Bristol’s City Gathering: working as One City

Think about the organisations and institutions you interact with in just one day while living or working in Bristol. What influence do they have over your life and choices?

Ines Lage, is pictured speaking at Bristol's City Gathering.
Ines Lage, South West Regional Secretary of
the TUC, speaking at Bristol’s City Gathering

Bristol, like any city, is a complex system of people and institutions, working together or in isolation – sometimes in opposition. Institutions and organisations focus on their own operations and services, their workforce and their goals, no matter if they employ 10,000 people or two, and consequently the awareness of other organisations can be minimal. This can result in repetition of effort and wasted time undertaking projects already explored by others, or unnecessary costs to organisations already challenged with rapidly changing policies and circumstances.  

The One City Plan, first launched in 2019, mapped the strategic intent of many of Bristol’s institutions and organisations in Bristol to showcase the opportunities for synergy, bring others into the fold, and minimise duplication. Structured around six themes that represent the sectors in our city, the One City approach connects the different elements of the city system. It also presents priorities that partners can work together on to create a positive impact for citizens, as well as better outcomes for their own operations. This approach seeks to build on positive action and show that, despite the complexity of the system, we are all part of One City and can combine efforts in perhaps unexpected ways to build a better Bristol benefit. 

Mayor Marvin Rees, is pictured speaking at Bristol's City Gathering event.
Mayor Marvin Rees speaking at Bristol’s City Gathering

Twice a year, we host a City Gathering which provides partners with the opportunity to meet, have conversations, and present Offers and Asks to the city. On Friday, partners from key institutions such as the hospital trusts and universities met with community groups and voluntary, community, and social enterprise organisations, learning about Bristol through multiple lenses.

These events are a great opportunity to recognise the reach and impact in the room – in the city – and the ability to have positive impacts on life here. Through these meetings, we started to map activity by partners and see the spaces that will benefit from collaboration and sharing of experience.

Throughout the pandemic, the Gatherings moved online for safety, and, while they were well-attended and effective, nothing beats the impact of hosting around 300 people in City Hall, where every attendee is passionate about their work in the city and keen to work in partnership. During this time we had success tackling period poverty across the city and on digital exclusion that restricts residents’ access to opportunities. Alongside this, the Homes and Communities Board have had great progress with Goal 23 and housing associations and Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance accreditation.

Eugine Yafele, Chief Executive of University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust, is pictured speaking at Bristol's City Gathering.
Eugine Yafele speaking at Bristol’s City Gathering

The City Gathering held on 10 March was no exception, with excellent chairing from Eugine Yafele of UHBW NHS Trust and 30 speakers from across all sectors in the city system. The overall theme was ‘Bristol: What Is Happening Right Now?’

Attendees were given the opportunity to put faces and names to organisations, while hearing about the current key challenges and opportunities in Bristol. There were presentations on the Integrated Care Board, financing the decarbonisation of our city, and moves towards the Committee System. The day provided a great chance to meet and discuss new opportunities with partners they across all the One City themes. We’ve put everyone’s Offers and Asks online – if you want to know more or contribute, email us:

Bristol continues to go from strength to strength, together as One City.