Investing in ‘good people who get good stuff done’

A charity is planning to refurbish and take control over an enterprise centre in St Pauls after a community asset transfer.

Bristol City Council will transfer the running of the Coach House, on Upper York Street, to the Black South West Network who are planning a huge expansion.

BSWN has leased the building from the council since May 2021 and uses it to provide workspace and business support to black, Asian and ethnic minority communities. The charity was praised by council bosses as a “leading light” throughout the country.

The cabinet signed off plans for the community asset transfer on November 7. Speaking at the meeting, Kalpna Woolf, former head of production at the BBC and the founder of two local initiatives aiming to “empower communities and deliver inclusion”, said that the Coach House plans would benefit many people across Bristol.
She said: “As a BAME leader, having a collaborative, supportive space where we can meet, develop our teams and the skills in our communities is critical — where the unique challenges we face are understood and particularly a space where our mission and vision align. There is nothing in the city which provides this and which feels inviting and inclusive.

“The Coach House has already begun to achieve so much. It is an exciting hub where innovation and ideas thrive. The expansion of the Coach House can be this space for more people and will for certain transform more lives, building much needed economic strength through exposure to successful role models, training, mentorship, enterprise and support.”

Labour Councillor Asher Craig, cabinet member for education, said: “As a black leader here in this city, I stand really proud today witnessing something that I’ve dreamt about for nearly 40 years. BSWN is a black-led organisation that epitomises black excellence and is considered a leading light not only here in this city but across the UK and beyond.”

Bristol mayor Marvin Rees added: “We’ve talked about being a development organisation, that means that we aren’t just a collection of services. Part of our job is to find good people who want to get good stuff done, and invest in them and allow them to lead. It disperses that sovereignty and leadership across the city, outside of this organisation.”

By Alex Seabrook, Local Democracy Reporting Service