Getting to know Freestyle Bristol with Delroy HibbertPosted on: 09 Aug 2022
To reignite our 'Getting to Know' series, last week we caught up Delroy Hibbert, Director of Community Interest Company Freestyle Bristol.
In your own words, could you tell us who Freestyle Bristol are, and what you do?
Freestyle Bristol is a CIC that works with young people, predominantly in two areas; one is with regards to the website itself, which is a website created by and aimed at young people in Bristol, 16-30. The website provides content and shines a light on what young people are doing but it’s also to give young people the chance to be supported in learning new skills around creative and digital media. People can come to us whether they're a beginner, or whether they’ve already got some skills, and they can gain that practical work experience.
The other side that we do is more for 10-18s, where we deliver youth activities. So we’ve got a football session for young men run on a weekly basis & we just started a session aimed at girls and young women. We also run, at Southmead Youth Club, music production and vocal recording. So it’s quite a diverse offering, but it’s really related to giving young people more opportunities.
I noted you, with your main strand, do 16-30 – which I thought was interesting. A lot of similar programmes cut things off at 18-25. What was your thinking behind that?
We wanted to be more flexible, because I do know that – especially with regards to just having come out of two years of pandemic – there are people who, when they were 25, missed out on a lot of opportunities. I think that people can come out university in their early 20s, spend a few years doing things then think again about “what do I want to do?”
I just kind of feel that’s the generation we aim our content at, so we want to give those people an opportunity as well. I don’t see why at 25/26 you should stop needing support.
You’ve recently been focusing on helping young artists who are struggling due to the confines of the pandemic – as we come out of a lot of the restrictions and pressures associated with the pandemic, what kind of role do you think Freestyle will take going forward?
During lockdown I saw people suffering – right across age groups, but young people I was working with in particular were really thrown. Schools, universities & colleges were locked, people couldn’t get jobs, people couldn’t get work experience.
The other problem we had as professionals working with children and young people, is our model is face-to-face and we couldn’t actually engage with them or support them. So this is why I came up with the idea of having a digital model. The other things I saw happening around 2020 when I had this idea was a lot more activism around BLM, XR, etc.
I wanted to also give young people a voice, because quite often young people are seen in a negative light – but we don’t shine a light on positive stories and support those people that have got something to say.
How can people get involved – or get in touch?
They can get in touch via our website, so we’ve got a contact form that people can access, they contact us via that, or they can contact me directly via firstname.lastname@example.org, all our details are on there if people wish to get involved.
Let’s talk about you a bit more – tell us about yourself.
My name’s Delroy Hibbert, I’m the managing director for Freestyle Bristol, I have been working professionally with children and young people for 12 years.
I started off as a volunteer, worked with Full Circle in St Paul’s for four years and then started working with Felix Road Adventure Playground and Eastside community trust, which I continue to do today.
You’ve mentioned music a lot – listening to anything good at the moment?
I’ve always been interested in music, I’ve DJ’d a bit around Bristol and really see music as a key way of engaging young people. I saw it work really well in Saint Paul’s, with the other group we partnered with, ACE. It’s a fantastic way of engaging people, especially young men who weren’t engaged by other means. Earlier this year I was contacted by Southmead Development Trust. They’d recently had a visit by DIY SOS, and one thing they put in was a media suite with some recording equipment, so I’ve been taking along some of the young people I’ve been working with through freestyle.
I listen to things right across the board, I’ve always been really interested in new music. I guess my main type of music is the jazzy, funky end of Hip-Hop and RnB. But I listen to a lot of different things, the last gig I went to see was Lady Nade at the Thekla, and she’s a more folky, local artist. I’ve got quite a wide taste in music.
I know you’ve got a degree in history from Bristol uni. What interests you about history? Do you think it feeds into your work with Freestyle?
It’s always been an interest of mine. I guess it’s more the social, cultural and political history of the last couple of hundred years has always really interested me. In my mid-30s I found myself in a bit of a rut and decided to return to education. This was just about challenging myself to do something I always thought I was capable of but hadn’t been ready for when I was 18. It’s something I’ve continued with, I recently did a project working with young people at Bristol museum.
I’m hoping to take that further, and look at things I can do around social history and cultural history of Bristol - to really talk about the more hidden histories of Bristol. Bristol’s history is very much something in the public eye, and very often we focus on the negative things, like the slave trade, and those kind of things are important, but it’s also about focusing on some of the other things that have happened as well, culturally and in the city.
You’ve defended some of our own history in the making as well. You were in the news in 2020 defending symbols placed at the bottom of the Colston plinth from ‘All Lives Matter’ protestors. Are you willing to tell me a bit about that?
That’s a bit of a complicated story. The All Lives Matter element was really sort of blown up, but the organisers were more about defending the war memorial there, not necessarily the Colston plinth. It wasn’t targeted by the BLM protestors, but there were a couple of idiots there, who decided to attempt to deface it. That annoyed a lot of people, including the organisers of the demonstration the next week.
Now there were some artifacts left there from the week before, which again, an isolated person – an idiot – from the other side, decided to target, and I challenged him on that. Which caused some people to think that I was there to challenge what they were doing. We spoke, and pretty much sorted that out - I got them to understand what was going on, really.
It’s really difficult sometimes, but there is a need to communicate with other people, there is a need to talk and challenge and engage in dialogue with people that have different views from yourself because if you don’t engage in dialogue or even attempt to engage in dialogue you can help perpetuate misunderstandings or miscommunications.
If you were Mayor of Bristol for a day, what would you do?
Mayor of Bristol for a day, oh dear, that’s a difficult one...I would definitely like to introduce a more democratic system. One of the reasons why people are angrier is they feel disconnected with decisions made around their lives. But also to explain democracy – I think one of the reasons people get angry is they don’t understand how the system works. So I think democracy could be improved by giving people a greater understanding and allowing people to have more control in their lives.
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Patrick is a filmmaker with so much Bristol in his blood the white blood cells are graffiti'd. Educated at the Northern Film School in Leeds, he’s returned home to be a Videographer and Reviewer for 365Bristol and BARBI. When he’s not messing about with cameras, he enjoys playing guitar, spending far too much time on tabletop RPGs, and being an awful snob about cider. Have a look at his work here, or get in touch at email@example.com.