The Freelancer's Guide To Bristol

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Bristol is booming. Two years ago the city was labelled as second only to London in the UK for projected economic growth. In the past few years it has been gifted several 'best of' titles - could 'best place to be a freelancer in the UK' be one of them?

There are so many reasons why this city is ‘buzzy’ – a term thrown into most descriptions of Bristol. Aside from the titles it holds (European Green Capital 2015, Sunday Times best city to live in Britain), excitement hangs in the air as you walk around. Bristol has a pioneering spirit that is unavoidably infectious.

IPSE’s own representative Alex Grove is a source of support in the Bristol region. He moved to the South West earlier this year as part of IPSE’s plan to enable the self-employed on a regional level. He has been forging initiatives between IPSE and other local groups in order to strengthen the community.

“There is so much happening in Bristol. I have been working with a variety of organisations to offer IPSE’s input and support. We’ll also be proudly sponsoring events, including the SPARKies Awards in February. We’re working to strengthen fast-growing communities of self- employed people in lots of sectors. It’s very exciting.”

The Booming Sectors

Tech Nation, a report by Tech City UK, lists 61,653 people in the Bath and Bristol area as working in the tech sector at the start of February 2015. It is widely recognised that Bristol (alongside Belfast) fosters the fastest moving tech sector in the UK, and there are countless support networks for the self-employed in this sector.

IPSE works with TechSPARK, which is one example of an informative hub of tech geniuses (a deserved label) in this area. It brings together the brightest minds in the South West at events, promotes roles through its jobs board, posts articles on the latest trends, and does a lot more besides to encourage growth and innovation for tech entrepreneurs.

Bristol fosters many entrepreneurs who have started their own community to connect and inspire. IPSE has also been working with Faye Dicker who in 2013 set up Freelance Mum, a network of events that are business focused and family friendly. Mothers are encouraged to bring their children along. As Faye says “I’m a born and bred Bristolian. It’s a great city, full of diversity and independent businesses. It was through freelancing that I was able to see a need within the community for a place for mothers to network and bring their children.”

Just on the outskirts of Bristol big-name company headquarters, including those of BAE Systems, Rolls Royce and Airbus, show that there is a visibly prominent engineering and aerospace industry. Such companies offer many contractor engineer and technician roles.

Artistic and creative ventures also abound in the city. Local arts festivals crop up every month, one of note being Upfest which involves the painting of huge art murals. Of course you can’t forget the infamous Bristol International Balloon Fiesta (pictured), and Bristol Harbour Festival in July is also a definite date for your diary. Great for local cider, not that that’s important.

Life in the City

One year ago Bristol was named by The Sunday Times as the best city to live in Britain. It boasts strong transport links with London – which will be updated in 2017 – and an international airport, while remaining sustainable in its outlook. Sustrans, Britain’s leading sustainable transport charity, is based here and Bristol has now been named the UK’s first ‘Cycling City’. Commuting cycle routes from both north and south of the city centre, and along the length of the River Avon, are mostly traffic free.

For this, and many other reasons, Bristol was named the European Green Capital 2015.

"Bristol has great potential to act as a role model for the UK, Europe and the world"   European Commission

Bristol is also a visibly green city. The Clifton Suspension Bridge over the Gorge and the River Avon, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, is arguably the most iconic landmark of Bristol and leads to Leigh Woods National Nature Reserve. This is one of several nature reserves which are easily accessible and which can help to make the work/life balance for freelancers that bit better.

If you’re looking to relocate, places such as Leigh Woods are reserved mostly for millionaires. However, the St George and other areas to the East of Bristol are more affordable options and many see leafy suburban roads interspersed with parks.

Final Thoughts

Bristol is without doubt a thriving example of a forward-thinking UK city. It can provide the blueprint for ideal cities of tomorrow with countless support groups driving a pioneering entrepreneurial attitude, many of which are supported by IPSE, and much more to stimulate the mind besides. If you’re self-employed and looking to relocate, form an orderly queue.