Bristol Furlough Skills Exchange

The Coronavirus pandemic has meant that many Bristol based cultural and creative organisations have temporarily furloughed staff through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. We are committed to making sure those who work in the Culture and Creative Industries are properly and fairly paid. At the same time we recognise that volunteers make an essential contribution to our cultural life and that during this unprecedented time, some people are looking for meaningful opportunities to help others whilst they are furloughed.

The DIY Arts Network has set up The Bristol Furlough Skills Exchange to create opportunities for individuals and organisations to work together, sharing their skills and expertise to help sustain the Culture and Creative Industries and enable resilience and recovery.

What is the Bristol Furlough Skills Exchange?

It’s a system where people who are currently on furlough can post the skills and expertise that they would like to offer, and individuals or organisations can post specific tasks that they need help with. It’s an open forum hosted on a slack channel to share skills and needs. For example, someone could post they need some help with copy writing for their website. Whilst it is open, posts will be moderated before going live to ensure they fit with the guidelines.

Is it only open to people on furlough to offer their skills?

No, it’s open to anyone who would like to volunteer their skills and expertise.

Doesn’t this jeopardise work for freelancers at a time when it’s most needed?

A key part of the Culture and Creative industries sector is made up of freelancers and sole traders, a number of whom don’t receive the current self-employed equivalent of the 80% furlough pay. The Bristol furlough skills exchange is being set up in response to people wanting somewhere to share and develop their skills and support the sector, including freelancers. We suggest a time limit of two hours is the maximum people offer on a voluntary basis.

How will this help the Culture & Creative Industries sector?

The Bristol Furlough Skills Exchange offers organisations and individuals a place to ask for support from professionals in a position to help in order to develop their practice, sustain their organisation and enable resilience and recovery. E.g. help in setting up an online marketplace, developing a business plan, bid-writing, wellbeing, fitness etc We are stronger working together as a sector, and this provides a simple way of people being able to share their skills and expertise and help each other.

What are the rules of furlough? Won’t I or my company jeopardise it by doing this?

Whilst those on furlough are not able to work for their own organisation, it is possible to volunteer your time and expertise to others if you would like to. If you are concerned, do check with your employer before starting.

Employers cannot ask their furloughed workers to be involved – it is voluntary and the individuals’ choice.

How does it work?

There are two slack channels – one to post if you are offering your skills and time, and the other for requests for help. Email [email protected] to request to join them. The slack channels are self-policed. We encourage all participants to abide by these guidelines and maintain an open, generous spirit when using this support service.

Useful resource:

If you need 1-1 advice as a Bristol-based micro-business of less than 10 people (freelancers included) on what support is available to you; please contact