Demonstrating the value of local partnerships: Barton Hill micro-campus

The University of Bristol was created as a university for the city and has a long history of working in partnership with local organisations and communities to achieve shared goals.

Bringing staff and students together with local communities

We opened our micro-campus at Wellspring Settlement in Barton Hill in 2020. Housed in three brightly coloured shipping containers, the space is designed to bring together staff and students with a range of partners and communities in east Bristol.

Our relationship with Wellspring Settlement dates back more than 100 years. University Settlements were set up across the UK and USA in the late 19th and early 20th century as a place where staff and students from universities lived and worked within a community.

Two Bristol academics, working with others, founded the one in Barton Hill in 1911, and our staff and students were instrumental in setting up the first antenatal clinic in Bristol, a school for mothers, holiday camps, a library and a wide variety of clubs and classes for people of all ages.

Now a thriving, independent community anchor organisation, Wellspring Settlement’s present-day activities include community inclusion and development work; health and wellbeing services; money and work support; and family services.

Outputs and outcomes

The micro-campus creates opportunities for collaborating with Wellspring Settlement, the other organisations on site, and the wider East Bristol community. This has supported projects such as:

  • research examining the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns;
  • student internships with fellow Wellspring Settlement tenants, Bristol Refugee Rights;
  • a Digimakers Engineering summer school;
  • collaborative research project ‘Connecting through Culture as we Age’;
  • a community garden, supported by the University’s Botanic Gardens;
  • joint employability initiatives to support progression into jobs at the University

The micro-campus is also helping to nurture and developing relationships with partners and communities in East Bristol, ahead of the opening of Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus.

A group of our students, working with academics in Social Sciences and staff at Wellspring Settlement, helped to secure a £100,000 grant for the Wellspring Settlement during the 2020 lockdown.

They channelled their energies and expertise into better understanding the needs of residents in Lawrence Hill, as they adapted to the challenges of COVID-19.


Activities at the micro-campus include:

  • taster sessions
  • short courses
  • research
  • widening participation
  • extra-curricular volunteering opportunities.
Edit this page