Foundation - Bristol-Oporto Association Website

Go to content


The Bristol-Oporto Foundation

The Foundation awards small grants to schools, youth, art and sports groups, etc., to enable projects to be undertaken on a Portuguese theme.

In partnership with NatWest Bank, and annual EDUCATIONAL grant is awarded to a local school to undertake a project. This has led to an impressive range of imaginative and creative displays.

In 2017 the Bristol Oporto Foundation offered the University of Bristol a  small grant to go to a student attending University or having a work  placement in Porto during their year abroad.  Student Katie Harwood was  chosen by the Hispanics Department as the best candidate to receive this  award. She attended Porto University from late September 2017 and agreed to let us have reports on her time in the city. These follow below.

She obviously settled into life there very well and we wish her every sucess in the future.

The Foundation has also given the following awards in 2017:
  • £300 NatWest Award for Cleve House School for a Portugal project with year 5/6 pupils
  • £350 grant for Katie Harwood, Bristol University student in Porto from this (2017) September
  • £250 participation in 24hrs in Bristol by Miguel machado Rocha
  • £250 participation in 24hrs in Bristol by Sarah Diamond Vale
  • £300 support of a Bedminster school/Scout group taking part in a Christams Lantern Parade. This will also feature our Barco Rabelo model. There will be fireworks on Sat 9th December at about 6:00pm.

My first impressions of Porto by Katie Harwood
I have been excited for my Erasmus year since I decided to study languages at university. So when the time for me to leave the UK and embark on the biggest adventure of my life so far, I couldn’t wait to jump on the plane with my one-way ticket. Having spent my summers living in Spain for the past few years, I wasn’t too afraid to leave behind my friends and family, and couldn’t wait for what everyone tells me will be ‘the best year of my life’! The scariest thing was the possibility of my time here not living up to my expectations, but after a week living in Porto, I knew that these six months would be unforgettable.

‘Pottering around Porto!’

The overwhelming feeling that I felt during my first few days in Porto were exactly that: overwhelming. It was completely different to my expectations in pretty much every single way, and was not quite the ‘Portuguese Bristol’ that I had in mind. I have to admit that the first 24 hours that I spent in the city were clouded by dread about how I would live in this city for the next six months. It didn’t help that the day we arrived in Porto was cold and rainy; lacking the usual lively bustle of the city. However, with each day that I spent getting to know the city, I liked it more, and by the time that my parents left after a week, I had completely fallen in love with my new home.
The first few days of my trip were spent trawling the internet for rooms to rent, and calling endless phone numbers. With my very basic level of Portuguese, I struggled to communicate with landlords; in one situation I had to deal with one who got increasingly annoyed as I didn’t understand what he said, while he was incapable of speaking slowly or rewording anything that he said to me! I can confirm that raising your voice while repeating the same thing to someone trying to understand a foreign language doesn’t help!! Aside from this, I have surprised myself by managing to communicate fairly well in Portuguese. While I have accepted the fact that lectures in Portuguese will always be a struggle, I am happy to say that I speak and understand as much as I need in my day to day life here.

Celebrating having found somewhere to live!

Once the huge task of finding a place to live was over, we were able to relax and explore the city, and get all of the typical touristy things done before real life began.  Although, I think if I asked my Mum, I highly doubt that she would use ‘relaxing’ as an adjective to describe her trip in Porto! We walked so much, only using the metro once, other than to get to and from the airport. Instead, we walked from Trindade (where we were staying) to every part of the city. And due to some navigation issues, we definitely walked much further than we had to. While my Dad insisted on the reliability of the old-fashioned paper map, I trusted Google maps to take us everywhere (which it did, until my phone ran out of battery...) We even walked all the way from Matasinhos to Trindade; although the second half of the walk was more staggered than walked after downing a whole jug of wine on our lunch break!

