Growing Bolder - BAB Voices
Community Kick-Start Fund

‘There is a great need for older people to stay connected’, says Barbara Bloomfield, one of the co-founders of the Growing Bolder group.

Growing Bolder is a group that helps older people re-connect with their passions, express themselves through art, and grow bolder as they enter their ‘third age’. The group was set up and is run by Barbara Bloomfield and Mary Everett, and is one of the 39 new initiatives funded by Bristol Ageing Better’s Community Kick-Start Fund.



‘It’s quite easy to sit at home and feel like “what am I doing with my life?”, “who am I?”, you know. We tend to lose that sense of purpose that we had when we were working. So that was my thought; to bring people together, get them reconnected with their passions, and just have a good time... basically’, shares Barbara when talking about the initial idea of Growing Bolder.

On Thursday 7th July, the group presented part of their creative writing and poetry at Avenue House Care Home, where the care home residents were also joined by the RH Lord Mayor of Bristol, Councillor Jeff Lovell.

Barbara Bloomfield and Bristol Lord Mayor Councillor Jeff Lovell

‘Just a bit of kick-start funding is what you need to get a group going; it’s really hard to do it without that.’

When talking about the process of putting an application forward to BAB’s Community Kick-Start Fund, Barbara confesses she rushed to get her group’s in as they decided to go for the funding a few hours before the deadline. ‘I talked to my friend Mary Everett — we do the groups together — and she said to “just do it” and to send it that same night. And we did it and emailed it with only 10 minutes to spare!’, Barbara laughs.

‘It was delightfully easy. I’ve never actually filled in a funding bid before, but I was so relieved, you know. It was so easy; I thought it was going to be so difficult.’

Some of the members of Growing Bolder have suffered from depression and other mental issues, and have also felt isolated and lonely in the past. Barbara praises the participants, adding: ‘I’m amazed at how much bolder they have become. From being very very shy, for example, one of the people who read today said “I would love to sing, but I can’t sing, and I’m not even sure if I want to come to this group”, and look at her today — she was singing in Russian!’

‘I think the difference is about coming back together and becoming hopeful again.’

Barbara’s advice to people feeling lonely and isolated is to be bold and make that first step. There are lots of great groups and activities for older people in Bristol. ‘Just go out there and give it a try, you might not like the first thing you try. If you don’t like it, try something else!’

Barbara is running creative writing groups in the autumn, and Mary and Barbara are offering another Growing Bolder group for people over 55 in the Horfield area. If anyone is interested, please email for further information.

BAB's Community Kick-Start Fund will be welcoming applications from the 1st of September until the 29th September, visit our Open Applications page to find out how you can kick-start your project! 

Growing Bolder Group

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