Bristol arts and cultural organisations set to get £1.4m funding boost

Councillor Asher Craig is pictured, smiling, with greenery in the background.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor for Children’s Services, Education, and Equalities, and Labour Councillor for
St George West ward.

The re-opening of the Bristol Beacon one week ago today was an amazing moment to reflect on and take pride in our city’s thriving creative sector. Bristol has always been an exciting hub for creative innovation and artistic expression, with a truly international reach.

Sadly, the spectre of the pandemic, and continuing austerity, still looms large over much of the arts and culture sector, with businesses and organisations still feeling the pinch as they continue to recover.

However, Bristol arts and cultural organisations are set to get a much needed boost from the council’s Cultural Investment Programme (CIP). With a fund of over £2.4 million dedicated to creative organisations both large and small, across three distinct funding streams (Imagination, Originators and Openness), the CIP is not merely an investment, it stands as a commitment from Bristol City Council to securing Bristol’s vibrant music and cultural scenes now, and in the future, through both funding and support.

The aims of the CIP 2023 to 2027 programme also aligns with our city’s key priorities around promoting diversity, inclusion and equality as referenced in the Bristol Council Cultural Strategy, the Corporate Strategy 2022-27 and the One City Plan. The organisations recommended for funding by an independent panel have all demonstrated that they are reaching into underrepresented areas; have embedded community partnerships, health, and wellbeing partners; and are investing into building a sustainable sector.

During this week’s Cabinet meeting, we stood by our commitment, by approving this further grant funding of over £1.4 million for two of the funding streams, giving even more organisations the opportunity to access this vital fiscal lifeline. Of the £1.4 million being allocated, 11 organisations were awarded Imagination grants totalling over £300,000, and a further 15 were awarded Openness grants totalling just over £1 million.

In this newest round of funding, we should be proud to see a positive shift towards the diversification of our grant recipients, with over 60 per cent of organisations recommended for both funding streams working with people from equality backgrounds. Bristol’s investment into these organisations over the next four years will offer new opportunities to communities who might otherwise miss out on grant-based funding rounds.

The Openness and Imagination funding streams have already played positive roles in supporting dozens of creative organisations across Bristol. One such group includes the Paraorchestra, an amazing organisation that not only works tirelessly to redefine the traditional orchestra through collaboration with disabled and non-disabled artists, but also shares their passion for music with the city, as those who saw their performance at the opening of the Bristol Beacon can attest to.

Local authorities up and down the country continue to face intense financial challenges, with councils struggling to support their cultural sectors at all, as they continue to grapple with the ongoing cost of operating crisis and a severe lack of central government funding support.

It’s in the face of these financial difficulties that I am proud that our city remains in steadfast support of the arts and understands the positive impact a healthy and sustainable arts and culture sector has on our communities. While remaining committed to diversifying this sector, providing opportunities for individuals and organisations that have continually lacked the necessary support to help them succeed. The CIP remains an essential component in ensuring that everyone can have access to, and benefit from the city’s successful arts and culture sector.

Have festive fun with Your Holiday Hub this winter

Councillor Asher Craig is pictured, smiling, with greenery in the background.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor for Children’s Services, Education, and Equalities, and Labour Councillor for
St George West ward.

Lots of us are looking forward to a break during the festive season but for young Bristolians looking for more fun and excitement during the school holidays, we see the return of Your Holiday Hub (YHH) this winter.

We have lots of fully funded activities for children and young people who receive benefits-related free school meals (FSM) to take part in. YHH is funded through the government’s Holiday Activity and Food (HAF) programme and it provides activities, food and socialising opportunities for children and young people who receive FSM in Bristol.

We have almost fifty providers across the city that run the winter sessions, working with us to make sure they meet the needs of everyone who attends. There are so many activities to choose from such as a variety of sports, gardening and yoga, cooking and drama, arts and crafts. 

This winter campaign follows on from nearly 20,000 Your Holiday Hub placements that were attended during the summer holidays, with approximately 3,000 visits to the website during that time.

To book onto any of the activities, you will need to contact the individual provider who will be able to confirm if you’re eligible. If you’re unsure, complete our contact form and someone will be in touch. If you have a child with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) or they have an education, health and care plan, please contact the organisers of each session where you can discuss your child’s individual needs and how they can best be supported on the day.

A group of children are pictured, smiling, running across a Multi Use Gaming Area.

