The award has been devised to recognise the contributions of UoB and UWE students to Bristol’s year as European Green Capital. Rebecca Drissi is one of our Green Capital Change Makers She says…
When one imagines a 21 year old activist trying to change the world, knitting needles aren’t usually the first thing that spring to mind. Founding Bristol Knititiative was a spontaneous decision, spurred on by nothing more than empathy and a general intolerance of injustice. Bristol Knititiative is a social sustainability project, its mission to empower students to support their local homeless community outside of economic constraints, bringing the two communities closer together in the process. Funded by the UBU Get Green Fund, Bristol Knititiative provides the materials to teach students to knit in a relaxed social space. These knitted goods are then donated to the St Julian’s Trust Nightshelter. Through Bristol Knititiative, students can learn new craft skills and meet like-minded others while simultaneously benefiting their homeless community. The project also encourages empathy, promotes social responsibility, inspires social activism and stimulates a flourishing community.
My experience co-founding a social-sustainability initiative has taught me a breadth of new skills – not least actually learning to knit! Aside from gleaning invaluable experience in project management, volunteer co-ordination, budgeting, networking and communications, I have learned so much more about Bristol’s sustainability ethos. While sourcing wool I stumbled upon countless ethical, sustainable local businesses that play a huge role in preserving the eco-friendly vibe that merits Bristol its title as European Green Capital.
Since starting Bristol Knititiative, I have grown in more ways and learned more than I ever imagined. By sitting and chatting with people who are homeless, I have gained real insight into the extent homelessness affects individuals and communities. I have also gained esteemed and valued friends. Furthermore, every knit-in beckons those passionate about creating a better community and I feel privileged to be a part of a movement of socially minded people using their skills to express what’s important to them. These have been, perhaps, the most important learning experiences of all, and I would encourage as many students as possible to experience these for themselves by engaging with local social sustainability projects. After all, student volunteering is no new fad – we’ve been doing it for over 50 years. I can think of no better way to be a part of something huge than to be a socially impactful student volunteer in a city such as Bristol.
While I feel privileged and lucky to have earned the Gold Award I know that, as students, each and every one of us has the potential to continue shaping a more sustainable future for Bristol, as we always have done, each in our own different ways. After all, recognition of all our efforts surrounds us; threaded within this flourishing and conscientious city, a city worthy of winning European Green Capital 2015.
If you have done 7 hours of work on social, economic or environmental sustainability in 2015 then you can claim a Green Capital Change Maker award recognising your efforts. The awards are open to all students- full time, part time, undergraduate and postgraduate.
This could be a volunteer project, research dissertation, paid employment, anything- as long as it is relevant to sustainability, it qualifies. You need to have shared your action too, a social media post being a great way of doing so.
It is an exciting year for Bristol – if you have contributed, get it recognised!