I want to start my Christmas and New Year message by saying a big thank you to everyone who has done their part to keep cases down and lift Bristolians’ spirits up.
2020 has been a challenge for so many people and Bristol has shown real solidarity in supporting those most in need. Hidden heroes have been hard at work across our city, working not for recognition but simply to help friends, neighbours, and strangers.
This year has undoubtedly been a difficult one; more difficult than has been seen for generations. One old proverb has felt more apt than ever: “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
In these tough times, suffering sadly abounds. But, amidst the darkness of loss, hardship, and sacrifice, moments of hope have shone through this year. Whether it’s the neighbour dropping round prescriptions for someone who’s isolating or shielding; the redeployed worker coordinating PPE deliveries; the hotelier opening their doors to put a roof over someone’s head; the local councillor filling up his campervan with items for the food bank; the carer looking after often isolated and vulnerable residents; or the business adapting to keep trading and keep staff on; or our football clubs delivering food parcels to vulnerable fans – Bristol’s perseverance and character has reached new heights in 2020.
Just as we must all follow the rules to keep each other safe, we must pull together – because collectively there is no ceiling to what we can achieve. At a time when we continue to restrict ourselves to protect our communities, we are reminded that Bristol’s kindness and compassion has been limitless. This year, more than ever, I have been proud to be Bristolian.
Bringing people together to tackle city challenges has never been more important. A case-in-point is how Bristol has come together as one city to feed children and vulnerable people. Thanks to the generosity of individual Bristolians, restaurateurs, community groups, and charities, we have worked hard to make sure that Bristolians do not go hungry.
Everyone has a part to play in rebuilding a better Bristol, a place where social and environmental justice go hand-in-hand. We are determined to build a city where talent and hard work determine where you end up – rather than who your parents are, where you were born, or what you sound like. City partners are helping towards an economic recovery which builds back better, rather than reconstructing old inequalities.
As we look forward to 2021, the future can hold much to be hopeful for – with our incredible NHS and other keyworkers already delivering a vaccine. Bristol has a renewed spirit of striving to help others, another shot in the arm in these troubled times.
We can start next year with real hope, if we continue to keep each other safe. Together we can build a better Bristol where nobody is left behind: a City of Hope.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy, New Year.