Author Archives: marvinjrees

Free travel offers for people in Bristol

Councillor Don Alexander is pictured, smiling, outside City Hall with College Green and trees in the background.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Don Alexander, Cabinet Member for Transport and Labour Councillor for Avonmouth and Lawrence Weston ward.

Walking, cycling, and active travel are great ways to incorporate physical activity in our daily lives. Just 20 minutes of exercise a day can be long enough to reap the rewards, helping to ease stress, reduce the risk of depression, and increase productivity. That could easily be achieved in a walk to the shops, a scoot to school, or a short cycle ride to the office.

I regularly travel into City Hall by walking and taking the bus or by hopping on an e-scooter, and I find it a great way to start a busy day.

We’re helping people in Bristol to travel more actively where they can and save money by giving out free travel offers. This includes free bike and e-bike loans, cycle training, bus and train taster vouchers, and car club credit. This is a great opportunity to try out new ways of travelling for free while looking after your wellbeing. The offers are open to anyone who lives or works in Bristol, so I would encourage people to give it a go and sign up today.

People in Bristol have already been benefitting from these offers and we’ve given out over 15,000 since the scheme launched last year. And it’s having a measurable impact; as part of the Big Bristol Travel Challenge the council ran with Sustrans in July, we recorded a total of 6,269 sustainable journeys. Of these, 2,988 were by walking and 1,718 were by cycling. In all, this change over the month saved 2,341Kg of Co2 emissions as well as people saving £3,575 in travel costs.

I’d love to see more of us making the most of the offers this summer to get around the city to enjoy the many exciting events that are taking place.

I know that it’s not always possible to leave the car at home, but it’s important to remember that together our small actions can make a big difference, not only to our own lives, but to the health of our environment and the people around us.

Air pollution affects everyone, after all. In Bristol, exposure to nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate matter were estimated to contribute to around 300 deaths a year, before the introduction of the Clean Air Zone. This is something that we must continue to work together to reduce and leaving the car at home just once a week can make a big difference. We can all do our bit to help keep Bristol’s air clean. 

Two people are pictured, smiling, holding bicycles on Bristol Harbour. The Harbour and M-Shed museum are seen in the background.

Swap four wheels for two

While many people feel comfortable getting around on two wheels, for others cycling can feel daunting for many reasons. Loss of confidence on a bike, not having the equipment, or perhaps having never had the chance to learn – we are offering support to help you overcome these challenges and give cycling a go.

As part of our free travel offers, you can get a free loan bike for up to a month to try out a bike before investing in one yourself. We have a range of different bikes available to try including standard cycles great for everyday use, e-bikes that give you an extra boost going up the hills, and folding bikes that are convenient for small spaces or commuting by train.

There’s something to suit every type of rider. Also available is free cycle training to help give you more confidence on a bike. Make the most of a guided ride to help you find the best cycle route for your daily commute or take part in a Bikeability skills course. Find out more about free support for cycling.

Using public transport

Using some of the many public transport options in Bristol might also be a good option for you. You can give the bus or train a go with taster vouchers, helping you explore some of your local stations and routes for free.

If you’re not sure what route is the best for you, take a look at the useful Travelwest Journey planner or sign up for a free one-to-one travel planning appointment with our specially trained Travel Advisors.

Two people are pictured standing at a bus stop, a blue double decker bus is pictured on the left of the image. The bus has an automated sign reading: Emerson's Green 48.

Car clubs

If you live or work in the city centre, joining a car club could be a great way to make those occasional trips when you really need a car.  With over 25 cars across the city centre, give it a go with some free car club credit.

And get set for Cycle September

With September not far off, I’d urge you to get involved in this annual celebration of cycling. Cycle September is a month-long national competition from Love to Ride, which aims to get people cycling more often. This is a fun competition with no pressure on you to compete; you can either log your rides on the Love to Ride website or download the app. You’ll accumulate points for each ride you do and can win a range of great prizes including a £4,000 holiday. We’ll be announcing more on how to get involved very soon.

Bristol residents can enjoy new playpark equipment and park improvements across the city

From Albany Green to Withywood Park, Bristol has almost 150 brilliant play areas, with a variety of facilities and play equipment for families to enjoy. Ten of these play areas have benefited from exciting refurbishments and improvements over the summer thanks to council investment. So, now is the perfect time to explore a new park.

