Hot Coffee, Hot Topic with the Warmer Homes Advice and Money project

Today’s blog comes from Hannah Spungin, Programme Manager for the Operations team in Bristol City Council’s Energy Service.

This morning, we partnered with the Mayor and colleagues in Public Health to put on a Hot Coffee, Hot Topic session. The event promoted the Warmer Homes Advice and Money (WHAM) service and explored how we can support residents on low-incomes living in cold homes.

Working Collaboratively

We know that living in fuel poverty can have an impact on mental health as individuals stress about high fuel bills and the ‘heat or eat’ dilemma. By partnering with Lynn Stanley, Senior Public Health Specialist in Public Health and the Thrive Bristol program, we hope to link fuel poverty initiatives with an opportunity to improve mental and physical health in Bristol.

Since publishing the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) chapter on Fuel Poverty in December 2018, the Energy Service have also been working collaboratively with colleagues across the city to implement the chapter’s recommendations and tackle fuel poverty. The expansion of the Warmer Homes Advice and Money (WHAM) project is an example of a step we have taken to increase collaboration and create a single-point-of-contact service to better support those in fuel poverty.

WHAM is a multi-agency partnership between the Centre for Sustainable Energy, Talking Money, WE Care Home Improvements, Citizens Advice, Bristol Energy Network and North Somerset Council, funded by Bristol City Council. The organisation’s caseworkers provide advice on energy and finance (i.e. income maximisation and budgeting), while arranging for the installation of energy efficiency measures.

Next Steps

Our next steps include developing an action plan for reducing fuel poverty. Alongside a commitment to make Bristol a carbon-neutral city, the One City Plan includes the target that nobody in Bristol suffers from a cold home because of fuel poverty and/or the absence of insulation and heating by 2030.

Utilising the One City approach, the action plan will be governed by the Health and Wellbeing Board, with input from the Homes & Communities and Environment boards. The action plan will be produced by the No Cold Homes steering group, which is a collection of organisations in the city who take an active role in helping to alleviate fuel poverty. We will be hosting an event in early November as an opportunity to bring together agencies from across the city, to determine potential actions to be included in the plan to be published in early 2020.

This morning’s session included heart-warming discussions of clients who benefitted from support through WHAM and conclusions that more joined-up conversations regarding fuel poverty and poverty, in general, need to be had. As we’re steadily approaching the winter season, we are keen to get the conversations started and actions in place. If you are interested in finding out more or being part of the conversation, please contact Hannah Spungin at . hannah.spungin@bristol.gov.ukThis morning’s session included heart-warming discussions of clients who benefitted from support through WHAM and conclusions that more joined-up conversations regarding fuel poverty and poverty, in general, need to be had. As we’re steadily approaching the winter season, we are keen to get the conversations started and actions in place. If you are interested in finding out more or being part of the conversation, please contact Hannah Spungin at Hannah.Spungin@bristol.gov.uk .

Zero Waste Week

Today’s guest blog comes from from Cllr Steve Pearce, Cabinet Member for Waste, Commercialisation and Regulatory Services.

Did you know that this week is Zero Waste Week?

Since 2008 Zero Waste Week has helped individuals, businesses, schools, universities and community groups reduce their landfill waste, save money and preserve resources.

At a time when we are all becoming more aware of waste and our own environmental responsibilities the movement has mushroomed. It began with 100 participants and it has reached over 56 million people just 10 years later. This national award-winning campaign has even been recognized by former Prime Minister Theresa May (who of course was famous for recycling her EU withdrawal bill multiple times). You can join the mailing list to find out more about how it can help us all as individuals, at work or as we engage through schools or community groups.

Bristol has led the way on this issue, with the best recycling rate of any of the English Core Cities. Award winning initiatives such as the ‘Slim my Waste’ campaign have captured the public’s imagination, and led to a direct increase in food waste being recycled.

But we know we can do more, and Zero Waste Week is a great opportunity to highlight our own responsibilities as individuals and as organisations.  It can be a challenge to engage our residents with their recycling and it is sometimes a struggle to create a buzz. So we also need to produce tangible, solid results through education, investment and improved services as we strive to lead the conversation.

This is why we have invested in a new efficient, sustainable, safer and reliable fleet of recycling vehicles for Bristol Waste. They will help drive recycling rates while reducing other environmental impacts.