Our YHH programme has always had a strong focus on food, it is an important part of the Bristol approach and we’ve heard some great feedback since the sessions started in 2021. One key project has been working with providers and families over the last few years to help communities increase their access to healthy and nutritious food.

The Children’s Kitchen is part of Feeding Bristol, a local charity focused on improving our food system so that it is fair and just for everyone who lives here. They provide support over all the holiday periods and their ‘hands-on’ food workshops take place during sessions with other providers to give lots of children and families an opportunity to taste and explore new ingredients. They also show different ways to grow produce, cook meals and reduce waste. The Children’s Kitchen also hands out a recipe booklet during each session for people to take away so they can try the recipe again at home. It is this innovative approach to food education that led to the team receiving a well-deserved HAF South West Regional Champions Award this year.

You can see the December sessions where the Children’s Kitchen will be working with Bricks Bristol and St Werburghs City Farm, as well as all other provider sessions, by going to the Your Holiday Hub website. You can search by age, location or activity to find all the sessions most suited to your children.

Your Holiday Hub makes the holidays a little easier for families, but we understand that there are many still struggling, especially at this time of year where costs can increase due to the festive season. Please visit our cost of living support webpage where you will find information about food services plus other advice on benefits and financial help, energy efficiency, employment as well as taking care of your mental health. Help and support is available all year round so do reach out if you need it.

A young person is pictured, smiling, eating food in front of a graffitied wall.

Update on Bristol’s Liveable Neighbourhoods

Councillor Donald Alexander is pictured, smiling, with trees and College Green in the background.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Don Alexander, Cabinet Member for transport and Labour Councillor for Avonmouth and Lawrence Weston Ward.

I’m writing to provide residents with an update on the East Bristol Liveable Neighbourhood pilot and introduce our second Liveable Neighbourhood trial, which officers are at the very earliest stages of planning.

An update on the East Bristol Liveable Neighbourhood project

People will be aware that we temporarily moved tenants from Barton House on Tuesday 14 November, following a survey which showed that if there was a fire, explosion or large impact then the structure of the building would be at risk. 

We are awaiting the results of an in-depth building survey so we can make a long-term decision about the future of Barton House and how this might impact the people who live there.

It was originally our plan to run a statutory Traffic Regulation Order consultation before Christmas, as part of the co-design approach, to get further feedback on the proposals.

However, while we – along with community groups, agencies, and volunteers in the area – continue to work to support Barton House residents through this difficult and unsettling time, we have pushed back consultation on the East Bristol Liveable Neighbourhood project until we have more clarity for a long-term decision on Barton House.

Barton House is in a key area within the Liveable Neighbourhood’s proposed boundary. Residents would be impacted by the proposals for trial measures on nearby streets, including two bus gates on Avonvale Road and Marsh Lane.

We appreciate that this will be disappointing to many of the residents and organisations who have suggested changes and improvements to the area, but we know that they will be understanding given these unique circumstances. In the meantime, we will continue to work with residents across east Bristol to finalise where to install around 10 new cycle hangars. More details on the cycle hangars will follow in the new year.

A graffitied wall on Church Road is pictured, with colourful cartoons and images.

South Bristol Liveable Neighbourhood: early work

While sharing this update, I also want to take this opportunity to let you know about our initial work for the South Bristol Liveable Neighbourhood pilot.

At the moment, we are in the evidence gathering phase and are collecting traffic, air quality and noise data, as well as analysing the ward profiles. This information will help us form initial proposals for wider discussion through plenty of local engagement, before local councillors make final decisions on the scope of the scheme. While our administration would not support the inclusion of Ashton Gate Stadium in the scheme area, we of course want to engage with the stadium and fans of its sports clubs to ensure the continued development of this world-class venue for entertainment and sport. This includes the new home that’s due to be built for the Bristol Flyers basketball team.

Early in 2024 we will begin our programme of engagement with key stakeholders, including local community leaders and organisations, to find out what issues and challenges their communities face. We will use this information, along with our local data, to co-develop early proposals to further collaborate and consult on.  We will also ask people who live in or travel through south Bristol for their views and ideas.

We will be keen to talk to residents across much of the BS3 area of south Bristol, including parts of Southville, Windmill Hill and Bedminster. This engagement will be crucial to confirming the area for potential interventions, which will only be finalised through collaboration with local stakeholders and community groups.

We will be working closely with local communities to co-create a network of safer and quieter streets to encourage people to walk, cycle, and wheel for shorter journeys; improve air quality; enhance the public realm and green spaces; and improve access to local high streets and culture.  