Zipwire at Eastville Park

These improvements include brand new equipment such as zip lines, trim trails and large swings, rubberised safety surfacing, replacing older equipment and extending the dog-free play areas. Young people will also be impressed by the new multi-purpose basketball courts and football pitches. Some play areas have new seating and picnic areas for parents and carers, also giving children space to relax after all the excitement.

Many of these playparks have been designed through collaboration with the communities who use them, including the young people themselves. The designs reflect those who use Bristol’s playparks; requests for communal style picnic seating, accessible equipment and improved access highlight that playparks are for people of all abilities and age groups to meet, move and play.  

Outdoor play is vital for children’s physical, mental and emotional health and away from home, playgrounds are the most popular spaces for young people. We recognise that access to quality play is important for Bristol families. They provide a great chance for parents and carers to socialise and are a free way for children to engage in play; and learn valuable life skills.  

Councillor Ellie King, Cabinet Member for Communities and Public Health and Labour Councillor for Hillfields ward, has been out and about visiting some of these playparks to ‘test’ out the new equipment. The verdict was that the trimtrails are great fun (and good for the core muscles!), and it’s brilliant to see more accessible entrances and pathways opening up these areas to more children.  

So, with fingers crossed for suitable weather, which play area will you choose to explore with the family?  

Newly installed Trimtrails are pictured in Stoke park.
Stoke Park Trimtrail
  • Stoke Park Estate, Lockleaze – New wooden trim trail and exercise equipment off Romney Avenue.
  • Eastville Park Upper Play Area, Eastville – Addition of new swings, zip wire and junior/teen play equipment.      
New play area is pictured in Eastville park.
Eastville Park
  • Mina Road Park, St Werburghs- New MUGA with dual basketball hoops and football goals. A children’s play area is due to be refurbished from early September
  • Barton Hill Urban Park, Barton Hill – Renovation of existing play area, including extending dog free area and creating a new large kick-a-bout area, extensive new rubber play surfacing, three new multi-units for toddlers, juniors and teens; new trim trail unit, a new toddler basket swing and large new seating area with grouped picnic benches.
The new Multi Use Games Area in Mina Road park is pictured.
The newly refurbished play area in Barton Hill Urban Park is pictured.
Barton Hill Playpark and Mina Road park MUGA
  • Newtown Park/Hassell Drive Open Space, Lawrence Hill – Extended dog free area by fencing off large area of grass to extend play area, new larger entrance into play area and relandscaped area to play football. A large new play structure for juniors/teens is due to be installed in the autumn.                  
  • Clifton Suspension Bridge Play Area, Clifton – Extensive drainage works to existing play area and new accessible path installed.
  • Maskelyne Avenue Green Space, Horfield – New football goals and seating installed in the open space. New toddler slide to be installed in adjacent play area in autumn.
  • Dame Emily Play Area, Bedminster – Refurbishment of an existing climbing play unit, new surfacing under existing play equipment and a new zipwire.
  • Guants Ham Park, Barton Hill – New colourful safety surfacing under existing play equipment.
  • Lamplighters Open Space Play Area, Shirehampton – New large three swing unit installed
The newly refurbished paly at the Clifton Suspension Bridge play area is pictured.
Clifton Suspension Bridge play area

Playpark improvements have been secured through a mixture of fundraising by local park Friends groups, and funding as a result of local developments. As we continue to tackle the housing crisis and deliver historic numbers of new homes, this brings new investment into local areas through the Community Infrastructure Levy. £1.15m of Bristol City Council’s budget has also been invested in Bristol’s play areas since 2021, with £4m more to come by 2024.

Other play areas will see improvement works over the next year, I would encourage everyone to input in upcoming redesigns of your local play park.  

Look out for how you can get involved in the design and equipment choice for Oldbury Court and Hengrove Park play area.  

For a full list of playparks in Bristol and what equipment and facilities they each have, visit: Find a park with play equipment (

The new zip line in Dame Emily park is pictured, with trees seen in the background.
The new Zip Line in Dame Emily Park

Parking up the wrong tree

Bristol’s transport challenges require bold action. Big ideas.

We need to continue to transform the way that Bristolians can move around our city, by giving people an affordable, reliable alternative to their cars.

Portway Park & Ride, Bristol’s first new railway station in almost a century, opened a week ago. That’s a real achievement for our administration, working with partners. We’re already on site at Ashley Down station and pushing forward new stations at Henbury, Filton North, Ashton Gate, and St Annes.