As we transform the Avonmouth “tip” into a Household Reuse and Recycling Centre it shows how we have to change the mind-set to one of the potential of our ‘waste’ as a ‘resource’. The improved site will include a reuse shop, selling pre-loved items from the waste stream. (Please check the website for the changes in opening hours while the upgrade takes place).

And of course the Hartcliffe Way Household Reuse and Recycling Centre is moving forward. This will deliver our pledge to make it easier for people in the South of the city to dispose and recycle household waste in an easier, more accessible and environmentally sustainable way.

Zero Waste Week’s mission is to empower us all to think again about what we call ‘rubbish’ and think of it instead as the valuable resource it really is. They encourage us all to make those small changes that can lead to more sustainable consumption patterns. They educate so that we can easily and effectively reduce landfill, save money and participate in the circular economy – in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

As individual householders, if there are things in your bin that you don’t know how to eliminate, or if your Zero Waste lifestyle is causing stress, threatens to overwhelm you or causes you to feel guilty, you can join the programme and contact the Zero Waste team for 1-2-1 coaching.

Bristol and Brexit

I am dismayed and angered that Government has moved to shut down Parliament in order to push through its Brexit plans – potentially taking us into a No Deal future. Bristolians are represented in Parliament by four MPs who have now had their voices, and by extension our voices, silenced.

This sits in a wider failure. Over the last three plus years, Governments have failed to engage with political leaders outside of Westminster as to what was needed from any negotiations. People are always shocked when I share that during his two years as Brexit Secretary, David Davis did not once come to discuss Brexit with the Core Cities, which represent some 19 million people in their greater areas and around a quarter of the national economy.

What has fermented is a Brexit crafted in the dark backrooms of Whitehall and corridors of Westminster, with no reference to the rest of the UK – regardless of how places and people voted in 2016. But it is local councils like ours who are putting in place the emergency plans. It will be left to the local authorities to pick up the pieces if the UK leaves the EU with No Deal, as Keir Starmer (Labour’s shadow Brexit Secretary) and I saw first-hand when we visited companies and citizens in Bristol last week and heard their concerns.

It has been frustrating hear of the huge sums of money spent on failed ferry contracts and “tally ho” publicity campaigns  – money that we could have invested in mental health, house building, and low carbon transport solutions. At the same time local government has continued to have austerity imposed upon us, resulting in a the loss of government funding of 60p in every pound since 2010.

The entire bandwidth of Government has been consumed by Brexit, with all that bluster seemingly doing nothing to stop the slide towards No Deal – which Parliament has already ruled out. At the same time the Climate Emergency, housing crisis, and migration crisis have meant  local government has needed an engaged Government that is visionary and leading rather than reactionary and pandering with slogans rather than solutions.

It’s is a false promise that 31 October will draw this to a close. If we leave with a No Deal we will face the costly and all-consuming task of rebuilding an architecture to cover trade, migration, defense and alliances, and, of course, how to protect peace in Northern Ireland.

What we really need is for the Brexit debate to leave Westminster and come to the cities, putting local government at the forefront of planning. In the coming days, I will be further working together with other party leaders from Bristol.

Bristol’s bid to become a Gold Sustainable Food City by 2020

Today’s guest blog is from the Deputy Mayor, Cllr Asher Craig, who is responsible for communities, equalities and public health

As one of only four cities in the UK to achieve a Silver award, Bristol is now making a bold bid for Gold standard, aiming to become a Sustainable Food City (SFC) by the end of 2020. ‘Going for Gold’ involves a city-wide effort to make lasting improvements to the way we grow, buy and eat food in Bristol.

Our Going for Gold (G4G) bid will establish Bristol as both a national and an international leader in sustainable food. We want the whole city to rally together and take action – with citizens, organisations and policy makers all working together to reach Gold.

There is a collective energy calling for food that’s good for people, our planet and our city to be made available to everyone in Bristol, and because it matters to our health, our economy, our resilience, our environment and to our children’s future. In a city where 24% of children are living in income deprived households, we must tackle this challenge.

The food system is responsible for some 30-40% of global greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to eating less meat, reducing food waste is ranked as the third most effective action to address global warming.

We also know that around two billion people across the world lack access to nutritious and healthy food. Food systems all over the world have fostered ultra-processed food (fast food), and people choose these because they are cheap. But they are not nutritious or healthy.