I look forward to updating you when we have more news to share. In the meantime, if you are interested in receiving news and updates about the South Bristol Liveable Neighbourhood pilot, please visit and sign up to receive news about the project as it progresses.  

To keep up to date with the East Bristol Liveable Neighbourhood pilot, you can sign up for project news at

For an overview of design and engagement principles of Bristol Liveable Neighbourhoods, check out our Liveable Neighbourhoods Handbook.

If you are a Barton House resident, you can find information on our dedicated Barton House web page.

Bedminster is pictured from above, with building and cranes above buildings and trees.

UK Disability History Month: Disabled Creatives in Bristol Museums

On a pink background, works of art are pictured in four separate slots.

UK Disability History Month takes place from 16 November to 16 December, with International Day of Disabled People taking place today. One of the aims of the month is to raise awareness of Disabled people in society and to advocate for disability equality.

Disabled people have intersecting identities with other characteristics that shape their lived experience. Some Disabled people are creatives whose work has been under-represented in museums throughout history and still is today. Representation matters; it changes people’s lives and can only benefit everyone – now and in the future. Cultural and creative spaces are a great place to celebrate diversity. Historically, museums and galleries will, of course, have displayed creations by Disabled people. However, their experience of being a Disabled creative and how this may have informed their work, is seldom-heard. Their stories often remain hidden. This exclusion not only deprives these individuals of opportunities, but also robs society of a richer, more diverse understanding of lived experiences.

Curating for Change, a project exploring museum collections for overlooked stories from Disabled people’s histories and creating events and exhibitions, seeks to uncover and celebrate these stories. Bristol Museums is one of the 20 museums involved in this project. Curatorial Fellow, Jo Barlow, and Curatorial Fellowship Assistant, Freya Purcell, have been busy finding, researching and celebrating disabled Bristolians throughout history.

This has resulted in the ‘Concealed/Reveal: Disabled, D/deaf and neurodivergent artists driving creativity’ exhibition running at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery until 24 April 2024.

Throughout the exhibition some of Bristol’s own artists and creatives are represented, including painters such as Anthony Rossiter or Bertram Hiles.

One of curatorial assistant Freya Purcell’s favourite figures from the exhibition started life 341 miles from Bristol but came to call the city his home. Standing at 8 feet 3.5 inches, Patrick Cotter O’Brien made a living in the 18th century as a performer. It was in Bristol that he was first recorded performing at the Full Moon tavern in Stokes Croft. Evidence suggests that while Cotter’s size brought him financial freedom, it also brought challenges within a society that often looked unkindly on physical differences. He avoided going out during the day, likely to avoid the unwelcome attention he often received. Like other noted people who were unusually short or tall at the time, he was afraid his body would be seized by scientists once he died. But in Bristol he found solace and friendship. Indeed, it was one such friend who saved the items the museum now displays in celebration of this canny showman. 

In addition to the exhibition and wider ranging work to discover and showcase creatives with disability in our collections and our city, Bristol Museums’ Learning team is developing teaching and learning resources that explore the work of creative practitioners from diverse backgrounds: Creative Bristol. The Learning team offers a wide range of workshops, resources and support to schools, colleges, and home educators both on site and online. Last year, they commissioned three films about Black Bristol Creatives, kickstarted by a donation from a Bristol resident who wanted to make a positive contribution to young black people being able to see themselves in creative careers.

Following on from this the Learning team has recently commissioned four more films to showcase underrepresented creative practitioners that celebrate the talent of neurodivergent and Disabled professional artists in Bristol today. 

These four short films will be available soon at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery and on Bristol Museums’ website. They feature a dancer, photographer, artist, and illustrator (tattooist), providing a small insight into the work of each practitioner, what motivates them, and what they gain from their craft.

The aim of these resources is to showcase the diversity of our creative city and show children and young people the wide range of creative activities taking place across Bristol. At a time when provision in schools in music, arts, and cultural programmes is increasingly limited, there is a fear that fewer young people will consider careers in the arts. We hope that these resources inspire children, young people and teachers to engage in more creative activities and broaden their ideas about possible career pathways. If young people are inspired by the success stories of a wide variety of artists and professionals, they are more likely to consider the arts as a viable and fulfilling career choice.

Including under-represented creative practitioners in our Learning resources, and highlighting the work and stories of Disabled, D/deaf and neurodivergent artists in the Revealed/Conceal exhibition, also means children and young people can explore the lived experience of disability, the diversity of disability and the accommodations that disability sometimes requires.

