“We believe that although talent is distributed evenly across the globe, opportunities are not.” This striking statement, as summarised by Babassa, underscores why as a community we must be proactive in shaping how we address diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Babbasa was formed with this reality in mind, and with a mission to change it in the South West. 

Babbasa is a social enterprise that supports young people aged 16 to 25 to reach their career potentials. Through its three core programmes, Youth Empowerment, Recruitment Support and Workplace Inclusion, the team empowers underrepresented young people in Bristol to pursue their ambitions using actionable steps.

Sangeetha Wynter, Training and Inclusion manager at Babbasa, tells us that they have officially helped over 3000 young people. This achievement is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the team over the years and has certainly influenced the journey of 1000s of young people across the city. 

Meet Sangeetha & Qazzally

Bristol is a tale of two cities. It's the 7th worst city out of 348 districts in England and Wales for people of colour to live and thrive"

— Sangeetha Wynter, Training and Inclusion Manager at Babbasa

Uplifting young people 

As members of the tech community know well, the past decade has seen Bristol grow from strength to strength. But whilst the tech and creative sectors have boomed, not everyone in Bristol has been brought along for the ride of success.

60% of the city’s ethnic minority population live in areas of economic disadvantage and two-thirds of these are in Bristol’s most disadvantaged inner-city wards. Bristol’s ethnic minority employment gap is over twice the national average (6.4% difference in the unemployment rate compared with 2.9%), whilst those from ethnic minority backgrounds are more likely to be employed in low-skilled jobs.

In Babbasa’s research, they uncovered that this was not down to a lack of drive. 60% of Bristol’s young people from ethnically diverse and low-income communities know what career they want to pursue. However, only 19% of young people knew what they needed to do to achieve their professional aspirations.

Babbasa exists to reshape these statistics. Illustrating the fantastic impact Babbasa’s programme can have is Qazzally Ali: “There was one summer that I was looking for an opportunity to do work experience and my mum suggested I speak to Babbassa,” Qazzally explains. He met the team and got set up on a youth conference that enabled him to join their mentoring programme: “Through that, I got to join up with a mentor. His name’s Ben; he’s a great guy. He helped me get a Communications Assistant role at the Bristol Pound, a local organisation where I could hone my writing and marketing skills.”

Following this and a few other marketing experiences, Qazzally ended up going full circle and is now at Babbasa as an Executive Assistant. As alumni, Qazzally remains a trailblazer for Babassa. He explains that this means: “Carrying the Babbassa values wherever you go: be kind to everyone you see, be imaginative about your aspirations, and be determined to achieve them.

“The vision is to create real change across the city for the families and lives of young people living in poverty”

“It’s also about having connections within a network, sort of a family outside of your family. A collection of people you know, people you’re getting to know, and people you’ve not met yet. I still haven’t met a lot of trailblazers, but I know that I’m connected to them.”

Sangeetha adds that working with young people like Qazzally is the best part of the job: “A particular young person comes to mind, who actually worked for us for a bit in the office as an intern. She’s now got her dream job working in fashion in Amsterdam, and she’s heading off to Paris as well soon. I mean, that’s amazing. So stories like these are what I’m most proud about.”

Babbasa facilitates a multitude of hands-on, practical methods in which they can elevate young people within their career journey, many of which you can get involved with today. Every Thursday Babassa runs Hub Days for young people to meet a professional network, get career advice and have their CVs/ Cover Letters checked over. Every other Tuesday and Wednesday there are online workshops designed to help you get that job, and if you have specific barriers to reaching these goals, Babassa also offers dedicated one-to-one support.

But, as we know, the issue doesn’t end with talent. In order to make institutional, lasting change, employers must be engaged. 

Catalysing lasting change in Bristol

To tackle this, Babbasa set up BRIS services. “Bristol is a tale of two cities. It’s the 7th worst city out of 348 districts in England and Wales for people of colour to live and thrive. That is such a startling statistic. As a Bristolian myself, I feel taken aback every time I read it. The reason we set up BRIS was to support young people further. We want to take a 360 approach,” explains Sangeetha.