Cities have become an important agent for change, and for the first time 54% of the world’s population lives in cities, with this expected to rise to 70% by 2050.

Concerns over post-Brexit food costs and security of supply suggest that re-localising our system will help us to secure the livelihoods of food producers, as well as increasing the UK’s future resilience. We need to find local solutions to global challenges.

To help us accelerate our G4G ambitions, I will be exploring opportunities to collaborate with the newly opened World Sustainable Urban Food Centre of Valencia (CEMAS), for which I had the honour of representing Bristol, at their opening ceremony held in the Spanish city, last month.

Valencia is the new international hub for best practice in food sustainability systems and is dedicated to managing and sharing the knowledge, to help guide other cities – like Bristol – towards successful, sustainable food systems.

Cities all over the world are now attempting to develop food strategies and take action – Bristol is already recognised for its positive work, and now G4G will help further the city’s reputation, with its citizens reaping the benefits.

To gain Gold SFC status, we need to take collective action in six key food action areas:

  • Buy better;
  • Eat better;
  • Reduce food waste;
  • Grow more nature-friendly food in the city;
  • Support the food community;
  • Promote food equality.

Working together, we can create measurable and sustainable change to the city’s food system by targeting these six key areas.

As part of the bid for Gold, we also need to demonstrate that we are a national exemplar in two food action areas. We have chosen Reducing Food Waste and Catering Procurement (how we source and purchase food and catering contracts).

We are aiming to become a Zero Food Waste City by reducing and recycling our food waste and improving our catering and procurement processes through increased uptake of recognised procurement accreditations, as well as buying more from local food producers.

We want big and lasting changes to our food system in Bristol, ones that will make a positive difference to our communities, our environment and our workplaces. Visit our interactive Going for Gold website https://www.goingforgoldbristol.co.uk/ where you can log your food actions and help Bristol Go for Gold!

Telling the truth on the Hostile Environment

The Government’s ‘Hostile Environment’ policy, designed to co-opt public services and others into immigration enforcement, has been controversial from the moment it was announced in 2012. I have been one of many people to publicly oppose the policy. I have done so on a local, national and international level, pointing out the ways it demonises people without immigration status whilst also punishing those with the right to live in the UK such as the Windrush Generation.

So you can imagine my surprise when I read in the Bristol Cable that Bristol City Council was apparently refusing to join with other Local Authorities in taking a stand against the Hostile Environment as manifested in the Rough Sleeping Support Service. The article claims that unlike 11 other Councils, Bristol is “participating in the programme”, which is “using homelessness charities to pass rough sleepers’ personal information directly to the Home Office without their consent”.

Sadly for the Bristol Cable, but happily for Bristol’s rough sleepers, this claim is wildly, and wilfully, inaccurate. Before publication of the article, Bristol City Council were asked for a statement on their relationship to the programme. That statement, in full, read:

“Bristol City Council has not made referrals to the Rough Sleeping Support Service (RSSS) and would only work with them in order for people to be housed more quickly by reducing delays in obtaining settled status.

“The council’s view is that referrals should only take place after an individual has firstly received legal advice from a registered OISC (Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner) and has given their informed consent.

“Non UK citizens who are sleeping rough can spend months or years waiting to hear back from the Home Office in order to resolve their status and we are continuing to work with a range of local and national partners, including central government and our commissioned partner St Mungo’s, to find ways of supporting people to move off the streets regardless of their migration status.’’

How does this compare to the 11 Councils who are lauded for taking a stand against the scheme? Helpfully the Cable article provides a link to a Guardian story on this, which explains that “It is understood that 11 councils, including Brent, Croydon, Enfield, Islington, Hackney, Haringey, Lambeth, Liverpool, Newham, Oxford and Rugby, will not share the personal data unless explicit consent has been given.”

So the thing that marks out these 11 Councils in their opposition to the programme is a commitment that they will not share any personal data unless explicit consent has been given. As the BCC full statement says, that is exactly the position in Bristol. In fact, BCC’s position is even stronger, with the additional provision that a referral should only happen after an individual has received proper legal advice.