Jardim do Palácio do Cristal – My favourite view of Porto
However, the real highlight of my first week was undoubtedly the magical evening that I spent at the Ribeira, which was the night that I met the people who would later develop into my ‘Erasmus family’. While it began as an afternoon city tour, I couldn’t believe it when I saw that it was past 5am, and I had spent over 12 hours with people that I had only just met. I will always remember this night as the one that truly started my Erasmus year.  
The spectacular Dom Luis 1 Bridge at night  

So, after just seven days, I had checked off my biggest goals: finding accommodation, meeting friends, and communicating successfully in Portuguese: what a week! I can’t wait to see what the next six months will have in store for me…

My stay in Porto: A summary
My time in Porto is coming to and end and I’m full of emotion about it. Sadness because I will miss so many things about my life over the past five months. I will miss my wonderful international friendship group that I’ve shared amazing memories with. I will miss the city of Porto itself; the colourful buildings, the warm orange sunsets, the stunning views of the river and the way that it just breathes life. But I also feel very positive, knowing that I’ve made some amazing memories and achieved so much during my time here. I’ve grown a lot since I arrived in September, both academically and personally, and I can honestly say that my time in Porto has completely exceeded my expectations.

The first and most expected achievement that I have made during my time in Porto is the improvement in my Portuguese. When I arrived in Porto I was just about able to communicate in Portuguese without too much difficulty, after having studied the language for 2 years. However, I wasn’t prepared for the variation in the way that people would speak, as I was only used to hearing my teacher speak to the class. After the first week of lectures I honestly felt that I would spend the semester not understanding anything that was said in class, but luckily this wasn’t true (except for one teacher who couldn’t even be understood by the Portuguese students... so I accepted defeat in this case). After attending classes every week for five months, it was inevitable that my level would improve. And I loved the sense of satisfaction I got when my teachers told me how pleased they were with my progress in the language. They were clearly happy that I made the effort to learn their language; this was something I noticed a lot during my time in Portugal, and it really allowed me to connect with people, in a way that I wouldn’t have been able to if I wasn’t learning the language.

On a more personal level, one difference that I have seen in myself is my increased confidence. As a shy teenager, I have spent the last few years building up my confidence, but it has never been higher than it is right now, and I attribute this to living abroad. Moving away from friends and family and having to adapt to a completely new culture forced me to be brave. This included going to the first Erasmus event alone, and leaving with about 15 friends, and going to a surfing class, which developed into a hobby during my time in Porto.  By approaching new people and making myself do everything that I was invited to, I was able to make great friends, and feel at home, despite being far away from it. It turns out that there were so many people just like me, who were alone in a new city, and this allowed me to build unique and strong friendships. So, I can honestly say that I never felt the loneliness and homesickness that I feared before
I arrived in Porto, and I have spent the five months blissfully happy.

Another positive aspect of my time in Porto was the ability to travel and explore new places. My friends and I took advantage of the Friday bank holidays in Porto in December and travelled to Vigo and Santiago de Compostela in Spain, and Braga in Northern Portugal.

Visiting Santiago de Compostela

Compared to the usual busy and stress filled term that university in Bristol brings me, this term has been filled with fun travels (with just enough studying to get good grades.) I feel content that I have made the most of all the advantages of having a semester abroad; while I’ve succeeded in the primary of passing my modules and improving my Portuguese, I’ve tried new things, met new people, and above all, had the best five months of my life.


The projects are designed to improve International knowledge and understanding as well as to assist and promote specific Portuguese related projects for both groups and individuals.
Our NatWest Education Award fund supported a special Portugal Day held at Cleve House School in Knowle for Year 5/6 pupils. This gave schoolchildren an opportunity to find out more about Portuguese culture, language, food and art (tiles).  It is hoped to find a school in Porto to make penfriend and email links.
A Foundation grant award was given to a Bristol University student who is currently studying at Porto University during the autumn semester.  The student will send us reports and a Blog about her stay.
The Foundation has recently given a grant to support a person from Porto to take part in the photographic event 24 hours in Bristol.  It has been a good opportunity for this young man to improve his photographic skills, widen his horizons and as well undertake a BBC Radio interview.
The Foundation is giving a grant to assist with costs incurred by a Bedminster Scout Group making a lantern incorporating a special Portuguese inspired design.  This will be part of a local Christmas Lantern Parade in Bedminster.      
Photo: BBC Radio Bristol – 24hrs in Bristol photographic participants Miguel Machado Rocha & Sarah Dimond Vale with presenter Ali Vowles.  Miguel’s visit was supported by the Bristol Oporto Foundation
Some of the excellent photos from the competion my be seen here.

