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Shadowing Fund: Bardsley Youth Project visits Hot Chocolate Trust

Shadowing Fund: Bardsley Youth Project visits Hot Chocolate Trust

Shadowing Fund: Bardsley Youth Project visits Hot Chocolate Trust

Monday, March 2, 2020

Towards the end of last year, myself and colleagues from Bardsley Youth Project had the opportunity to visit Hot Chocolate Trust (HCT) in Dundee. We spent two days in Dundee swapping ideas and best practice. They wanted to know about homelessness, we wanted to know about their creative work.

From encounters via Frontier Youth Trust we recognised that HCT had a similar history to us. We started out over 15 years ago bringing hot drinks to young people hanging about the city centre. They started out giving hot chocolate to keep young people warm, hence their name. Over time, both our organisations have grown and with it our focuses; we began to focus on homelessness, HCT on arts and creative work.

Key Activities

Over the course of our visit, we had several key activities and sessions including:

  • Meeting with the director to find out key processes, software use and history.
  • Attendance at an open access drop-in session for young people.
  • Q&A session to exchange ideas across our two teams – homelessness, finances, managerial styles and processes, recruitment and retention of young people into programs.

Additionally, as Coventry is the City of Culture next year, we were keen to meet HCT’s Arts Worker as they have a large Arts program. We wanted to explore ideas on how we could kick start this at Bardsley, as it is an area we have not explored before. Each summer at HCT they do an Arts Week, in which young people create and display art. In 2019 the theme was Resist, 10-15 young people created posters to display on a Wall of Resistance and a booklet was published.

Shared Experiences

Speaking with staff, we found that the artwork grew from the simple availability of colouring at drop-ins. This led to young people asking to do painting and photography. The evolvement of the arts projects was clearly a response to listening to what young people wanted. Eventually HCT were able to employ an Arts Worker and it became an established part of their work. This is similar to the organic way our drop-ins started from a church cell group to more of a social interactive session. We added more and more sessions as young people requested them.

The learning and sharing were not just one way. As well as getting advice on arts and creativity, we also advised HCT on how to support issues of homelessness. This is something that they are seeing more of with young people who are using their service. Although the legislation is different between Scotland and England, there are areas overlapping in how to best support young people facing homelessness.

Key Learning

Overall, our visit was positive and through this we highlighted some key learning:

  • We were challenged to think of ways we could encourage our young people to participate in the City of Culture year. We realised it had to come from them. We need to ask them, what do they feel about it? What ideas do they have? How can we prompt ideas?
  • We realised how far we had developed ourselves. All of HCT development had happened naturally and looking back we were reminded that this was the case for Bardsley. Our change from traditional youth work to a homelessness service was an easy, positive transition for us all, where others had struggled.
  • We were impressed with how they record youth sessions and engagements. This is done through providing letters to each young people after every session recognising the young person’s attendance and engagement. It felt warmer and more personal than other ways of recording information and is something we would like to look at using moving forward.

We will be keeping in contact with HCT and will continue to share knowledge, experiences and best practice.


Have you ever wanted to find out more about how another service works or how a similar service in another area operates – what they do the same or differently to how you work? If so, we think one of the best ways to learn about them is to visit them.

Through the Frontline Network Shadowing Fund, you can apply for up to £500 to cover the cost of transport (and accommodation if it’s miles away!) to visit another organisation. Find out more about the fund here

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