But rather than report the truth, that Bristol City Council are in fact leading the way on opposing the Hostile Environment, the Bristol Cable journalist Adam Cantwell-Corn decided to selectively quote from the Council statement, leaving out the critical sentence about requiring informed consent. He then supplemented this with some hostile quotes from an opposition politician, and ‘hey presto’ – news.

The hostile environment is one of the most damaging public policies of our time. It is therefore critical that people are properly informed about it, and are able to direct their rightful indignation about its impacts on the poorest and most vulnerable at those who are truly responsible. By misquoting the Council in order to falsely damn it, Adam Cantwell-Corn has done everyone a disservice. He has misinformed the people of Bristol about a critical issue in our society. He has eroded trust in the Council and its efforts to support rough sleepers off the streets. And by directing anger away from the Home Office and the Government, he has left those impacted by the Hostile Environment further away from the solution they need and deserve.

p.s At time of writing, Adam Cantwell-Corn is claiming that because the Council statement said that referrals “should only take place” with informed consent, this marks them out against the 11 other Councils. Such pedantry hardly merits a response. He has also criticised the Council for not making a public statement, despite the fact that I have blogged here within the last month about the need for a ‘complete rethinking’ of the Hostile Environment.

One-Year Review of the Children’s Charter

Today’s blog marks the one year anniversary of the Children’s Charter and comes from Tanisha Gupta, an intern at the Mayor’s Office from Yale University, who has been supporting the development of the Charter for the last nine weeks.

Today marks a special anniversary for our city because we are celebrating one year since the launch of the Bristol Children’s Charter. Since that bright, blissful Bristol Playday on College Green last year when the charter was first announced, the city of Bristol has united to prioritise the rights and needs of all of its children and young people.

The Bristol Children’s Charter is an unabashedly aspirational commitment to our city’s future. We want each child to have the resources and opportunities necessary to make a positive impact in this world. That means we need to ensure each child’s basic rights are met. We are committed to ending child poverty and hunger, and are ambitiously working to ensure children live healthy lives with high-quality nutrition, access to wellbeing facilities and services, and safety from all forms of violence and abuse. We aim to provide children with access to clean and safe homes and neighbourhoods in a city with sustainable, affordable and connected infrastructure, that allows them to benefit from Bristol being a leading cultural, social and sporting city. We pledge all children will have access to a quality education that develops their potential so they have skills for life and for decent, productive work.

But we want to do more than just provide children and young people with basic necessities. In fact, we must do more if we truly want to set them up for success. That is why we pledge to guarantee children have the skills to thrive in an ever-changing digital world and have the opportunity to learn about and participate in the global community. It is why we ensure children have the opportunity to influence leaders and contribute to the city they live in, and in return ensure the city supports not only children but parents, carers and families as well. And that is why we make these pledges to all children and young people, regardless of their ethnicity, gender, religion, language, abilities, or any other characteristic, so as to protect and provide for the most vulnerable people to reduce the inequalities that exist.

In the past year, we have made significant progress towards achieving our goals. We have had a five-fold increase in the number of organisations signing on to the Children’s Charter; currently, 100 organisations from education, sport, housing, the voluntary sector, social care, childcare, health, environment, nutrition, public safety, law, and business sectors have committed to the pledges of the charter. More organisations are expected to sign on in the coming months.

We have also passed policies in Bristol City Council relating to children and young people’s education, homelessness, safety, health and wellbeing and special education needs and disability (SEND) provisions to guarantee we are making progress towards delivering our goals. Many other policies relavent to the charter are being considered as I write. 

We have hosted two successful Children’s Charter events, established our presence on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and launched this blog as our main channel for information on the charter and our work. Thanks to all of this work done by the city to prioritise children and young people, the Local Government Association (LGA) Labour Group named the Bristol Children’s Charter as the first innovation in its list of “100 More Innovations by Labour in Power”.

So what’s next? We have just gotten started; while we made respectable progress this past year, there is plenty that we still need to do.

We must continue to strive to make our city’s future better than its present, and to do so we must continue to listen to and provide for our young people. At the heart of this work lies the distinct recognition that local government alone cannot accomplish the hefty feats put forth in the Children’s Charter; the city as a whole must come together to work towards a brighter future.

For this reason, on our one-year anniversary we are launching an “Offers and Asks” section to facilitate communication between signatories and encourage broader cooperation on charter pledges. Each signatory of the Bristol Children’s Charter joins a larger consortium of organisations in the city that are working together to prioritise the rights and best interests of all children and young people. Our new “Offers and Asks” page will enable you all to reach out to each other for advice and help, share best practices, and collaborate on campaigns and events in the future.

