Bristol’s Community-Apprentices enter the ‘Dragons’ Den’

On Wednesday the 7th of December twenty teams of teenagers taking part in Bristol’s popular inter-school competition, Community Apprentice, entered the ‘Dragons’ Den’

Thanks to the generous sponsorship of Great Western Railway, this exciting event saw young people, aged 14-17, pitch their community project ideas to a panel of senior business leaders. The ideas focused on a diverse range of important social issues such as homelessness, mental health stigma and community regeneration.

Our kinder version of Lord Sugar, Mayor Marvin Rees opened the Pitching Challenge event with an inspiring message thanking the young Community-Apprentices for tackling issues that are critical for the city's future and pledging his full support for their participation in the programme.


Business Mentor support

Over 50 business mentors volunteered almost 250 hours to support the teams in preparation for the Pitching Challenge event, providing young people with an invaluable opportunity to develop key employability skills such as communication, teamwork and confidence in public speaking. One of the students at the event told us about their experience;

today I have learnt to be more confident whilst doing public speeches and I’d like to thank our business mentors for giving us helpful advice and supporting us throughout our project so far.

Teams from Abbeywood Community School with their business mentors and a 'Dragon' from Airbus


The mentors were also present on the day to provide the teams with much appreciated moral support as for many this was the first time they had presented to a large audience. Carys Thomas a volunteer from Great Western Railway said,

being able to instil confidence in these young people, who were timid to begin with and watching them grow, was highly rewarding. Our support at the event gave them a familiar face to resonate this new found confidence and allowed us to proudly offer our help and guidance.

The 'Dragons'

Twenty panellists volunteered as ‘Dragons’ for the day using their expertise and knowledge to support the development of the projects and the young people’s skills.  Tom Prince, a ‘Dragon’ and the Widening Participation and Undergraduate Recruitment Officer team at the University of Bristol commented, 

I thoroughly enjoyed my role as a ‘Dragon’, the students were brilliant - it's clear that they and the mentors have worked incredibly hard and it was genuinely impressive to see them all present with such confidence and professionalism.

The next stage of the programme will see the teams put their plans into action and go beyond the classroom to help improve the lives of others in communities across Bristol. Once their projects are complete the teams will enter the final challenge of the programme, The Boardroom Challenge, where they will compete for the chance to be crowned ‘Community-Apprentice Team of the Year’ in Mayor Marvin’s Boardroom.