This major investment in rail is generationally important, not least as we continue to tackle the climate crisis. But, compared to similarly sized cities, all those stations opening would still fall short of what Bristolians need and deserve: a mass transit fully system segregated from other modes of transport to ensure its reliability. To deliver a segregated system, we must include underground sections where there is no reasonable other option. Where there is available land, we can build segregated corridors but, in denser areas, underground sections are the only workable option. What those who oppose any underground don’t tell you, is that the alternative is closing Gloucester Road to all other traffic or knocking down the shops on one side of Church Road.

As two fully published feasibility studies set out, this is both deliverable and affordable in Bristol. As with all modern, major projects, this would require a mix of funding sources including from national government. But the productivity pay offs would be enormous, and the system would be profitable for operators and investors. There has been some sensationalist coverage of a flawed, leaked report that suggests that cost of a mass transit system for our city region is £19 billion. In reality, a properly costed plan, where underground is only used in densely populated areas suggests more like £7 billion. When London, where most of the tube network is above ground, recently got its most recent mass transit line, the Elizabeth Line, it cost £19 billion, so why shouldn’t Bristol be demanding the necessary investment.

When we looked at investing in a mass transit scheme, we identified one potential income stream is a Workplace Parking Levy. This would essentially serve as a surcharge on all drivers parking centrally while they’re at work. It has existed in Nottingham since 2011/12, where the money goes into their tram system (delivered at a time when Bristol could have had one too, had local leaders not fallen out in our region around the millennium). It now costs people in Nottingham around £500 a year to park at work there, with eight-out-of-ten companies passing the costs directly onto their employees.

Such schemes are not without controversy. In 2012, the Federation of Small Business led a campaign against Bristol adopting a similar scheme.

Some politicians – who oppose Bristol getting a mass transit system and so have nowhere truly significant to direct the funding, preferring instead to tinker around the edges with cycles of pet projects – continue to put the cart before the horse, just as they did when they called for the whole city to be covered by a charging Clean Air Zone before our administration had secured tens of millions of pounds of support for people. They were wrong then and they are wrong now.

With high inflation during a national cost of living crisis, now is not the time to create more costs for people. Others will say that today is an ideal moment to hit teachers, nurses, and other Bristolians parking at schools, hospitals, and other workplaces in central Bristol for hundreds of pounds, if not even more. They are wrong. Bristol has, in recent years, like the rest of the world, seen major changes in working patterns during and following the pandemic. These patterns will also have been impacted by the introduction of the Clean Air Zone, for which our administration recently secured another £11 million to help people and businesses to upgrade to compliant vehicles.

A study was done into the idea of a Workplace Parking Levy, which is lacking any modelling incorporating those major factors for its potential effectiveness. The council considers it, therefore, to be just a draft – a position endorsed by the Information Commissioner when we declined to publish it while it is still yet to be completed. This position has unfortunately since been overturned on a technical argument of law and so we are today publishing that draft report. It remains incomplete and, with the current stalling of the funding and ambition to take a mass transit system forward, we have no plans to introduce this charge.

Bristol’s street sex trade: Sam and Karen’s stories

Two hands are pictured holding, the hand on the right has a wedding ring visible.

Sam* and Karen* share their experiences as service users and volunteers in services to support women involved in the street sex trade.

*Names have been changed

Sam’s story

I was involved in the street sex trade and suffered from a heroin addiction for many years and used dedicated services to support me through the other side.

For the past 17 years, since I recovered from my addiction and broke free from the street sex trade, I have been working as a volunteer, supporting other women involved in the street sex trade. I’m passionate about ensuring women like me get the right support. I know from my own personal experience just how vulnerable the women are and they are so often marginalised in the community.

During the 17 years as a lived experience volunteer and member of support groups, I’ve witnessed a decline in services available to support women going through the same things I did.  

There are plenty of groups that offer support with issues such as drug abuse, mental health and domestic violence but there is still more to do for women involved in the street sex trade. We need to change policies to improve the long-term outcomes and if nothing is done, it is like saying that a section of society is expendable. It pins the blame on women who are trapped in the street sex trade without recognising or addressing factors such as addiction and the other complex pathways into this.

Karen’s story

For me, I wasn’t lucky enough to find support whilst I was in the sex trade but, after suffering violence and abuse for many years, I got away in the end. I ended up volunteering supporting other women and I spent a lot of time around like-minded women and those who had similar experiences as me.

Being in the street sex trade is an isolated lifestyle, it feels like you’re the only one, so when women open up to me it creates such a connection. These women are intelligent, articulate, and shouldn’t be underestimated.