On a more personal note, the one-year anniversary of the Children’s Charter brings to close an important chapter in my life, as my internship in the Mayor’s Office is finishing tomorrow. For the past few months, I have lived and breathed the Bristol Children’s Charter, devoting my time to working for children and young people in the city. I am in awe of the palpable passion of the charter’s signatories and salute this city’s ability to unite people together for a greater cause. Though I am not a native Bristolian myself, I at times feel more connected to this magnificent city than I do to my own.

So this one-year anniversary celebration is a collective one; I thank each and every one of you for the role you have played in getting the charter to where it is today, and the role you will play in supporting the charter in the future. This is just the beginning, and I look forward to the development of the Bristol Children’s Charter going forward.

We Take Care of Our Own – How a City Rallied Around a Trafficked Teenager

There’s nothing like a crisis to test the character of an individual, group or place. And it’s hard to imagine a bigger crisis than being told that you’re going to have to leave pretty much everything and everyone you love, just as you’re trying to prepare for the biggest exams of your life.

That was the situation facing Stiven Bregu when he received a letter from the Home Office shortly before his 18th birthday telling him that he was facing deportation from the UK. Stiven’s story was already full of upheaval. Born in Albania, his mother handed him over, aged 13, to people traffickers to escape an abusive situation at home. At the end of an arduous journey through Europe, he was dumped by the side of the road in the middle of the night in a town on the outskirts of Bristol. Speaking just enough English to find his way to a Police station, Stiven was eventually taken into foster care in the city.

What happened next is nothing short of remarkable. Mastering English in just six months, Stiven quickly settled into school and two years later performed so well in his GCSE results that the Bristol Post wrote a story about him. He was accepted onto the City Leadership Programme, set up to support high potential young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. And as he approached the end of his school career he won a prestigious apprenticeship offer with the Wealth Management firm Rowan Dartington.

Stiven’s future looked bright. Having been welcomed and supported in so many ways, he was looking forward to the opportunity to give back to the city he now called home. We can only imagine how he must have felt, just a week before his first A Level exam, when he was told that his application to remain in the UK had been turned down. The argument from the Home Office was that on becoming an adult, it was no longer ‘in the public interest’ for Stiven to be allowed to remain in the country.

In desperation, he turned to those who had supported him so far in his journey. His school, St Mary Redcliffe, started a public petition calling on the Government to allow him to stay. It went viral, attracting almost 100,000 signatures in just a month. When it came time for his appeal hearing, Stiven and his lawyer were joined by an extraordinary team of supporters. Travelling to Newport to speak in his defence were his Head of Year at school, his care worker, the Deputy Mayor of Bristol Asher Craig and the Executive Chairman of Rowan Dartington, Graham Coxell. Stiven’s lawyer said she thought the judge had probably never seen anything like it. Evidently this remarkable show of support paid off, for just 10 days later Stiven received news that his appeal had been successful and that he was to be given leave to remain in the country. “We won the appeal, so I’m definitely staying here. It’s absolutely amazing”, Stiven said. “I just want to say a big thank you to everyone”.

Stiven’s story is one of determination and success against the odds. But it’s not just a story about him. It’s also a powerful example of how a city can take in a vulnerable young person and nurture them. From his foster carers to his care workers, from his school leaders to the wealth management company – time and time again people in Bristol have gone above and beyond in standing up for Stiven and giving him the platform to succeed. When the news broke of the successful appeal, the Bristol Post’s headline said it all: “Victory for Bristol as Stiven wins his fight to stay”. At a time when hate crime has spiked in the UK and it feels like the nation is wrestling with its identity, the groundswell of support for a young boy from Eastern Europe has been a reminder of who we can be at our best.

Stiven’s ordeal has also provided a stark reminder of the madness of our asylum system. The timing of the Home Office decision to deport Stiven, coming just as he was preparing for his A Levels, is emblematic of the complete lack of humanity in the way immigration decisions are made. The decision itself, claiming that it was in the ‘public interest’ to send Stiven out of the country after years of investment in his education and care, is questionable on every possible level. The only saving grace is that the appeal judge was able to finally see sense and recognise Stiven for the asset that he is. Sadly, however, Stiven’s situation is one that is experienced by so many other young people who arrive in the UK as unaccompanied asylum seeking children, not all of whom end up with the powerful supporters that Stiven had.

