Last week I volunteered at the Catalyse Change Bootcamp. Catalyse Change is a social enterprise based in Bristol which supports young women with developing knowledge and skills for careers in sustainability. Read more here: 

The first bootcamp, aimed at women who want to make a positive difference in the world and are interested in a career in sustainability, took place in Bristol from the 22nd-24th August 2017 based at the University. The camp was residential and we stayed in the Beautiful Clifton Hill House.

Day 1 ‘Envisioning Change’ 

The first day started with an introduction and Ice Breaker followed by an introduction to sustainability and the bootcamp themes which focused on the 17 UN sustainability goals.

The themes were: Food, Nature, Wellbeing, Transport, Energy and Resources.



The next session looked at personal profiling and how we can be change makers. We were introduced to the Jungian factors and personality traits that fit in the colour groups- red, blue, yellow and green. We started by standing on a rope between reflective – extrovert and think – feel to decide where we thought we were along the spectrum. We then were given out cards which we had to use to decide if they described us or if we should pass them on to someone else. The cards were colour coded which then gave us an idea of which colour we were or which combination of colours.

I had a few different colours but ended up with more green cards. The description of green includes- empathetic listener, peacemaker, see both sides of the argument, tolerant + open minded, non judgemental + prepared to help others, wont be rushed into snap decisions, a calming influence. Everyone is a combination of traits across the colours but we learned about our predominant colours. Each colour has both strengths and weaknesses and through the sessions we learnt to notice certain traits of the different groups.

The girls had previously filled in a questionnaire and received more detailed information about their profile which they were able to have a one to one session with Rhian to discuss which they found helpful.

Next we heard from two speakers:

Eleanor Shipman: Founder of Something Good, Something Useful and Katie Finnegan-Clarke: Social Justice Campaigner & Innovator. Ellie is an artist and uses her skills to engage sustainability. She is Fun Palaces Ambassador at University of Bristol, and freelance artist and Director / Founder of something good, something useful.

Ellies advice was- ditch draining people and look after your own wellbeing, which she does by using art as a nurture outlet. Read more about Ellies career here:

Katie Finnegan-Clarke

Katie, as she introduced herself, is a professional campaigner and intersectional feminist. She is self employed and works for a range of organisations including 38 degrees, hollaback and Ladiyfest. Katies advice was- follow your heart, do things you care about, work hard and meet people.

In the confidence building workshop we got up and moving and thought about our posture and body language and how we come across when speaking to people. It taught us the difference between fake confidence and authentic confidence. (Clue – authentic confidence looks and feels better!!)

Gemma David

Gemma David

To end day one we had an emotional resilience session including mindful breathing meditation with Gemma from

The Oxford dictionary definition of wellbeing is ‘the state of being comfortable, healthy or happy’.

We talked about how being happy can be being okay/alright/good enough. We talked about looking after our wellbeing and how this is the crux of emotional resilience which is the ability to adapt to stressful situations. This is something we develop and learn: What supports and sustains us; how we are are able to plan, problem solve and time manage; our physical health; and our support network. Gemma went through the 5 ways to wellbeing: connect, be active, take notice, learn, give. She then led us through a 5 minutes mindful breathing exercise.

Mindfulness, defined by the oxford mindfulness centre, is ‘moment to moment awareness of ones experience without judgement’.

I really enjoyed the session and it has reminded me to try mindful breathing again (I am going to try use the insight timer app again – I already have it downloaded but Gemma also recommended it). Gemma also spoke about living with the seasons and Chinese medicine. She finished with talking about vitamin P – a daily dose of pleasure. This can be as little as enjoying a cup of tea, cooking a nourishing and delicious breakfast, texting your mum or going on a short walk. Whatever you personally choose.

During dinner we had talks from Jennifer Best: Director of Poco Tapas Bar (I can’t wait to get the opportunity to go!) and Sarah Moore: Director of Fundraising, Avon Wildlife Trust.

Optional evening activities – Talk by author Subitha Baghirathan about her book ‘The colours of sand’ about her experiences of living in Saudi Arabia- this was such an interesting session about the gender inequalities in the country. Art activities to decorate our cards where we wrote down compliments from each other at the end of the days sessions. Film screening of ‘Demain’ which was a good watch.

Throughout the three days the girls were encouraged to think about and write down their goals. We discussed SMART goals and starting goals with ‘I’.

If you write down a goal you are 42% more likely to achieve it just by writing it down!

Day 2  ‘Inform & Explore’

After a recap of day 1 and an ice breaker to get us going we were introduced to a variety of careers through stories from the bootcamp theme Mentors:

Transport – Vicky Stone, Project Co-ordinator, Sustrans

Wellbeing – Chloe Tingle, CEO, No More Taboo

Food – Sara Venn, Horticulturist, garden writer, food activist

Resources – Nicci Peck, CEO, The Sofa Project

Nature – Matt Harcourt, Avon Wildlife Trust

Energy – NIkki Jones, Author / Researcher

This was followed by a Q&A session in smaller groups with the mentors.