Lived experience is so important within services as we are the eyes and ears that see and hear what others can’t, because we have experienced it ourselves. There needs to be a safe space for women who have experienced different issues to feel safe to speak openly. Being able to speak to women who have similar experiences, really helps mentally.   

The services aren’t all sadness, as me and Sam know, we can even have a laugh as we all have so much in common. These are daughters, sisters, aunties, mothers, who are loved and they deserve support and you cannot put a price on a life. It doesn’t take millions of pounds – just a core group of passionate women who are specialised to support those who are often forgotten about.

Summer exhibition: Coe Gallery at The Vestibules

Mayor Marvin Rees (Left) is pictured standing next to Jasmine Coe (Right), at the launch of the Coe Gallery's 'Summer' exhibition.
Today’s guest blog is from Jasmine Coe, Coe Gallery.

Welcome to ‘Summer’ is a group Aboriginal Art exhibiting celebrating emerging and established Aboriginal Artists and their stories. The exhibition has had an amazing time hosted in City Halls Vestibules, make sure you get down to see it before it closes on Thursday, 3 August.

Coe Gallery’s ‘Summer’ invites you to step into the beautifully bold, colourful and energetic landscapes of Aboriginal Land. Each work being a celebration of the artists connection to their homelands and culture. The artists’ love of land and country uplift us in their joyful paintings and demonstrates the deep connection, beauty and resilience of the many different Aboriginal cultures.  

The artists exhibiting in ‘Summer’ invite you on a journey, intending to inspire the same deep love and respect of nature for all who visit. As featured Wiradjuri artist Hannah Lange says, “All of my work is inspired by country. Whether that be the Bundjalung Country that I live on now, my Wiradjuri lineage country or the beautiful Darug and Gundungurra Country that I grew up on. I want to bring awareness to the beauty of the smallest parts of nature. Highlighting that country does not belong to us, we belong to country.”  

An Aboriginal artist is pictured painting one of the pieces of work seen in the Coe Galleries 'Summer' exhibition.
Four Aboriginal artists are pictured, smiling.

So far visitors have been captivated by the beautiful creations and have felt the intensity of the landscapes –  

“I could stand for hours in front of these. They’re hypnotic. Wonderful!”  

“Inspiring, wonderful exhibition. I felt myself taken into the landscapes and into Mother Earth.”  

A painting is pictured from the Coe Gallery's 'Summer' at the  Vestibules.
A painting named 'Raukkan' is pictured from the Coe Gallery's 'Summer' at the   Vestibules.

“Superb exhibition, beautiful and fascinating pieces. Wonderful to get a glimpse into the artists lives. Feel very lucky to see the work in person. Such an array of colour, texture, pattern and most important stories.”  

Come and experience the warmth and vibrancy ‘Summer’ brings to the Vestibules. Exhibition continues until Thursday, 3 August from 10am to 6pm.  

The Coe Gallery's logo is pictured with white outline on a black background, and text reading: Coe Gallery.

Amazing free Bristol-wide events in August and September

Councillor Craig Cheney is pictured, smiling, with a white wall in the background.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Craig Cheney, Deputy Mayor for Finance, Governance, Performance, and Culture and Labour Councillor for Hillfields ward.

Through our City Centre and High Streets Culture and Events Programme we are helping to support Bristol’s businesses and the recovery of the culture and events sector.

By leveraging Bristol’s strengths as a creative and diverse city we are encouraging people to visit, explore, and enjoy what Bristol has to offer, with a packed line-up of free events across the city centre and our priority local high streets.

Analysis of 20 completed projects shows that we have so far attracted over 134,000 extra visitors to the city, generated £2.08 million of additional spend in Bristol’s businesses and supported 320 paid jobs in culture and events, all from an investment to date of £444,000.

Bristol’s Summer Film Takeover continues throughout August and September. Marking a major milestone, The 4 Pillars: 50 Years of Hip Hop on 12 August offers a day of free screenings and activities exploring its four pillars – breakdancing, graffiti, DJing and rap – and how it has influenced and left a lasting legacy on Bristol’s culture.

A group of children are pictured in the background, attending Aardman's free clay model making workshop. A group of clay Gromit's from 'Wallace & Gromit' are pictured in the foreground.
Aardman’s free clay model making workshop

From 18 to 20 August Aardman@Sparks offers a weekend of free Aardman workshops and film screenings in Sparks, Bristol’s new art and sustainability hub. Stop by to watch non-stop Aardman films in the Department of Discovery or get hands on and join one of the Aardman team in creating an iconic clay model in the free clay model-making workshops or learn how to create scenes celebrating nature in the Amazing Scene Machine workshop outside the front of Sparks.

