June 18, 2024

Celebrating Em: A Journey of Growth and Connection at Urban Pursuit

Join us in celebrating Em's impactful journey at Urban Pursuit. Discover how adventure and mentorship transform lives and inspire growth in Bristol's youth.

As a colleague, Em Rowntree, sees out her final working weeks with us, Senior Adventure Youth Worker, Tom Burgess, comments here on the reactions of one of the young people who had worked with her.


Whilst our tagline here at Urban Pursuit, “taking risks to transform lives”, refers to the value of adrenaline sports and outdoor activities for improving lives, it actually runs much deeper than that. We take creative and relational risks: risk is seen in its proper sense. We create opportunities for young people to learn how to act wisely in the face of uncertainty, finding ways to encourage them to put their rudder into the streamline flow of the present moment and navigate themselves forwards.


To accept the right level of challenge at the right time, in the right place, in the right way is quite a journey to go on, and when it does happen it creates the ground for positive growth. These are all abstract words that point to a slow change we observe in our young people; far better to provide a story… one emerged just this week, in fact. To me, this is a story which captures the wonderful fusion between playfulness and professionalism that cuts right through the young person’s experience with us and makes this place special. This story marks the end of an era: the denouement of a relationship. One fruit of this story is the making of a song.



James (pseudonym) was in a small group run by Em over a year ago, and it became clear that their work together had a profound impact on him. The session today started sluggishly, James was downcast and despondent, a pattern of recent weeks. Things for James are challenging at the moment – it is hard to find motivation or even a basic trust that life contains possibility and meaning. Believing that things matter, that he matters, and that people care – these are some of his questions, questions he is increasingly tired of wearing on his chest. He is not often at school. A consistent pillar in his week remains his one-to-one sessions at Urban Pursuit.


This morning, James learns of Em’s plans to leave for a new place and new job. This news opens the floodgates and the cocktail of heaviness and sadness he is carrying is expressed in tears. A good moment, well held. Later James is encouraged to write a letter to Em. Another youth worker with a penchant for AI helps James put this letter to music. The collaborative nature of this, the depth of the song and playful combination of disparate influences created this track. A track we want to share with the world!


Here at Urban Pursuit we believe education is far more than an induction process into the world of work. It is a participatory journey towards greater wholeness, creating the environment for each of us to thrive. If young people were resources, we couldn’t afford to waste them. Yet they are so much more, they are the continual emergence of life making sense of itself, primed with qualities and possibilities, skills and passion.


James’s words, represented in a silly but emotionally resonant song, speak to the meaningful, vulnerable relationships that are formed here at Urban Pursuit. Vulnerability is at the core of creativity and adventure – it is at the heart of risk taking which, over time, transforms lives.





James’s words for Em’s song: 

Lemony zesty friendly Emily. We don’t have any good memories because it was all so fun. I’m sad to see you leave, but I appreciate that it’s the right move for you at the moment with regard to your personal and professional development.

You’ve been a really important person in my life over the last year and I’ll always look back fondly on the time we spent together. 

You’ve been a massively positive influence on me, and you’ve helped me grow as a person.

I really hope your new life up in Yorkshire goes well and I will look forward to hearing how things are going for you.


Bristol Centre
Avonquay House
Cumberland Basin

Email: office@urbanpursuit.co.uk

Tel: 0117 239 0932  
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