Everyone, including Disabled people, can participate in and contribute to the arts.

Taking a tour of the newly refurbished Redcliffe Bascule Bridge

Councillor Don Alexander is pictured, smiling, with trees and College Green in the background.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Don Alexander, Cabinet Member for transport and Labour Councillor for Avonmouth and Lawrence Weston Ward.

I recently visited Redcliffe Bascule Bridge on Bristol’s floating harbour to find out more about all we’ve done to refurbish it and to see the repairs up close.

To look at the bridge in its normal state, when it’s lowered, it looks like a simple construction over the harbour from Redcliffe Way to Welsh Back. However, when the section that lifts up (known as the bascule span) goes into the upright position, that is when you realise there are complicated mechanics at work.

Built in 1942, the bridge needs to open to let larger boats in and out of Welsh Back, a wharf alongside the floating harbour. The last time any significant repairs took place to the bridge was in 1996 but, since then, the deck anchoring and lifting system had deteriorated to the point that it had become noisy under the heavy traffic flow. We needed to solve that issue, and bring it up to modern standards.  

The project was designed by Jacobs Consultants UK between late 2018 and 2020, mainly concentrating on structural problems and upgrading the mechanical and electrical elements of the bridge.

Redcliffe Bascule Bridge is picture with new paint.

Cleveland Bridge UK originally started the repairs back in January 2021. However, they went into administration in July 2021 so we needed to find a new contractor who could hit the ground running. Griffiths, the council’s maintenance contractor, took on the project and the refurbishment work started back up again in June 2022.

Griffiths brought in Fairfield Control Systems to upgrade and replace various electrical components that control the bridge’s critical functions and surroundings, and Fairfield Engineering Solutions to focus on refurbishing the crucial mechanical elements essential to the bridge’s structural integrity.

Glyn Evans, Project Manager for Bristol City Council, and Mike Clark, Site Agent for Griffiths, took me on a behind-the-scenes tour to find out more about the bridge and its refurbishment, which was fascinating.

I got to see the workings of the lifting mechanism, which all goes on out of sight in the bascule electrical distribution centre.

The tour also took in the main plant room, which houses the new high-tech electrical control systems and the bascule cabin, which is where the bridge is operated by our harbour staff.

The lifting mechanism room of Redcliffe Bascule Bridge is pictured, happening out of the bascule electrical distribution centre.
Redcliffe Bascule Bridge's main plant room, housing the new high-tech electrical control systems and the bascule cabin, which is where the bridge is operated by our harbour staff.

What the works involved

The scope of work covered a range of critical components, including:

  • steelwork and concrete repairs
  • electrical works to upgrade and replace vital parts 
  • mechanical works
  • waterproofing the deck of the bridge, replacing joints, and surfacing and paving works
  • painting the structure
  • installing CCTV, fire and intruder alarms and lighting

One of the big issues was the sound of larger vehicles crossing the bridge. The clamping system, at the end of the deck that is raised into the air when the bridge lifts, had become worn over time and allowed the bridge to ‘flap’ under the load of traffic, albeit by a few millimetres, but sufficient to create a loud clank from every passing heavy vehicle. Happily, this has been resolved by creating a new nose bolt for the bridge, which keeps the decking securely in place. It means we’ve been able to improve the road surface, reducing noise for locals and creating better journeys for everyone who crosses the bridge.

I am delighted to say the refurbishment works are now complete and Redcliffe Bascule Bridge reopened to all users in August 2023.

Since then, we had an issue with the south pinion bearing, which is a geared cog bearing that drives the span of the bridge upwards. It was not in the original scope of the project, but it had deteriorated over the course of the works through lack of use. After a thorough assessment and some quick problem solving, our team successfully resolved the issue, illustrating their dedication to finding cost effective and practical solutions.

Councillor Don Alexander is pictured looking at the lifting mechanism room of Redcliffe Bascule Bridge.

Final steps

The final commissioning phase, when we will do our last tests on the lifting mechanism and train our harbour team to use the updated equipment, is all that remains left to do.

We are hoping to carry this out in February 2024 to avoid the busy run up to Christmas. It will mean we may need to close the bridge for a short period of time to all users. Signage will go up on the road and we’ll divert everyone over Bristol Bridge, if that’s the case. 

Thank you

Many thanks to everyone who has been involved in this project – it is a huge feat of engineering work. Your dedication and expertise has made sure that Redcliffe Bascule Bridge will stand strong for generations to come. I would also like to thank everyone, from road users to nearby residents and businesses, for your patience throughout the refurbishment works needed to future-proof the bridge and bring it back into full working order.