Limbic Cinema are creating an immersive installation using multi-screen visuals, light and sound to celebrate the power of moving image. This sensory experience takes the audience on a 45,000-year visual journey of moving images, from neolithic cave paintings to the advance of artificial intelligence, exploring how humans use technology to bring imagination and storytelling to life. Illusions of Movement runs on 15 and 16 September. A Wall is a Screen: Secrets of the Old City returns on 16 September.

The guided evening walking tour explores hidden architectural gems around the Old City and features a curated selection of short films projected onto nearby buildings to watch along the way.

People are pictured at Bristol's Comedy History Walk, in Bristol City Centre.
Bristol’s Comedy History Walk

On the Bristol Comedy History Walk, improvisers and comedians from Bristol Improv Theatre will take you on a guided tour through Old City and Broadmead sharing lesser-known Bristolian stories, using amusing anecdotes, to reveal another side of the city you thought you knew.

Returning bigger and better than ever, Knowle West Fest 23 will take over Filwood Broadway on Saturday 5 August. Starting at 11am with a colourful street parade, the community will wind their way through the streets before kicking off the festivities. The family friendly festival will be filled with music, workshops, activities, food, market stalls and more. You can join the Parade Making Day on Wednesday 2 August to help make the costumes and decorations for the parade.

The Art Weekender takes place on 19 August on East Street. Closing the road for the day, people can immerse themselves in a street experience filled with live theatre, choirs, performers and entertainment and crafts for children and families.

St George Community Centre will run Toddlefest on 20 August from 1pm to 4pm. The festival style event will include family fun and activities from We The Curious, face painting, music and dance.

A group of people are pictured watching a film that's projected on to a wall in Bristol City Centre. This is for Encounters' 'Wall is a Screen: Secrets of the Old City'. event
Encounters’ Wall Is a Screen: Secrets of the Old City

On Saturday 26 August, the last Saturday of the school holidays, Old City Sounds will take over Bristol’s Old City between 12pm and 6pm. Created by Bristol City Centre Business Improvement District, the family-friendly music event will celebrate different genres across four vibrant zones. The Old Duke Jazz Festival will lead the ‘Old City Jazz’ zone on King Street, the ‘Old City Kids’ zone will play children’s classics and have entertainment for the family at St Stephen’s Church garden, ‘Old City Acoustics’ at St Nick’s Market is the final bumper day of its Summer of Busking series, and St Nicholas Street will play host to classical and nu-wave musicians and vocalists in the ‘Old City Eclectic’ area.

Bristol Photo Festival have matched photographers and communities in Dreamlines, to produce a series of public exhibitions in early September along four of Bristol’s priority high streets: Filton Avenue, Shirehampton High Street, Stapleton Road, and Two Mile Hill. The exhibitions are the result of leading photographers and writers working with local residents across Bristol’s nine priority high streets to explore and celebrate the places they live, to make connections and to create a sense of place and identity.

The city centre and community markets continue to support traders, attract visitors and bring communities together:

A person is pictured, smiling, with a clay model of Gromit from Aardman's 'Wallace and Gromit'
Aardman’s free clay model making workshop

The tragic death of Eddie King Muthemba Kinuthia

Eddie King Muthemba Kinuthia is pictured, smiling, with a door in the background and a tree to his right.

Yesterday, Councillor Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor of Bristol, and I met with Irene Muthemba, the mother of Eddie King Muthemba Kinuthia, also known as EK, the young man from St Pauls who was killed in Bristol last weekend.

We were honoured to host Irene, as well as Eddie’s aunts, uncles, cousins, and other members of his family, at City Hall. It was a powerful meeting – but it is one which I wish was never needed, for an incident which should never have happened, with a family and community that should never have had to suffer such a loss.  

It was deeply moving to hear of the impact of Eddie’s murder on the family and to see how they have come together. We have pledged to support those affected however we can, both personally and working with organisations across Bristol as One City.  

Asher and I were both struck by the extraordinary graciousness of his family, in what must surely be the darkest time of their lives. That they were so focused on action and the needs of others, at a time of such unimaginable personal grief, is testament to the people of faith they are and, I’m sure, to the son that they raised. It is this spirit which saw them speak with such care about the wellbeing of Eddie’s friends: young people in our city, many of whom are traumatised by his murder and struggling to grieve this loss. 