This year, 2017, we have paid £300 toward the NatWest award for Cleve House School for a Portugal project with year 5/6 pupils and a £350 grant for Katie Harwood, a Bristol University Student studying in Porto from September.
New grants have also been approved for Miguel Machado Rocha for his participation in "24 Hours in Bristol". the photography competition held in Bristol. Also, £300 is to be given to a Bedminster school/Scout group taking part in a Christmas Lantern Parade.

Past donations and continuing fundraising efforts have enabled us to make small grants to help encourage and stimulate interest in links with Oporto and Portugal.  We consider this a vital part of our twinning role.
A Foundation grant supported a visit by a theatre group from Oporto some years ago who gave a public performance and workshops.  This certainly raised the bar and has since encouraged several projects by both groups and individuals in drama, musical, art and photographic projects.  
Community Choirs, Cathedral choirs as well as the black cloaked Oporto University TUNA students well known for ‘singing for their supper’ have taken part in musical events.
The NatWest Education Award scheme has meant we are able to continue to offer schools grants to take part in projects connected to Portugal and our twin city.  Schoolchildren who may not otherwise have had such an opportunity have benefitted greatly and it has provided memorable experiences for all those involved.

The latest grant to be given by the Bristol-Oporto Foundation was to João Sousa, an engineering student. He seemed to have had a very pleasant and profitable stay - he even wrote a report of what happened:

A Portuguese perspective on Britain and British people
In my first trip to Britain, I found an ancient country with a vast amount of amazing attractions to offer to its tourists. I also found a special nation with various curious customs. First of all, I would like to emphasize the extreme politeness, respect and courtesy of British people. There is a slight exception to this behaviour, that will be addressed later. While working, everyone is really professional and focused on doing their best. For instance, in the Bristol Language Centre, the language school I attended for two weeks, both the teachers and the staff were not only approachable and friendly but they were also available to promptly help the students in whatever they need. Other services, like public transports, are extremely organized and effective. Definitely, British punctuality is not a myth. I caught at least two buses per day and they were always on time! When the traffic was calm, the bus stopped for a short period of time in order not to arrive earlier at the next bus stop. In the beginning I didn't understand why this happened and I found it awkward, but after I realized why it makes absolutely sense! By the way, in the first days I went crazy due to the left hand traffic, especially at roundabouts and zebra crossings, where I didn't know in which direction I should look. Every time I took a glance at a child inside a car on the left front seat, I was shocked "A child driving?". But then I remembered I was in Britain, so the driver is on the right front seat and I calmed down.
Regarding the weather in Britain, it is known worldwide that it isn't good. Even in summer, at least from my experience, the rain is always there. Although the frequent showers, the British people, who were always equipped with waterproof clothes, kept doing their daily life routine as usual, as if there wasn't any rain.
When there is a sunny day, everyone had lunch in one of the several city parks, which is definitely a pleasant experience. In fact, this city parks culture is uncommon in Portugal and I found it amazing. Whether it's a student or someone in a suit, it's certain they will get the most out of the sunny day! Either way, at lunchtime, they lay on the grass and enjoy their meal. This brings to mind one of the most-talked about topics regarding the British culture: the food, that it is perceived worldwide as bad. To be honest, I can't disagree with this opinion. At least from what I noticed, British food is a bit plain and most of the meals involve fried food, such as chips, that I ate in most of the meals. Besides the dish "fish and chips", eating fish is uncommon, which is something strange for a Portuguese. Nevertheless, there is a wide range of international restaurants, ranging from Italian to Chinese food.
One of the most interesting facts about British people is their "new" behaviour on Friday and Saturday evenings. After leaving the work on Friday, it is common to go to a pub and drink some beers while catching up with friends. I consider this a very healthy practice. The problem relies on the amount of beers they drink. After two or three hours, it is easy to identify the effect of the alcohol and, gradually, the courtesy and politeness start to go away. This is the exception I mentioned before. Anyway, going to a pub to drink a couple of beers while listening to live music is an amazing experience and something typical from Britain!
Last but not least, I found the country a bit divided by a current affair that involves everyone: the "Brexit". Although the referendum was in June, it is still one of the main topics of conversation. I often listened to people discussing it in public places and we also talked about it in classes. I tried to hear as many opinions as possible so that I could understand their perspective. The thought on this matter is related to a broader opinion on globalization and how countries should embrace this inevitable future reality or not. On the one hand, I found the younger generation were more open minded and wanted to embrace globalization, even though there might be negative consequences. Obviously, they wanted to remain in the EU. On the other hand, the older generation are afraid of open borders and claim "We want our country back", as a sign of preserving the old beliefs. They argue that the Great Britain is a powerful nationhood, with a strong economy and a remarkable history. Consequently, according to them, they don't want to follow "Brussels' orders". It's important to note that this correlation between age and opinion wasn't always true.
Sometimes, when talking to British people, it wasn't easy to understand some words due to the unique accent they have. But after a couple of days, I started to get used to it and I managed to have several discussion with the natives. It was an amazing experience getting to know the British culture. They are incredibly polite and also funny, mainly on Friday and Saturday evenings, when they are in high spirits! I am very grateful to have had this opportunity!