The girls could then choose one theme they were particularly interested in to take part in a problem solving activity in small groups led by the mentors. I was involved in the food theme with Sarah Venn (Check out incredible edible Bristol). We focused on looking at a problem to do with plants being brought in from abroad through Holland and being sold cheaply by big commercial sellers in the UK. 25% of plants in big shops/garden centres/supermarkets are thrown away as waste!!!! The girls had to work through the problem looking at the causes and effects, identify the most important cause and effect, decide on an end goal, think about who would help resolve the problem, choose what actions to take and work out how these actions could be achieved.

It takes 21 times to change a habit!

We then had three more inspirational speakers talking us through their careers.

  • Amy Robinson: Business Development Manager, Triodos Bank.
  • Marti Burgess: Head of Corporate SME, Gregg Latchams.
  • Rachel Quinn: Senior Environmental Advisor, Skanska.

Amy started by asking the question ‘who here thinks they are generally lucky?’ then ‘who here thinks they are generally unlucky?’. She told us her career path to where she is now and how its important to find ways to make your own opportunities out of things and how at the time things dont make sense and then looking back it looks like they do. Her tips were to go out and meet people and take interest, find that tiny piece inside you that can stand up and speak and do it- you don’t have to be an extrovert, making and building relationships is what matters.


Rachel Quinn

Along side her career story Rachel spoke about finding your passion. She introduced some of her influences when she was younger which included Madonna- tough, ambitious woman, knew what she wanted and her Grandad who told her to ‘plan you life’ so you have something to aim for. She also spoke about maintaining positivity + motivation and overcoming fears + challenges. Marty told us how she used her university education to give her a good solid foundation which enables you to do anything. ‘Options are power’. It gives options in order to chop and change what you do. She went from law degree to night club owner to what she does now with more things in between. She advises using past experience, using what you’re good at and living a conscious life.

The final session of day two was about communications Skills – Becoming an Effective Storyteller with Rachel Savage, Founder of Brand New Story. 1st golden rule of communication = know your audience. Rachel introduced us to the hero’s journey which is a writing tool used in story telling. Rachel uses it in her business with her clients. During the session we had to create a character from our problem solving session which is one part of the story process.

On day two dinner was a surprise Wednesday roast dinner (fantastic – would encourage this to incorporated into your week more often) and we had talks from Amy Walsh: Student Engagement Officer, University of Bristol. Jessica Ferrow: Freelance Sustainability Writer & Project Manager. Hannah Tweddell: Sustainability and Engaged Learning Coordinator, University of Bristol.

Optional evening activities were a focus group with Chloe from no more taboo ( Art activities and the second half of the film ‘Demain’.

Day 3 – ‘Becoming a Change-Maker’

For the final day we moved to a new location within the Uni and started with a session called designing your future with Ann Padley a Teaching Fellow in Design Thinking. The aim was to explore personal passions, skills and future plans and discuss the problems and opportunities in the world as well as to work together, gain inspiration from each other and develop ideas and get feedback on the pledges the girls were creating to present at the end of the day. Ann spoke to us about side projects – ‘ideas that just wont go away, little ideas in the back of your head that keep bugging you, keeps knawing in quiet moments’ David Hieatt. She spoke about the cross over between personal and professional into side projects and where they fit in your life along with showing us some examples.

The challenge of the camp was to create a sustainability pledge. It could be big or small as long as it was clear on the problem going to be solved, explained how you intended to try and solve it and that it is achievable.

During this session we did lots of activities in pairs including asking why (more than 5 times) and doing mini interviews with each other in order to create ideas for our pledges.

The final session of activities was led by Mena Fombo: Coach, facilitator, motivational speaker and activist ( The aim of the session was developing a Clear Vision, Goals & Plan for Your Pledge; Tools for Actioning Your Pledge & Managing Yourself Effectively.

Mena wants us to embrace the unknown!

Mena explained her work and T-shirt ‘No you can not touch my hair’ and her aim to improve education for all people and raise awareness of inequalities in education.

‘Own the statement and work towards it’

This is how we started the session – chanting and owning the statements!

During Mena’s session we took our pledges through to completion. We talked them through with each other in order to improve them. We also used ‘GROW’ to develop them in more detail. G-oal, R-eality, O-ptions, W-ill. Finally we designed T-shirts to go along side our pledges.

I wanted my pledge to be based around what I can do in relation to food and food communities along side started a full time job and not losing sight of what i’m passionate about. Through this session I developed my pledge to finish with a goal – to change/protect the future of food. Basically my aim is to get involved or volunteer in a community group/organisation and continue(/start properly) writing blog posts to share my passion and help educate people about important food topics and to not lose sight of my final goal to work in these areas.

After lunch we finished the three days with our pledge presentations. All of us presented our pledge to the group with the opportunity to receive feedback. The pledges were amazing, they were all fully thought out, bold and diverse. The girls are for sure going to have amazing futures ahead of them.

After some closing reflections from everyone it was time to say good bye! 😦

Overall the boot camp was great and I would recommend it to any young women and mothers/aunties/friends/cousins/partners/siblings of young women to get them involved next year!

A big Thank you to the Catalyse Change team for the amazing few days and the opportunity to get involved.

I was also introduced more to bullet journalling and I have started one this week! (I might share this soon)

Morwenna’s @morwennab_ Blog   

Follow our journey at:  @CatalyseCh