So there are lessons to learn for everyone from the remarkable story of Stiven Bregu. The brokenness and inhumanity of an asylum system that’s not fit for purpose. The incredible resilience of a young man with a very bright future. And the character and welcome of a city that takes care of its own, wherever they might have been born.

Destination Bristol

Today’s guest blog is by John Hirst CEO of Visit Bristol where he explores tourism’s role in our great city.

Tourism is an essential part of Bristol, but I feel that sometime our city does not know just how important it is. The industry employs almost 30,000 people and contributes £1.3bn to our city and the surrounding region. Destination Bristol is a public/private sector partnership that works with a variety of organisations to build on this success.

We set out to attract more visitors to Bristol; encourage them to say for as long as possible and ensure they visit all of the region’s great attractions. Bristol has great potential to grow visitor numbers, and trends over recent years have been positive. Hopefully, this will continue as the city develops its international links and continues to promote itself as a friendly, creative and vibrant place.

Our website, www.visitbristol.co.uk, provides an ever-increasing collection of reasons why people visit our city. Central to this list are Bristol’s street art; the diversity of fabulous places to eat and a whole series of festivals that the city hosts throughout the summer.

These festivals are something for which Bristol is famous for. From St Paul’s Carnival and Pride to the Harbour Festival and Balloon Fiesta, the multitude of events happening across the city continues to attract visitors of all ages.

As we look to build on this success, we should welcome new visitor attractions such as Wild Place in late July and the new surf lake which is planned to open just before Christmas. This will be complemented by the Government’s recent announcement of the new Tourism Sector Deal which will raise the overall profile of tourism in the UK, and will hopefully have some direct benefits for Bristol over the coming years.

I look forward to encouraging more people who live in Bristol to develop a career in what is a fast-growing and rewarding sector. If you would like to know more about anything to do with a career in our industry or plans for the future of tourism, please do email me – john.hirst@destinationbristol.co.uk

Thank you, and do enjoy Bristol!

Keeping Bristol fed throughout the holidays

Our guest blog today comes from Maurice Di Rosso, project manager of Feeding Bristol and signatory of the Children’s Charter.

The start of the summer holiday is a joyous time for children and young people wanting a few weeks of care-free relaxation. However, for many children in Bristol, not attending school has an undesired consequence: they will no longer receive free school meals.

Nearly 11,000 children in Bristol are registered for free school meals, accounting for approximately 20% of all children. Through conversations with teachers and community organisations, we know that the actual number of children who struggle to access tasty and nutritious meals is higher and that this problem becomes more acute during the school holidays.

Feeding Bristol

Feeding Bristol is dedicated to driving systemic change to increase food security across all social and cultural communities in Bristol – ultimately striving for ‘Zero Hunger’. We’re aiming to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of immediate provision for those in need, as well as influence long-term local economic and national policy changes to deliver food security for all Bristolians. Over the last 18 months, children’s food needs have been a core focus of the work we have delivered.

Since registering as a charity in March 2018, Feeding Bristol has built its network of partners across the city to bring together everyone with similar aspirations. Our network includes people and organisations ranging from local restaurants, charities, retailers, manufacturers, social enterprises, academics, chefs, and government organisations. Through a diverse range of thinking, we will be able to work together in our efforts to effectively address the systemic factors that cause food insecurity.

FOOD Clubs

June 2019 saw the launch of two FOOD (‘Food on Our Doorstep’) Clubs in our Bristol Children Centres. In partnership with Family Action, BCC Early Years and FareShare South West, this membership-based model provides an affordable top-up of groceries every week. With refrigerators included, we can provide a very high-quality range of food to our members. While the parcels of food received by the members vary from week to week, the intention is to provide a top-up to their weekly groceries, not a complete replacement. Hence, for a £3.50 fee per week, members receive approximately £20 of fresh and high-quality food.

We will be launching more FOOD Clubs over the coming months across Bristol and would like to extend our thanks to all the partners for making this initiative happen. Keep an eye on the Feeding Bristol website for future details: www.feedingbristol.org.

