Bristolians have had a year of real loss. Children have lost education; families have lost livelihoods; many people, particularly women, have lost a sense of home as a safe place; and, ultimately, tragically, we have lost loved ones.
Recovering as a city means processing all of our losses as individuals, families, communities, and, together, as one city. This cannot be done alone, Bristolians must continue to pull together.
A proverb that has been important to me since my childhood feels more apt than ever: “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” No-one welcomes suffering, but there is an ancient wisdom that says it can be the place we discover our resilience and all that comes with that. Bristolians have – together – persevered.
Moving from suffering to perseverance was not, and is not, guaranteed. People need support. Without that suffering can lead to deterioration. But in Bristol we have stepped up: neighbours dropping round prescriptions; redeployed workers sorting PPE deliveries; hoteliers opening their doors to the homeless; councillors and football clubs delivering food to residents; and carers looking after those who need them most.
In this we have discovered or been reminded of a city character we can be proud of.
We need to continue to support one another – to be kind, and gracious, as we persevere together, so that these moments shine ever brighter as we continue to build a City of Hope.