Why does Bristol need an Impact Hub?
The answer to this question could be summarised by the rather droll commentator who said Bristol’s biggest issue was the “damp duvet of despair” that gets dropped over good ideas by ‘the system’. After 15 years, I would love to say it wasn’t true, but more often than not innovation succeeds despite the system not because of it. Which is fine, until it is the system that needs to change.
Bristol is flush with of home-grown entrepreneurs, campaigners and creatives, who have been joined by many who have dropped out of London for a better quality of life. Bristol is also host to plenty of hot-desking, co-working spaces and partnerships designed to foster collaboration. And who needs to pay for a desk when you can get hours of free wifi for the price of a fairtrade coffee in a plethora of independent cafes? But, when asked, people readily identify with the need for a focal point that will help join up more of the dots.
There are now 85 Impact Hubs across the world, each part of a global network facilitating collaborative action amongst its membership of over 15,000 entrepreneurs. The network’s aim is to “create positive impact on a global scale” by inspiring, connecting and enabling people to help build a better world. Fine words, but what does that mean in practice?
Inspire, Connect and Enable
An Impact Hub is a community of people who share a desire to work in service of their city. Through its services and facilities, it provides high quality workspace, runs development programmes and hosts events tailored to local need. In addition, Impact Hub Bristol will offer a systems thinking approach, encouraging the community to frame questions, experiment with actions and to notice the effects, both individually and collectively. In this way, even a small group of people who get to know each other and check-in regularly, sharing skills & knowledge as they do so, can create a great deal more impact than simply renting desks together or through membership of a thematic partnership.
Given the scale of Bristol’s challenges of growing inequality, cuts to public services, unaffordable housing, congested streets, polluted air, homelessness and long term unemployment, there is plenty to do. Impact Hub Bristol can’t solve these problems, but it can offer a focal point for social and environmentally minded change-makers who wish to make a living doing something good and to combine their efforts to demonstrate the real power of a co-created triple bottom line. After all, profit shouldn’t be a dirty word and we all need to eat, but for those that wish to go beyond paying their tax, Impact Hub Bristol is an opportunity to meet up, share ideas, learn from mistakes, get help, offer help and enjoy working as part of something much bigger.