The old control systems for the Redcliffe  Bascule Bridge.
Old hinges are pictured from the Redcliffe Bascule Bridge.

Bristol Beacon reopens after major investment

Last night, Councillor Craig Cheney, Deputy Mayor for City Economy, Finance, and Performance, reopened the Bristol Beacon after major investment, particularly from Bristol City Council. His speech can be found below.

Last week, I joined Craig; Councillor Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor for Children’s Services, Education, and Equalities; and Louise Mitchell, CEO of the Bristol Beacon/Bristol Music Trust, to unveil a plaque ahead of a soft opening.

“I just want to start by saying that I am so proud to be here this evening. As an 11 year old boy I came to see Gary Numan here, my first ever gig and it stoked a love of live music in me that continues to this day. 

“I want to say a massive thank you to the teams of people who made this possible.  Louise for her vision and drive and all the Bristol Music Trust team, all the project and programme managers, planners and other staff at the council who supported this development, the architects, acoustician and the other technical experts responsible for much of what you see. And finally to the amazing work of Wilmott Dixon in delivering on that vision and those technical requirements.

Photo credit: Giulia Spadafora

“Unlike Gary Numan I won’t be singing or whipping out a synth but I do want to blow my own trumpet a little and recognise what a long and difficult journey we have all been on to get here.  

“Not only was the building in bad shape, but we uncovered things like Elizabethan wells and Victorian ranges, we had to overcome Brexit supply issues, a global pandemic and the resulting tough economic headwinds. 

“In the face of opposition, cynicism, and budget pressures, we’ve stayed the course and delivered for Bristol. The Council, the Trust and the project took criticism at times, but I hope you can agree as we stand here now that by remaining determined throughout all of that we made the right decision; an international standard venue, here in the centre of Bristol.  A building in which people will laugh and cry and be carried away by music. 

Photo credit: Paul Blakemore

“And, as a Bristolian, it’s amazing to think that this building has been providing entertainment for Bristolians for a 150 years, and that we have just put it on a path for the next 150.

“By making this investment, and by changing the name, we have made it a physical place for all of Bristol to enjoy, use and be proud of.

“Of course, this is hasn’t just been an investment in this building. This in an investment into the ecosystem of the Bristol music scene, an investment in Bristol’s talent, an investment in Bristol’s diversity, an investment in a city which over the years has seen us produce huge global acts and world class musicians. 

Photo credit: Colin Moody

“Punching well above our own weight. (I should insert a joke about the boxing being held here in the past but…)

“I’m excited to think that the next big thing from Bristol could start their journey in the studios below, perform in the Lantern and end up selling out the main hall.  And whilst no one but the artists can take the credit for that, we can say that we played a part by creating this. 

“An exciting evening, more to come and so it just remains for me to thank you for being here and I hope you enjoy the evening.”

Photo credit: Giulia Spadafora

Marking World AIDS Day 2023

Aled Osborne is pictured.
Today’s guest blog is from Aled Osborne, Community Engagement Manager at Brigstowe

The Government has published its HIV Action Plan, laying out their plan to end new HIV diagnoses by 2030. That’s just over 6 years from now.

I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that this is impossible and that those of us in the HIV sector are dreaming.  However, we do have all the tools that we need to end HIV transmissions. Today, on World AIDS Day, we are standing up for those impacted by HIV, past and present, and calling for a better future.

Let Communities Lead

Communities which are on the front line, need to lead the HIV response. Communities use person-centred approaches to connect people with public health services, build trust, innovate, and hold providers accountable. Community organisations know their communities best and if we are truly going to reach everyone, leaving no-one behind, we must invest.

Communities are being held back. Funding shortages, policy and regulatory hurdles, capacity constraints, and crackdowns on civil society and marginalised communities’ human rights are obstructing the progress of HIV prevention and treatment services.

Organisations and their communities need to be central in all HIV plans and programmes. They need to be adequately and reliably funded to enable the required scale up and all existing and future barriers need to be removed.


  • Nothing about us without us.
  • Not ending HIV is more expensive than ending it.
  • Remove laws that harm; create laws that empower.
  • Communities are and always have been leading World AIDS Day.
Team members of Brigstowe are pictured holding signs and wearing pink

Common Ambition Bristol

Common Ambition Bristol (CAB) is a co-produced project bringing together people of African and Caribbean heritage and professionals working in partnership to:

  • Increase HIV testing
  • Reduce HIV stigma
  • Reduce HIV late diagnosis
  • Increase uptake of sexual health services

Community members are integral to CAB.  They have been involved in the design and delivery from the very beginning and throughout the project. THE most important part of CAB has been sharing power and building trust with community members.

