One City – building a City of Hope

It’s nearly a year to the day when Bristol, along with the rest of the UK, first went into a national lockdown. Although it’s been extremely hard on everyone, the determination from partners around the city to get us back to some form of normality, when it’s safe to do so, is as strong as ever. Personally, I’m incredibly proud of Bristol’s response to the crisis and hearing from people at the City Gathering today underlines just how much has and is still being done to keep us moving forward.

Our focus continues to be recovery from COVID-19, keeping our population safe and working hard to rebuild. But lots of the work already started, before the pandemic hit, must continue in order to keep us on track to where we want to be by 2050. There is a long way to go, with a lot for us all to do but I can already see change happening. It’s worth us taking the time to stop and acknowledge the successes so far and be hopeful for what comes next. These City Gatherings help us do that, we all come together to plan, to discuss, and also to showcase the things that make Bristol great.

In the five years since I became Mayor, we have had ten City Gatherings. The conversations around One City started back in 2016, helping to launch a number of great initiatives such as ‘Period Friendly Bristol’ which tackles period poverty, ‘Going for Gold’ which aims to make Bristol a sustainable food city, and ‘Looking after Bristol’ which saw us partner up with Bristol Live to find the city’s next 70 foster carers.

This, the first City Gathering of 2021, saw us publish the third iteration of the One City Plan. Year on year it continues to get sharper, more detailed, and able to bring a clearer and more targeted vision across that only a collaborative approach to delivery can achieve.

Today’s agenda included an update from Christina Gray, who looked back over the last year from a public health perspective, giving us all some sobering stats from 2020. We also heard from some frontline workers which helped us understand the challenges and successes over the last 12 months from their point of view. This input from Mohammed Elsharif who is a vaccine volunteer, Hannah Black who is a teacher from Oasis Academy New Oak, and Dr Hyunkee Kim, a GP from Eastville, was really informative, giving us some great perspectives and is something we can include again at future gatherings.

We also welcomed Paul Hassan from Locality, talking about the new program ‘Many Neighbourhoods, One City’ which will share stories from every ward in Bristol. And we listened to some of the actions and recommendations from our first Citizens’ Assembly as well as hearing direct feedback from one of the 60 Bristolians who was involved in the four sessions.

All of this set us up to officially launch the latest version of our One City Plan and hear what we have achieved together over the last year, as well as putting forward the updated priorities and goals for each Board for 2021:

Goal 1 – from the Children and Young People’s Board, chosen by the Youth Council

Tackle digital exclusion through coordinated citywide action across generations, and respond to the enormous challenges and severe impact of the pandemic on children and young people

Goal 2 – from the Health and Wellbeing Board, voted for at the City Gathering

Support community assets (such as community centres / groups) to reduce social isolation and improve mental wellbeing, focusing particularly on communities with mental health inequalities

Goal 3 – from the Environment Board, voted for at the City Gathering

Citywide activity launched to engage citizens on pathways to achieving Bristol’s 2030 climate and ecological goals, in lead up to the Conference of the Parties (COP)

Bristol One City started life as a hope and aspiration of what Bristol could be in the future and even after a few short years, we have an idea of what could be. So thank you to all the speakers and the 300+ attendees that came along today, and hopefully I will see you all at the next one later in the year.

To view the latest One City Plan please go to https://www.bristolonecity.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/BD13525-One-City-Plan-2021.pdf or to find out more about the One City Approach please contact the City Office at hello@bristolcityoffice.com