“After mentoring young people, helping them with their CVs and getting them into jobs, what happens then? What happens when they start their first day at this big company and they’re met with barriers, such as microaggressions and unconscious bias?”

“We are extremely passionate about creating lasting change in the city of Bristol”

To prevent this from happening, BRIS services provides recruitment support, as well as training and inclusion services to help companies advertise jobs, attract more diverse talent, and in turn support them with their inclusion needs. Sangeetha elaborates, “We help deliver training to companies and organisations to provide them with the tools to be culturally competent so our young people can live and thrive in these in these spaces.

“At Babbasa we support young people to reach their career potentials and help them find jobs, but we can’t just stop there.” If your organisation wants to improve its diversity and inclusion approach, Babbasa can help by offering bespoke advice, training and support. Sangeetha tells us, “We can deliver different modules of training, from inclusive leadership to inclusive HR practices to really help equip companies with the tools they need to support people from diverse backgrounds.

“Firstly, we get our clients to fill out an inclusion health checker, which is a survey for us to diagnose what the issues are, what the barriers are, and how we can help support the company or the client. This involves the organisation being honest as possible. If we know where they’re coming from, then we can provide better support.”

Alongside this, Babbasa connects employers to employees, as Sangeetha explains, “A lot of people don’t know we actually run almost a little bit like a recruitment agency as part of BRIS. Companies can advertise through our platforms; we have a great reputation in the community so this can be an invaluable resource. They can also approach us to do insight days, which are almost like taster sessions where our young people come to visit their offices, or their company, and gain a sense of what it’s like to work in a particular industry.”

OurCity2030

To further entrench a real shift in Bristol, Babbasa has teamed up with the City Office with a vision to transform lives. Sangeetha tells us, “We are extremely passionate about creating lasting change in the city of Bristol. The word Babbasa itself is an ancient African word, which actually means community, collective, and responsibility. And that basically sums up what we’re trying to do with OurCity2030.”

As Qazzally explains, “Our mission for 2030 is an exciting one. We’ve collaborated with the City Office to help over 2000 young people into a median salary job over the next decade.” OurCity2030 has a bold and positive target to support at least one person from each inner-city household in Bristol to secure a median salary (£30,353) by 2030. This vision aims to catalyse systemic change, inspiring both citizens and businesses to get involved in the pursuit of a fairer future for young people and was included as a goal in the third iteration of Bristol’s One City Plan.

“In a nutshell, OurCity2030 aims to support young people to acquire meaningful employment whilst helpng to increase representation and inclusion within the workplace. Moreover, we’re aiming to drive strategy and momentum for more purposeful cross-sector collaborations,” says Qazzally. 

Sangeetha continues, “The vision is to create real change across the city for the families and lives of young people living in poverty. So the reason we’ve chosen a median salary as that is how we can boost social mobility. We want to help these young people to progress.” To raise awareness and push forward this mission, Babbasa is hosting an event on 23 November 2022. “We’re bringing together community partners, businesses, education providers, and funders from across the city. It’s gonna be a really exciting event,” she explains. 

On the evening, guests can expect to experience a night to remember with event sponsors Purplefish, Our Media, Team Love, SLX, McCann Bristol and McCann Synergy coming together to deliver a plethora of creative executions throughout the evening that will excite, dismay and unite the audience. Speakers will share the ask to the guests and their organisations, encouraging those in attendance to pledge support and consider becoming ambassadors for OurCity2030.

[Main image credit: Qezia Gill and Bhagesh Sachania]

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Shona Wright

Shona covers all things editorial at TechSPARK. She publishes news articles, interviews and features about our fantastic tech and digital ecosystem, working with startups and scaleups to spread the word about the cool things they're up to. She also oversees TechSPARK's social media, sharing the latest updates on everything from investment news to green tech meetups and inspirational stories.


Shona Wright

Shona covers all things editorial at TechSPARK. She publishes news articles, interviews and features about our fantastic tech and digital ecosystem, working with startups and scaleups to spread the word about the cool things they're up to.

She also oversees TechSPARK's social media, sharing the latest updates on everything from investment news to green tech meetups and inspirational stories.

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