Community outreach includes partnership with over 30 black owned or black frequented businesses, having conversations, providing free condoms, and holding events. We have also opened the only two walk in sexual health clinics for people of African & Caribbean heritage in the South West. They happen on the first Thursday of every month at Montpelier Health Centre and the last Thursday of every month at Charlotte Keel Medical Practice. The clinics are free and confidential and offer full sexual health screening, free condoms or PrEP (pre exposure prophylaxis) initiation.  This is one way Bristol is letting communities lead.  Involving communities in the design and delivery of services needs to be adopted and spread across all underserved communities.

Bristol's City Hall is pictured lit up red for World AIDS Day 2023.

Opt-Out Testing in A&E

After years of work going into the 2020 HIV Commission report and 18 months of a very successful pilot, we are now able to say with pride that the Government has confirmed expansion of opt-out testing in Emergency Departments to cover all areas of high prevalence. This will be a year long programme led by the National Institute for Health Research. For Bristol, this means opt-out testing will be carried out at the BRI and Weston General Hospital.

In the first year, 569 people have been diagnosed with HIV and even more with Hepatitis B and C.

This also means that more people will be diagnosed with HIV faster, and will be able to access lifesaving treatment which will also stop the virus being passed on. With HIV diagnoses rising among women, and over half of new diagnoses in the city being diagnosed late we warmly welcome this announcement.

If we are serious about achieving the 2030 target of no new HIV diagnoses it is vital we do not miss any opportunity to test and engage people into HIV care.

Starting or reinitiating these individuals on treatment means they cannot pass HIV onto sexual partners. Undetectable = Untransmittable. People living with HIV on effective medication have ZERO risk of transmission.

We thank Marvin for his continued support in lobbying the Government to roll this out.

Get Involved

If you or someone you know is living with or affected by HIV, or you would like further information please take a look at our website: Brigstowe or call us on 0117 955 5038.

Wear your red ribbon with pride. Come along to our annual World AIDS Day Celebration event on Saturday 2nd December from 6pm at the Watershed:

The World AIDS Day flag is pictured flying outside Bristol's City hall.

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 2023

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 2022
Councillor Ellie King is pictured, smiling, stood on the ramp of Bristol's city hall.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Ellie King, Cabinet for Public Health and Communities and Labour councillor for Hillfields ward.

While the festive period brings many opportunities to celebrate, the additional pressures and increased alcohol consumption can make this time of year increasingly difficult for those at risk of gender-based violence. 25 November marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls, and the beginning of the UN’s 16 days of action against gender-based violence.  

Worldwide, six women are killed by a man every hour, and in the UK, a domestic abuse call is made to the police every 30 seconds. This is an incredibly alarming statistic to wrap your head around.

 Gender based violence can come in many forms including:

  • domestic abuse
  • sexual violence
  • abuse and rape
  • coercive control (an act or pattern of controlling, threatening or humiliating behaviour).
  • stalking and harassment
  • trafficking
  • forced prostitution
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • intimidation at work, education or in public
  • ‘honour’ crimes.              

Bristol’s City Hall was lit up orange on 25 November, in honour of the International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls and will be again today, (30 November) to mark Next Link’s candlelit vigil to highlight the number of women and children affected by Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence.

I am proud of our commitment to making Bristol a zero-tolerance city for gender-based violence, where survivors are supported, and perpetrators of violence are held to account. This work can be seen in the Mayoral Commission on Domestic Abuse, which details our recommendations for a violence-free city, and our commitments to supporting women across the city, no matter who they are.

I am also proud of our involvement with the Bristol Women’s Commission, which has dedicated groups to address issues faced by women and girls, such as education, women’s health, and the economy. Organisations like these help women to feel protected and safe in Bristol.

At Bristol City Council, we support employers to develop domestic abuse policies, and spot signs of abuse to protect their staff. We will always promote our zero-tolerance policy for all types of abuse and encourage local businesses and media outlets to challenge abusive behaviours and support survivors.

We have also signed up to achieve the Domestic Abuse and Housing Alliance accreditation, which will help our housing officers identify and respond to domestic abuse earlier, and more efficiently so that all families can be safe and have housing security.