Irene, Eddie’s mum, a Healthcare Assistant, also spoke of wanting to work to prevent the potential retaliation. She wants to stop that happening. She wants the fighting and killing to stop. She told us the family of the perpetrator will also lose a child, who has to carry the weight of killing someone and will end up in prison.  

Of course, Irene, and the whole family, want justice. I think I speak for the whole city in saying that we all do. Eddie deserves nothing less.  

We therefore again encourage anyone with any information to come forward. We know that sometimes people can be afraid, and so have sought – and can share – reassurance from the police that information provided to Crimestoppers is anonymous and that people otherwise coming forward will be kept safe.  

If you have any information which could help the investigation, please call 101, giving the reference 5223175298, or upload footage and information directly onto the Major Incident Public Portal. The independent charity Crimestoppers is also taking information 100 per cent anonymously. Whether you call 0800 555 111 or use their anonymous online reporting form, you’re never asked your name and you cannot be traced.  

Many people around Bristol will want to support Eddie’s family at this time. The family have started a Go Fund Me to help cover the costs of a funeral which they never anticipated, and which no parent should ever have to arrange. At this most difficult time, the family have asked that the media respect their privacy.  

Eddie was a talented young man. He was a member of the E5 Church on Jamaica Street. His whole life was ahead of him.  

That the fullness of Eddie’s promise will go unfulfilled is a deep tragedy for a Bristol family – and thus, for our whole city.

Supporting residents to enable them to live independently for as long as possible

Councillor Helen Holland, smiling with college green, Bristol Cathedral and trees in the background.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Helen Holland, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and the Integrated Care System and Labour Councillor for Hartcliffe and Withywood ward.

Home is where the heart is. It is the place where memories are created and cherished, but, for some people, their home can start to feel like a barrier to their wellbeing if their care needs change. That might mean considering saying goodbye to the home they love and may have lived in for a considerable amount of time, and that might add to their anxiety. However, thanks the work we do with We Care Home Improvements, that doesn’t always need to be the case.

At Bristol City Council, we work with We Care Home Improvements (WECHI) to provide funded home improvement work to eligible people and where subsidies aren’t available, offer low cost loans. We started to work with them back in 2018 and recently approved an extension of their contract at Cabinet in June.

What having home adaptations can mean to someone

Home adaptations help people live independently as much as possible and can be needed for several reasons. To help them enter and leave their homes; wash, bathe and use the toilet; use living and sleeping areas; use food preparation and cooking areas; access some of the garden and reduce risks in the home related to an impairment.

The tour group, including Cllr Helen Holland and Cllr Donald Alexander stand in the garden of Addison Apartments. Behind them, the apartment building and gardens can be seen.
A picture from a visit to Addison Apartments, assisted living homes that allow people to live independently for longer.

Who can get help from us with home adaptations

We may be able to help any vulnerable adult in need of home adaptions, but we’ll see you as a priority if you’re terminally ill, your care arrangements have broken down, your health has suddenly got worse, there is risk of physical injury to you or your carer, or you can’t come home from hospital without alterations to your home.

A red heart is pictured with on a yellow background.

Returning home to a much safer environment thanks to We Care Home Improvements

We Care Home Improvements (WECHI) recently helped make home adaptations to Mr H’s house after being referred to them when he was admitted to hospital. Concerns had been raised that his home was unsafe for him to return to. He lives alone and has no close family or support network. An initial visit was made to assess the issues at the property and a visit to the hospital to agree the works with Mr H. Fall risks included an insecure handrail on the stairs, a loose stair carpet, and the wooden kitchen floor was also unsafe. In addition, the front door lock was faulty, and the toilet cistern was broken. A deep clean was required and a key-safe needed to be fitted to enable a package of care to be put in place for Mr H to return home.

Before any repair work could be undertaken, a deep clean was carried out. A WECHI handyperson visited the property to carry out the small repairs which included securing the rail and stair carpet, fixing the front door lock and fitting a key-safe to enable access for carers. The toilet was then replaced by a plumbing contractor and a carpenter carried out extensive repairs to the kitchen floor, to make it safe.

All the works were coordinated and completed within five working days, and the hospital was updated so that a package of care could be arranged for Mr H to return home as soon as possible.

You can find out more about home adaptations and equipment, how Bristol City Council can help you or someone you know carry on living independently at home and how to get in touch by visiting Home adaptations and equipment (

Three new Family Hubs launch in Bristol that provide access to support

Councillor Asher Craig is pictured, smiling, with a bush in the background.