Ana was awarded a Foundation grant by Trustees to support her project doing unpaid social work with disadvantaged teenagers in Bristol.  Here is her story in her own words:
I arrived at Bristol on the 3rd of May to start a placement with Kids Company, under the Erasmus + program. I already had a room to stay in and had a warming welcome by my landlords who picked me up, at night, from the airport, filled my shelf on the fridge and prepared my room for a quiet start in this new city.
I started working on the 5th of May at The Island. I have a very vivid memory of the first day at work; of thinking how chaotic it seemed, with staff coming in and out and full of young people hanging around, laughing and talking loud. It was a, sometimes, hard path to find my way in the team, but soon I learnt to see behind the apparent chaos to find amazing people, from staff to young people, and an extraordinary work being developed. During three months I was a Key Worker and worked close with young people aged 16 to 24, helping them with their needs. During three months I liaised with other agencies, booked meetings, went to appointments, created relationships with the young people and felt accepted by them. Despite being a Social Worker I found it difficult to key work, to respect the young peoples’ timings, decisions and their own evolution whilst being there for them, always. Unfortunately, nothing does last forever and, due to financial problems, Kids Company entered receivership at the beginning of August. To confirm the importance of the work done by this charity, the Local Authority and Creative Youth Network joined forces to bring a softer closure to Kids Company and The Island ran for another month to find its end at 4th of September 2015. And with it also did my placement.
During these last few days I took care of everything to be able to legally work in the UK and I plan to stick around for a while longer. Bristol is a vibrant city, with beautiful views and people, a lot do and experience. Since I arrived I went on a lot of touristic tours and sightseeing, but also tried to experience life as a local and am proud to say that I am getting able to cope with four seasons changing throughout the day!
I have to thank Bristol Oporto Association, especially to Liz, not only for the financial support, but also for linking me with Kids Company. Despite the sudden ending of a placement primarily thought to end in October, I gathered a totally worthy 4 months' work and life experiences that I will not forget and the possibility of a new start in Bristol.                    

Ana Anselmo 14th of September, 2015      

Coming up in the New Year – we have a joint book launch project supported by a grant awarded by the Oporto Foundation.  The book is of poetry by Paul Hawkins of Bristol and by Bruno Neiva who lives in Porto.   We are pleased to support this venture and the local launch in Bristol should be on 26th March 2016 at Artworks in Stokes Croft. This will be confirmed nearer the time.

                                                  SPHIZA’s STREET ART depiction of Fernando Pessoa, famous Portuguese writer and poet, was seen recently on a large advertising banner used by Destination Bristol, Bristol’s tourism arm depicting Bristol attractions.

You may remember that in 2013 Sphiza had been awarded a grant by the Oporto Foundation to create a wall painting in North Street near the Tobacco Factory for the UPFest Street Art event. It is good to know it has been selected by Bristol Tourism to illustrate Bristol’s street art scene and that it lives on even though the original painting is no longer there. The works are painted over at the following year’s event.

Back to content