As well as this, our manifesto commitment to increase the priority of Domestic Violence survivors in the HomeChoice system has been delivered. This means that women who have been victims of Domestic Violence will be classed as an urgent housing priority when allocating social housing.

Dedicated Services

In Bristol we provide additional specialist services and support through the Next Link Plus partnership, understanding the need for tailored services working ‘by-and-for’ survivors in a partnership that recognises everyone has their own unique experience of discrimination and oppression.

Next Link Plus has trained specialists that are able to support women in abusive and violent situations. They have specialists supporting those who have experienced ‘honour’ abuse, have dedicated safe houses for survivors from minoritised communities, such as South Asian, Black, those with disabilities and those from the LGBTQ+ community.

They also work in partnership with other organisations across Bristol to provide the best possible care, such as St. Mungo’s to support those sleeping rough or homeless, Sign Health for those who are deaf or have hearing difficulties, and Nilaari for therapy.

A person is pictured holding a candle at a vigil on International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
Vigil on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 2022

The Drive Project

In June this year, the Home Office Domestic Abuse Perpetrator Intervention Fund awarded £1,230,500 to the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC), the police, and councils throughout the southwest to implement the Drive initiative. The Drive project exists to challenge the behaviour of high-risk domestic abuse perpetrators, reducing the risk of violent behaviours and offering further protection to victims.

The Safer Streets Project

We have also been given funding from the Home Office to fund our Safer Streets project. This has been run in Manor Farm, Portland Square and most recently across South Bristol. The funding has gone towards more street lighting, more CCTV, and increased community activities, which has made our streets safer and more secure for women.

Bristol Nights

Feeling safe at night is important. Bristol Nights is committed to making women feel safe at night, and to reducing the anxiety and fear that socialising at night can induce.

97% of women in Bristol have experienced sexual harassment. The Women’s Safety Charter aims to improve the safety and security of women at night. This campaign has now been running for over a year, and businesses all over Bristol have been trained to protect their staff, and the public from possible violence.

This year, we have made great progress in supporting victims of domestic violence and commit to making further progress in our Bristol Domestic Abuse Safe Accommodation Strategy and working with more women and children to support them through violence and abuse.

Getting help

If you or someone you know is or has been affected by domestic abuse, you can access support via:

  • Next Link Plus service: 0800 4700 280
  • National Domestic Violence Helpline: 0808 2000 247
  • Always call 999 in an emergency

Bristol’s Council Tax Reduction Scheme

Councillor Craig Cheney is pictured, smiling.
This guest blog is from Councillor Craig Cheney, Deputy Mayor for City Economy,
Finance, and Performance, and Labour Councillor for Hillfields.

When I was growing up in Bristol, my family was supported by Council Tax Benefit. It was a real lifeline for us.

Since 2016, our Labour administration has protected our Council Tax Reduction Scheme, which replaced the benefit and is one of the last full schemes in the country. This means that up to 100% of a household’s council tax bill can be paid for through the scheme, with 75% of eligible low-income households currently having their bills paid in full.

We have been proud to provide over £325 million of support to families across Bristol since taking office. This achievement has been without the support of other parties locally, and despite more than a decade of national government austerity.

Our Council, like local authorities across the country, including Nottingham, continues to face a challenging financial position after thirteen years of national government austerity. With rising costs and rising demands for services, this has meant – and will continue to mean – difficult choices. And the Chancellor’s recent Autumn Statement only added further pressure, with councils having to wait until Christmas for the Local Government Finance Settlement.

In February, Full Council approved a £3 million saving from the Council Tax Reduction scheme for the upcoming financial year. The Council has since consulted on a number of potential options to deliver that saving, while asking people who want to keep the scheme in its current form to suggest how to do that while balancing the budget.

Opposition councillors did not suggest alternative savings at Full Council, and have not been forthcoming since then in suggesting alternative budget savings. Ultimately, if councillors choose not to have a balanced budget, commissioners appointed by the Tory government will do it for us – with the Council Tax Reduction Scheme, along with the frontline services we’ve protected, first on the chopping block.

While the consultation results show that the majority of respondent would support changes to the scheme, now is not the time. Today, we will publish a paper to come to cabinet next week, recommending that our Council Tax Reduction Scheme continues in its current form.

This is of course welcome news for families, but it does mean that next year’s budget requires another £3 million of savings. There are no easy decisions left, no efficiencies to make, and no fat to trim.

More difficult decisions lie ahead. They cannot be ducked.