This blog is from Cllr Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor for Children Services, Education, and Equalities and Labour Councillor for St George West ward.

I was fortunate enough to be asked to launch three new Family Hubs in Bristol in June, seeing the joy of children and families coming together was special.

It was a typically colourful Bristol affair with community organisations, families, charities, and locals coming together to share food, fun activities, and information. It was also Eid, so there was a definite air of celebration at each of the new Hubs I attended, which are in Hartcliffe, Southmead and East Central Bristol (Wellspring Settlement).  

The hubs are a ‘one-stop-shop’, offering a wide range of information and support to all families. This ranges from conception, through to age 19, or up to 25 for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).  

Our Family Hubs give cause for celebration. Bristol is one of 75 local authorities selected by the UK Government to receive £4.8 million in funding to set up the new Hubs.

The range of help and information on offer through the Hubs include; community activities, help with baby feeding, emotional wellbeing, physical and mental health, early years and education, parenting support, housing and debt advice, youth activities and domestic abuse support, as well as services run by charities.

Future investment in this programme means that services will be transformed, and the offer will expand over time to include a physical, outreach offer, a community-based youth offer and a website as part of the new Family Hub network.  

A baby is pictures, smiling, looking at the camera. In the background blurred our people are pictured smiling.
Photography: Lisa Whiting

Family Hubs support the overarching aim of the city’s Belonging Strategy, which is that everyone in Bristol will have the best start in life, receiving the information, support and skills they need to flourish into adulthood. And more than this, the new Hubs underline our ambition to support all children, families, and young people to thrive.

We know the first two years of a child’s life are critical in terms of life outcomes, which is why at the heart of each Hub is the new Start for Life offer, which focuses on the first 1,001 days of a child’s life.  

Bristol has more to celebrate, also recently being recognised by UNICEF UK’s Baby Friendly Initiative and awarded the prestigious Baby Friendly Award. This award reflects Bristol’s ongoing commitment to increasing breastfeeding rates and improving care for all mothers. Bristol has higher-than-average breastfeeding rates at 6-8 weeks (70.9 per cent vs. 54.4 per cent nationally).  

A young person is pictured getting her face painted. To her right a person is pictured with a mask painted on their face.
Photography: Lisa Whiting

This comes from a partnership of Bristol City Council, UK Government, Community Children’s Health Partnership, NHS Bristol and Healthier Together and a range of voluntary and community organisations. The new Hubs will also include wider, wraparound services that can make a huge difference to people who need extra support, such as advice on getting into work, relationship building and stop smoking services.  

Co-locating services is an important part of the family Hubs model. However, in and of itself, it doesn’t guarantee better outcomes for families. It’s only the start.

We know that the families who may need our help the most, will not find it easy to explain what they need or ask for help. That’s why feedback on the new Hubs will be vital so we know what is and what isn’t working well for families.

As with all our work around children and families, we have formed the Family Hub and Start for Life Parent Carer Panel (PCP) to ensure that parents and carers voices can influence how support and services are delivered in Bristol via the new Hubs.

A picture of Bristol Family Hub bunting is pictured on a gazebo. The logo has colourful patters and writing reading: Bristol Family Hubs.
Photography: Lisa Whiting

The Mayor of Bristol’s annual address 2023

*Check against delivery; above, from 1:25:05*

Thank you Lord Mayor

As this is my last annual address, I want to thank all the Lord Mayors I’ve worked with. 

In 2016 I stood in this chamber and said: if you want to go fast, go alone and if you want to go far, go together.

And I’d say that together we have gone far in these seven years. We have got stuff done.

At the heart of that is positive working relationships with our city partners across health, higher and further education, unions, voluntary sector, private sector who want to go in the same direction. They have jumped at the chance to work with an ambitious, outward looking local authority clear on its values. That has translated into national partners such as Homes England, Network Rail, L&G and DLUC wanting to invest with us.

The common theme that made those relationships successful was everyone committed to taking on complex challenges and secure delivery for Bristol people.

And there have been great occasions where coalitions of the cabinet, the Labour group, and some councillors in other parties have worked with us to ensure delivery on issues of real local importance such as bus lanes, liveable neighbourhoods, citizen assembly and of course the budget.

I want to reflect on this record of delivery:

City Leap; four years in the making, at a cost of seven million pounds plus officer time. Now bringing £630 million of investment by 2028, saving over 150,000 tonnes of emissions and transforming our relationship with energy. Its being held up as a national and international example other UK cities are working to replicate.

