Venue Features: Buzz Lockleaze, Bristol

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At Zipcube, we’re often impressed by how many unique spaces there are out there in the UK and elsewhere. One of the best parts of what we do is getting the opportunity to speak to venues and find out more about these individual gems hidden away in (sometimes) unexpected places.

Buzz Lockleaze is a great example: a small venue making a big difference to its community. Housed in a former Post Office, the team at Buzz have been working hard since 2014 to empower local residents and help people develop their job skills. We chatted with Sarah King, who handles marketing and social media for the venue, to find out more…

Can you tell us a bit about the history of Buzz and what it does?

SK: Our organisation is situated in the heart of Lockleaze and occupies a four storey building comprising a community café, health food shop, an allotment-sized garden and enterprise space.

Buzz Lockleaze CIC was set up in 2014 and we acquired the building on Gainsborough Square as an asset-locked community transfer from North Bristol Advice Centre. Buzz café and shop was set up, as well as our Employment Project, in an effort to address the local unemployment and food poverty rates. Historically, the building was a Post Office and lots of people from the community still walk in and remember how it used to look before – which gives the building a bit of a sense of nostalgia.

On the ground floor is the café/shop and access to the garden at the rear, we are also developing our basement space to provide further seating for the café and it will serve as event space for activities, workshops and meetings.

How would you describe the core aims of what you do at Buzz Lockleaze?

SK: Buzz Lockleaze CIC is a social enterprise with a focus on employability & enterprise support, and improving wellbeing through all things to do with healthy food provision. We are trying to address the economic and social inequalities of Lockleaze, including unemployment, health and wellbeing, and aim to offer a local place where people can come and relax in a safe space. Through our older people’s project we are working to reduce social isolation and engage a wide range of generations in activities and clubs.

Have you found that hiring out your spare space for hot-desking or meetings has been helpful?

SK: The people we’ve met through hiring out the meeting room and through hot desking have really made the experience worthwhile. It’s great to be able to offer our space to them and show them what we’re all about, we especially love to see the space used by other social enterprises or SMEs.

The offer of renting the space has also attracted more people that wouldn’t have come to Buzz otherwise and who didn’t know we were here. They get to hang out in the café and pick up a few things from the shop, and they also know they can get support with employment, enterprise, training, etc.

What has been the most enjoyable experience you’ve had while working at Buzz?

SK: I would say getting to meet all the local people over time, as they discover Buzz and find ways to get involved and connect with us. It’s great to see someone come through the doors just for a coffee and end up joining the gardening club or receiving a business grant from us.

What are the greatest challenges you face as a social enterprise?

SK: Our main challenges at Buzz are securing steady streams of income. The low footfall in the area means that we can’t make as much profit as we’d like from the café and shop, and we rely heavily on the funding we receive to keep things going. We also have marketing limitations, as we can’t compete with other cafes/shops who can afford big budget marketing campaigns and advertising. We try to promote our services locally and hope that word-of-mouth will keep people coming back!

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