Engaging in the Bristol community: Our Winter Tea Party

Towards the end of term, as many of us were beginning to wind down for the winter break, the Careers Service, in collaboration with the SU Volunteering Team, were busy organising a Winter Tea Party for some of Bristol’s elderly residents.

This initiative, one of the Service’s community engagement activities, saw them take over the Richmond Building’s Carpenter Room and share some festive cheer in the form of food, chat, and entertainment.

A picture of elderly residents and volunteers enjoying the table top activities

The Winter Tea Party welcomed fifty members of the community from Parkway Methodist Church, Brunelcare, and St. Monica’s Trust; together with a number of student volunteers and society representatives who supported the guests and helped ensure they had an enjoyable afternoon.

Alongside festive food, decorations and music, the afternoon featured performances and activities from student groups, which was a great opportunity for them to showcase their talents, as well as develop their skills and do some good in the community.

The highlight performance came from the Bristol Jets cheerleading team, where Mathilde (Bristol Jets Charity Officer) and Bex handed out poms and got the whole room moving with a simple cheer routine! This went down a storm with everyone at the tea party, and definitely introduced a lot of new people to the exciting world of cheerleading.

A picture of Mathilde and Bex smiling in their cheer uniforms

“It’s really important for me, as charities officer, that we have more of a community outreach and local presence as a club. Some of the guests here might not have family around anymore, and I just don’t want anyone to be lonely at Christmas! It’s a really rewarding experience – it’s been a lot of fun!”


As well as the entertainment, there were several table-top activities to get involved with; the Baking Society provided biscuit decorating, the Pottery Society gave guests a chance to get hands-on with some clay, and Bristol PHAB provided instruction on how to build a snowman out of nothing more than a sock, some rice, and a handful of elastic bands!

e of student volunteer, William

“I’ve been chatting to people, and meeting everyone who’s come in from the community, and talking to them about what I do at the university … as well as hearing from them about their lives. It’s been incredibly rewarding! It’s been so lovely to hear other people’s experiences of Bristol and their stories of living around here. They’ve been really, really fascinating to talk to”.

William, Student volunteer

This event was a pilot, building on the success of our Monday afternoon showcases with Parkway Methodist Church in St Werburghs that we ran last year. Showcases and activities such as this are not only a great way for you to give back to the local community, but they also develop planning and presentation skills, and it looks great on your CV! You can read more about it in our blog: Get involved in local community outreach!

Looking forward, we hope to run further events and expand our horizons to connect with other sectors of the community including children, refugees, and people with learning difficulties.

If you’d like to get involved with volunteering there are lots of ways to find projects and activities:

You can find volunteering opportunities, as well as lots of other extracurricular activities such as work experience, internships and part-time work on mycareer.

The Career’s Service’s ‘City Challenges’ programme provides you with exclusive opportunities to engage with Bristol’s charity sector, gain informal work experience, and develop your skills through working on real life challenges posed by local community organisations.

Looking ahead to the new year, the City Challenges team will be working with Bristol Hub, St Peter’s Hospice and Milestones Trust, and more; and if you’d like to get involved you can sign up for updates and register your interest on mycareer.

If you’re a member of a student group who would be interested in getting involved in our various community engagement activities, please complete this form on mycareer.

An image of a student looking through binocular with the words " Achieve the Bristol PLUS Award

All of these opportunities are also great ways to gain the experience you need to complete the Bristol PLUS Award, as well as give back to your community.

If you want to complete the PLUS Award this academic year, you have until Sunday 12 February to register. Visit the PLUS webpage for more information.