That is one of the reasons our international profile has become so strong – City Leap was discussed at London climate week and will be on the agenda at COP 28 as the world understands that it is in cities that the battle against climate change will be won or lost.

Real and tangible cultural investment; Bristol Beacon, old Vic and St George’s. This year there are over 100 free events in Bristol, as well as the growth of our festivals including the return of St Paul’s Carnival.

Investment in children and young people – new schools: Elmfield school for deaf people, Oasis Academy Daventry Road and Oasis Academy Temple Quarter on Silverthorne Lane. That contributes to an increase in school places including SEND. And of course we have the Youth Zone, a major investment in young people in South Bristol but available to people across Bristol.

We have a Clean Air Zone, we have a moral and legal requirement to deliver compliant air quality in the shortest possible time. We’ve secured £42million to support people and businesses through the transition. We’ve just secured another £11 million of exemption funding. And we intervened by the way to ensure the threshold for targeted support was increased from those earning under £27,000 to £30,000 a year.

Other Public Health interventions were key as we navigated the pandemic and worked with NHS services to roll out the vaccine.

We overhauled the work to tackle violence and abuse against women and girls through the Women’s Safety Charter and the priority housing for women fleeing domestic violence and abuse.

Transport interventions such as closing Cotham Hill and Princess Victoria Street to cars and the introduction of other segregated cycle routes around the city. We’ve pedestrianised of the Old City and King street. And we’ve invested in bus gates and bus lanes to give them priority. We put bus gates on Bristol Bridge and Baldwin street to improve bus frequency and reliability.

And we’ve started the long overdue work on our bridges over the new cut with £16 million repairs now underway, from Gaol Ferry Bridge, through to Sparke Evans, Vauxhall Bridge, Bath Bridge, Langton Street and Bedminster bridge.

We are opening new train stations at Portway and Ashley Down, the first since the Beeching Report. And of course, we secured £95 million for Temple Meads unlocking the regeneration of temple quarter and temple island which will build out over the coming decades. Bringing 10,000 homes, 22,000 jobs and £1.5 billion into the city economy every year.

Looking to the future, we have the Local Plan – which will set a framework for how we use our 42 square miles for homes, work, ecology and leisure. This will come to Full Council to consider later this year.

Most importantly of all: we’ve built homes – Last year Bristol built 2,563 new homes with 474 of these being affordable, the most in more than a decade at a time when it is most difficult to get it done.

Over the remaining months of this administration we’ll continue to work with those who want to get stuff done for Bristol and deliver homes.

We are securing public and private investment, with £2 billion ready to be spent in Bristol. That means homes and commercial growth and jobs. And we’ve put the SDGs at the heart of our One City Plan which means this growth will be inclusive and sustainable.

These investments include:

Debenhams, the Galleries, St James Barton, our own development at Hengrove Park and the Western Harbour.

Building affordable quality homes in the right places is the single most significant intervention we can make to change Bristol into a city where our children get off to the best start in life, improve population health, build safe communities and reduce the price the planet pays for hosting us in our growing numbers.

There’s a point to make here – we get a lot of people agree we need to build homes, for all those reasons and more. But they lack either the political will, or political courage to see it through and deliver.  

With that challenge in mind, I offer a reflection for the next eight years.

Bristol is a collective act – what people get from Bristol is not the result of any single organisation’s decisions. People actually sit at the intersection of the decisions made by local government, health service, business, voluntary community sector, unions, faith groups, criminal justice system, national government. It has to be about more than Bristol City Council.

We have to bring all those institutions into alignment around shared goals.

Andy Marsh, our former chief constable said that world-class public sector leadership is not about what you control, it’s about what you influence.

That’s what the city office offers you, and that’s why the City Office is important.

I encourage you to reach out and take on the challenge; grow those relationships and maintain the levels of ambition.  

Lastly I will say – not for the last time – what an honour its been to represent this city and work for the residents of Bristol.

I’m connected to Bristol, I was born and raised here and this is my family’s home. 

It’s no secret I’m going though selection for Bristol North East seat at this time, but that will not take me away from my day job – I’m still putting the hours in preparing for this winter’s cost of living crisis, driving housing delivery, leading temple quarter regeneration and all the other work we have to do.

You won’t see me looking for a winnable seat in London, Plymouth, Manchester or elsewhere. Bristol is it for me.

I will continue to work to deliver for the next 10 months and whatever I can do after those 10 months to support Bristol I will.

Thank you