This blog comes from Warren, a member of the Bristol Citizens’ Assembly which last week shared its recommendations. You can take a look at their interim report, recommendations, the speaker presentations and other information on the citizens’ assembly website.
Thanks to all the assembly members who took part in this process. Their recommendations will now be considered by Cabinet members, relevant teams within the council and by the One City Boards, with a report to be published following the local elections in May.
Our world came to a gradual halt early in 2020 with the arrival of COVID19. I think many people came to realise that we cannot collectively go on living as we have. Bristol soon became an eerily quiet place, with most of us forced to stay at home, no longer able to live in the manner we would like to. We certainly enjoyed bluer skies and newly encroaching wildlife amongst other things, but many suffered from isolation and separation from friends and family, including me. In some cases we suffered ill health and tragedy. We have had to reappraise our lives and we know that collectively we have to act differently going forward.
This was the backdrop to my volunteering to join Bristol’s Citizens Assembly and address the question ‘How do we recover from COVID19 and create a better future for all in Bristol?’. I view my city as a dynamic and progressive place and wanted to make my small contribution to its future, and I was happy to learn that I had been selected.
I have spent four weekends with 60 other Bristol Citizens looking at the issues facing us all in Bristol. We were all selected from diverse backgrounds to ensure fair representation from this multi-faceted city. It was not easy but I felt everyone was committed to this process.
Although I am not a fan of zoom meetings, this complex logistical task was smoothly handled by Involve and a team from the council. Initially we were addressed by Mayor Marvin Rees and Councillors Asher Craig and Paula O’Rourke. I was impressed by their commitment to this process and their depth of knowledge and concern for our collective future.
We face great challenges around issues such as climate change, mental health and poverty, among others. At times it was troubling to hear the evidence presented to us by the many experts who came before us, but there were also positives and it was encouraging to hear that Bristol Council is already acting in each of these areas.
On the final day of the assembly we all came together to review our recommendations. I was moved by their depth and quality and I think it would be fair to say that everyone felt this way. There are great challenges ahead but I think we can rise to them and make Bristol an even better place for everyone.