Healthy Holidays

Having not received any funding from Central Government for the upcoming summer holidays, Feeding Bristol appealed to the city to help support these children and young people. Local businesses, Bristol City Council, and partner organisations have done an outstanding job coming together to help us deliver our ‘Healthy Holidays’ project. In partnership with FareShare South West and collaborating with approximately 150 providers of holiday clubs and other community-based activities for children, we aim to provide 50,000 nutritious and tasty meals to kids across the 6 week summer holiday.

Long-term goals

Feeding Bristol is continually focused on its mission to systemically drive food security in Bristol. We have four key strategic priorities:

  1. Improving targeted provision to support immediate needs with an initial focus on childhood hunger and other vulnerable groups.
  2. Increasing the local community’s enthusiasm, knowledge and capability to grow and cook food.
  3. Significantly increasing regional food production and the supply of good quality local food to the city within a sustainable economic framework.
  4. Lobbying and working with local and national government, influencing policy change to drive greater food security.

Based on these, we will be establishing ‘Working Groups’ to drive initiatives and work with existing community groups. There is a lot of fantastic work already occurring in Bristol – we hope to provide a platform that allows people and groups to come together to share and learn from one another, enabling continual growth across Bristol and furthering progress towards a zero-hunger city.

If you are interested in finding out more or being involved in the Bristol network, please contact us at info@feedingbristol.org.

Mayor’s Migration Council

Cities do not exist in a vacuum. While some of the challenges we face in Bristol are local issues within our control, many more are the products of wider national and international dysfunction. And so if we’re going to be serious about tackling them, we have to be prepared to get outside the city boundaries and engage with the wider world.

That’s what I’ve been doing this weekend at the first Leadership Board meeting of the Mayor’s Migration Council. The Mayor’s Migration Council is a new initiative to help cities become more influential at the international level on issues related to migration. The Leadership Board is made up of 12 Mayors from all over the world, who come together to help guide the work of the organisation. Sitting alongside my colleagues from Los Angeles, Sao Paolo, Kampala, Amman and elsewhere, it is striking how much we have in common. We are all aiming for the same thing – creating an inclusive city that values and unlocks the contribution of all of its residents. We are all facing many of the same practical challenges in making this vision a reality – affordable housing, access to education, issues with skills recognition and access to good quality work. And most of us are also facing the political challenge of a rising tide of nationalism and intolerance, with national-level demagogues trying to whip up fear of the other, with migrants and refugees bearing the brunt.

It has also been instructive to think through some of our different contexts, and how we can better work together to become more than the sum of our parts. For example, it can be easy to slip into a discussion which is all about being a ‘welcoming city’, with an assumption that our cities are migrant destinations, when for places like Freetown in Sierra Leone the challenge is about how to stop their young people from leaving. Some of our discussions this weekend have been about what it might look like for ‘sending cities’ to find common cause with ‘transit cities’ and ‘destination cities’ to advance our shared values and goals for migrants and host communities alike.

But the discussions have not just been about how cities can work with each other. We’ve also made good progress in planning for how cities can have a great impact on the international stage, particularly through the Global Compacts on Migration and Refugees. For these Compacts to come to life, city voices need to be at the table alongside national governments, bringing their expertise and providing a platform for a more effective use of resources than our current systems allow for. It’s particularly exciting to see these conversations advance beyond the progress we made at the Global Parliament of Mayors Summit in Bristol last October, which saw the first mass commitment by city leaders to enacting the Compacts at the local level.

We’ve also been thinking about how we can best work with our national governments and hold them to account for their responsibilities to migrants and refugees. In Bristol this means continued work on the Lift the Ban campaign to give asylum seekers the right to work, as well as continuing to call for a complete rethinking of the ‘Hostile Environment’ and the way it continues to drive so many innocent people into destitution and despair. Engaging at the international level gives us new avenues to pursue these issues and press for the UK to adopt a more humane and inclusive approach to immigration policy.

Initiatives like the Mayor’s Migration Council give me hope that we can make real progress on these and many more issues. By working alongside other cities from around the world, we can find new ways to increase our collective power on the world stage, and in doing so create tangible improvements for migrants, refugees and all of us here in Bristol.

*The Mayor of Bristol was invited to attend this event in New York by the Mayors Migration Council (MMC). All flights, accommodation and expenses have been covered by the MMC.