Today, some 300 representatives from all corners of the city came together for the latest City Gathering. Bristolians listened, networked, and shared insights into our recovery and looked at how we will build a stronger future. Although held virtually again, everyone was keen to engage and look at how we can make plans into reality.
We started the event by focusing on how we can come together as one city, to benefit the many different parts of our society. Daniel White from The Robins Foundation and Adam Tutton from Bristol Rovers Community Trust led the way by being our first speakers, explaining how the two clubs have played a key role in bringing people together through sport.
With the help of speakers from Avon and Somerset Police and BrunelCare as well as one of the new COVID marshals, we also heard about life on the front line touching upon some the issues they have experienced during the last six to eight months. Dan Edozie from the Bristol Flyers joined us to speak about turning adversity around to make opportunities for change and emphasised the need to protect our young people, especially during periods of crisis.
While it is only right that we focused heavily on our challenges this year, it’s also important to look back and see how far we have come. This is why we wanted to showcase examples of the positive work that’s happening across Bristol. Organisations like Feeding Bristol are helping both in the provision of food to communities and supporting local food groups to overcome blockages in the system. Coupled with Bristol Bites Back and Going for Gold, Bristol’s city-wide initiative to be one of the UK’s first gold sustainable food cities, we are making great strides in the city’s food response.
Bristol actor Joe Sims captured everyone’s imagination with his passion for doing good in the city and the importance of talking about positive work rather than focusing on the negative. The passion he showed for his 500 Reasons initiative – where individuals donate small regular amounts each week to collectively make a £500 donation to local causes – was was one of the highlights of the day.
Martin Bisp and Jamie Sanigar emphasised the importance of recognising the systemic issues of inequality in the city from their perspective at Empire Fighting Chance. Other speakers highlighted the impact of ongoing issues such as domestic abuse, gender inequality, mental health, unemployment, the role of young people and older people within our city amongst others.
As our special guest this time, we were honoured to welcome Dame Martina Milburn, Group Chief Executive at The Prince’s Trust. Speaking about supporting people at this critical time, Dame Martina illustrated some of the areas that we, as a country, need to be focusing our energies on. From jobs, education and training, we need to engage with our young people to give them hope for their future prospects and work with our partners at a local level to make it all happen.
Today’s gathering was truly encouraging, giving a sense of optimism despite the 2020 we have had. We have all shown a resilience that is testament to our collaborative way of working and one which should hopefully see us through these tough times and beyond.
Lastly, a special mention goes to Guy Orpen, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University, who is stepping down from his role in December. Thank you to Guy all the hard work he has done for Bristol and we all hope he has a wonderful retirement.
I also want to thank everyone else for attending and wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
If you would like to be involved in next City Gathering or you just want to find out a little more about the One City approach, please contact the City Office.