It will be incumbent on all councillors to come together and pick from the least-bad options left to balance Bristol’s budget for an eighth consecutive year, including an alternative £3 million of savings with our Council Tax Reduction Scheme staying in place for 2024/25.

Bristol has everything you need for the festive season

Cllr Craig Cheney is pictured, smiling, in a dark suit against a white background.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Craig Cheney, Deputy Mayor for City Economy, Finance, and Performance and Labour Councillor for Hillfields ward.

Bristol’s high streets are diverse and independent centres of retail, entertainment and culture. With Christmas fast approaching, and Small Business Saturday taking place this weekend, now is the perfect time to explore them and find some of the hidden gems on your doorstep. With 47 high streets across our city, there are plenty of places to discover and uncover what’s on offer.

High street businesses have been hard hit over the last few years due to the pandemic and the ongoing national cost of living crisis, so it is encouraging to see the latest figures showing an increase in visitor numbers across many areas of our city over the last year. The continued support of residents is needed to build stronger, resilient independent businesses that are supported by their own communities.

Shop local, support your community

Corn Street is pictured, with Market Stalls present on either side of the road and people walking down the middle.

Shopping local is also a great way to shop more sustainably and ethically without needing to jump in the car or buy from giant corporate organisations.

For inspiration, the Where’s it to? Bristol campaign celebrates some of the brilliant businesses on Bristol’s high streets and the diversity that’s on offer. With over 400 traders featured on the website you can quickly see what’s in your local area.

Bristol Shopping Quarter sits in the heart of our city. Central to Broadmead, The Galleries, The Arcade, Cabot Circus and Quakers Friars you’ll find well-known brands and an abundance of independent retailers, cafes and restaurants to chose from.

Visit Bristol provide information on a wide range of businesses, days out and shopping destinations to suit every need, including restaurants, bars, tea rooms and delis.

The traditional indoor market at St Nick’s Market is now open every day until Christmas Eve. Inside the Covered Market, Glass Arcade and Exchange Hall, the market houses 60 stalls selling a range of gifts, including fashion, accessories, books, records and food.

The Christmas themed outdoor markets are a family friendly place to discover handmade crafts and enjoy delicious street food. Open every day from Monday 11 December until Christmas Eve.

Taking place this weekend, Small Business Saturday is a grassroots non-commercial campaign, which highlights small business success and encourages consumers to support small businesses in their communities by shopping locally. Many independent businesses take an active role in promoting the day by hosting events and offering promotions. Shoppers can click on the Small Business Finder to search for local businesses taking part.

If you’re not sure what gift to give this year, the Love Bristol Gift Card is a great way to help support local businesses. The gift card is aimed at encouraging local spend in Bristol’s city centre and can be used at over 160 retailers, from independents to well-known brands, including shops, hotels, and restaurants.

Ways to be more sustainable

Church Road is pictured, with shops lining the left side of the road. Trees and cars are pictured to the centre right of the image.
Church Road

Sparks Bristol offers a shopping experience and creative workshops with a difference. Step into Sparks and shop local to put your hard-earned money back into your community and support Bristol’s independent businesses, artists and makers.

For those looking to repair items, rather than buy new, Sparks offer a range of services to help you repair damaged clothes, electricals, bikes and more, to give your well-loved items a new lease of life and help save you money. Dr Bike drop-in sessions are also available where a mechanic will be on hand to carry out bike maintenance checks, free of charge, helping you get your bike ready for winter.

Bristol’s Repair Cafés were set up to help reduce the environmental impact of repairable items being thrown away. Running throughout the year, repair cafés have been set up across Bristol, where you can bring items in to be repaired. Staffed by volunteers like Nobby and Jim, the repairs are free, but donations are appreciated to help keep the venues running.

For those looking for good condition reconditioned items, Bristol Waste run three reuse shops from their Avonmouth, Hartcliffe Way and St Philips recycling centres. The shops sell a wide range of reused products, from furniture and electrical products to DIY materials and bric-a-brac.

Christmas and the festive period can be an expensive time for many, and the rising cost of living is affecting everybody in the city in different ways. Our Cost of Living hub looks to support the people most impacted, including those who have not faced financial challenge before. The hub provides advice and guidance on topics including housing, help with fuel bills, benefits and associated financial help, employment and skills, mental health and wellbeing, and provides links to useful websites and community organisations.

Small Business Saturday's logo is pictured, with white text on a blue background reading: Small Business Saturday 2nd December