‘We walk together’: sharing city and culture with Bristol Voices

The Bristol Voices programme matches students new to Bristol with members of our alumni community to help them familiarise with their surroundings. Students learn more about the city and their University and our volunteers learn a lot, in turn!

Claire Nuttall (BSc 1983), who was linked with two students from China, shares her experience as a Bristol Voices volunteer.

I came to Bristol as a 17-year-old student in the early 80s but fell in love with the city and have been here ever since. I have always volunteered in my spare time so when I heard about the Bristol Voices programme I jumped at the chance to be part of it as I thought it would be a really nice thing to be involved with.

It would allow me to share my passion and knowledge of the city and to be a friendly face to the students, helping them settle in and get to know the city and the University. One of my passions is walking, something that I did a lot over lockdown, and so when I met Samantha and Shuting who I was paired with, I suggested that we walk together.

We started local to the University so they would feel orientated and get to know their way around.

As the months have gone on we’ve gone further afield and have been all over the place! They’re really fascinated by Bristol’s history, which is so different from their own. We walk and chat about all sorts of things, swapping cultural differences.

One of the students had never left China before she came to the UK. She had been here about two weeks when I first met her and I’ve seen her confidence grow every time we’ve met.

I’ve got a lot out of it too. We ask each other questions and they show me things on their phones. I know my limitations and I can’t recommend the latest nightclub to visit but I’ve loved sharing my city and I’ve learnt so much from them. It’s been fascinating and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know them. They’re both very clever young women who are funny and interesting.

We both decided to keep our connection going beyond the formal end of the programme and it feels like we’ve developed a genuinely warm friendship.

I feel very privileged and proud to be a Bristol Volunteer and I’ve loved being part of Bristol Voices this year. It’s never felt like a chore, even though life is much busier now than when I first signed up. I really hope to be a part of it again next year.

Our Bristol Voices programme pairs students with alumni volunteers who share their advice and experience of living in Bristol. Starting life in a new city can be daunting but alumni can provide guidance and help students make the most of their time in the city. The programme will be running again from September 2022. Find out more here.

There are lots of different ways Bristol alumni can volunteer their time, including offering career advice, mentoring a student or being involved in events, so it’s easy to find an opportunity which suits your availability and skillset. Read about all of our volunteering opportunities and get involved.

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