staff based at ABLC, CAB and 1625ip, providing hands-on advice and advocacy to 16-25 year olds to:

1. help them overcome crisis, including access to food, accommodation and support
2. gain the knowledge, information and confidence they need to take back control of their lives.

Young people will self-refer or be referred by partner organisations and crucially have one key-worker throughout to ensure continuity and build trust. Together they will identify actions and support them to access relevant services and provide ongoing post crisis support.

Youth Board

The project will develop a voice for young people in hardship in the city through a new cross sector “Youth Board” linked to the existing Youth Mayors, Youth Council & national youth forums.

Improving services for young people in Bristol

A wider aim of the project will be to strengthen how services in Bristol respond to young people’s needs by training local service providers in advice skills and the specific issues and barriers faced by young people. The project aims to work intensively with over 700 young people and will reach at least 2000 people through training delivery and capacity building support.

Clare Carter – Director ABLC said:
“We are delighted to be partnering with CAB and 1625ip to deliver effective support and advice to young people in crisis in Bristol. Working together we aim to bring about positive change for some of the most vulnerable people across the city”

Sue Evans – Director CAB said:
“We have had a long held aspiration to develop our services to meet the needs of young people, and this funding will enable us to develop a sustainable model of advice advocacy and support that will enable young people in Bristol to meet the challenges that they face and move forward in their lives. Citizens Advice Bristol are delighted to be working with 1625iP and ABLC on this project”

Jamie Gill – Partnership Director, 1625 Independent People said:
“The Big Lottery Fund has enabled our three organisations to create an exciting new specialist advice service so that young people in crisis in the city can overcome their immediate difficulties, and then with our support take back control of their lives so they can succeed into the future. Young people will play a central role in developing, delivering and evaluating the project so we can be confident that we are succeeding in making a real and lasting difference to the lives of young people in the city”.