Author Archives: marvinjrees

International Day of Education

Today’s guest blog comes from Jenny Foster, Project Lead for the Global Goals Centre

Education. What does the word mean to you? Inspiration? Stress? Boredom?

Nelson Mandela described education as “the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world”. That’s true if education is relevant to our lives and helps us understand the world and imagine ways to improve it. But often education is too dry and disconnected from the real world to excite or inspire.

This year’s International Day of Education focusses on how to strengthen education as a public endeavour and common good, to unlock the potential in every person to contribute to collective well-being, and build a more sustainable, inclusive and peaceful future.

We certainly need education and skills to enable us to thrive and to overcome the collective challenges we face – the climate crisis, impacts of the pandemic and inequality. The Sustainable Development Goals (Global Goals) give us a wide-angled lens to address these challenges, but these can only be reached with creative solutions and widespread education and engagement. Everyone learns differently, and using creative and digital tools expands our mindsets, captures our imaginations, and enables more people to be included.

At the Global Goals Centre we work creatively to engage children and young people with these Goals via themes relevant to their lives, such as fashion and migration. Using digital games, art projects and filming, people of all ages can be inspired and empowered to learn, and to find ways they can make a difference, individually and collectively. Education can and should be fun!

So, on this International Day of Education, embrace the opportunity to learn something new – be surprised and get inspired! Check out some of the resources on our Resource Hub – watch a film about incredible environmental projects in Africa, view an art installation by Syrian refugees or learn about growing projects in local schools. You can search by theme to follow your own interest or passion.

Watch the Bristol 17 films to find out what 17 brilliant Bristolians of all ages are doing in our city to help achieve the 17 Global Goals. And share inspiring films, books and projects with others – great ideas can be contagious!

Happy International Day of Education.

Help us improve a major transport route

Today’s guest blog comes from Cllr Don Alexander, Cabinet Member for Transport

It’s vital that we tackle congestion and air pollution across Bristol. This means reducing carbon and improving the air we breathe, improving the speed and reliability of buses and making it safer on our streets for cyclists and walkers. It’s time we think differently about the way we travel in Bristol.

Our designs for the number 2 bus route (A37/A4018), which will improve journeys along this busy traffic corridor, have been shaped by the people who live, work and travel along it.

We opened our consultation on these proposals at the start of December and have since had many people get involved and give us their views.

I’d like to thank everyone for taking the time to look at our plans and share their thoughts with us. There’s still time to tell us what you think if you haven’t got round to it yet.  

The number 2 bus route is one of eight main bus routes that need to be improved in Bristol. It travels from Cribbs Causeway to Stockwood via the city centre, following the A37 and A4018.

Overall, we want to encourage more people to choose to make the switch to take the bus, walk or cycle. For this to happen, we need to improve the service offered by the number 2 bus by making it easier to catch, more reliable, with shorter journey times.

We’re also committed to active travel, and our proposals will achieve better spaces for walkers and make it safer to cycle.

This project is part of our wider transformation over the next decade, working with the West of England Combined Authority, to make Bristol’s transport network better for all.

Through our ongoing consultation, we need to know if we have struck the right balance for the city with our designs and are reminding everyone to have their say.

We’ve launched a virtual room online (see photo of what it looks like below) that allows you to isolate the parts of the route you’re familiar with, find out what we’re planning along local streets, and give your views.

Screenshot of the Virtual Engage tool for the number 2 bus route consultation

We’re also continuing to host a series of drop-in information sessions so you can find out more about the proposals and ask us your questions.

To see our plans, book onto a drop-in session, and have your say, go to the Travelwest website by 28 January 2022.

Improving advocacy in Bristol

I’m pleased to share that the Keeping Bristol Safe Partnership (KBSP) and the Community Learning Team (at the West of England Combined Authority) are offering a Level 2 City and Guilds Award in Independent Advocacy.

The qualification is the equivalent of one GCSE and helps learners understand the role of an advocate, providing a steppingstone into the world of advocacy. The qualification’s first cohort started in September 2021 and the qualification will run at least four times a year.

Bristol is a trauma-informed city and acknowledges that people may have had Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). This means that safeguarding services and partner agencies in Bristol recognise that people have experience of different types of trauma and ACEs in their lives and acknowledges the potential effects that this can have on individuals, as well as on their families, networks, and communities.

Aligned with the KBSP’s Priority Number 2, ‘Citizens of Bristol are our equal partners’, they undertook a survey with parents and carers who had children on child protection plans to look at how child protection conferences can be more inclusive.

One of the themes that emerged was the importance of peer advocacy and feelings of being heard – having someone who understood what it was like to be in their situation speaking on their behalf when they felt disempowered.

The role of an independent advocate is to support and represent a person and to facilitate their involvement in the key processes and interactions with the local authority and other organisations as required.

Through discussions with partner agencies that provide advocacy services, it was agreed that Bristol would benefit from an advocacy qualification that was recognised throughout the city. Advocating for someone can be an important part of a person’s healing journey too.

Initially, the KBSP and the Community Learning Team created a six-week pilot course as an introduction to advocacy. After meeting with the first cohort of learners, they reflected that they wanted a more in-depth course and an accredited qualification that was nationally recognised. After extensive research, the Community Learning Team registered to run the Level 2 City and Guilds Award in Independent Advocacy. Partner safeguarding agencies have contributed content to support the qualification, so learners have a better understanding of safeguarding services and their role within Bristol.

The Community Learning Team run the qualification for free, providing learners with a laptop and internet access, as well as creche facilities. They also provide English for speakers of other languages support, learning assistants, and routes to gain GCSEs in Maths and English.

If you would like further information about the qualification and to sign up as a learner, please contact Lucy Fieldhouse at the Community Learning Team: lucy.fieldhouse@bristol.gov.uk

If you are a safeguarding agency and would like to contribute content to the qualification, please contact Jennifer Wills at the KBSP: Jennifer.wills@bristol.gov.uk  

You can find more information about the qualification here:

Level 2 Award in Independent Advocacy – Community Learning Bristol (communitylearningwest.net)

Food Equality Strategy

Today’s blog is by Councillor Ellie King, Cabinet Member for Public Health, Communities, and One City

The One City Food Equality Strategy sets out a vision for a more equitable food system in Bristol. Designed with input from across the city, it reflects the desire to ensure that food is a right and not a privilege.

Food equality exists when all people, at all times, have access to nutritious, affordable and appropriate food according to their social, cultural and dietary needs. They are equipped with the resources, skills and knowledge to use and benefit from food, which is sourced from a resilient, fair and environmentally sustainable food system.” – One City Food Equality Stakeholders, 2021

We know that people in Bristol have unequal access to nutritious, affordable and sustainably sourced food. Food inequality has been made worse by COVID-19 and is further threatened by impacts of Brexit and climate change.

It is the people who are already most disadvantaged who will feel the impacts of food inequality first and most severely. It is vitally important that we tackle this issue, for our city, our climate and our future. We must act now to ensure an equitable local food system is established.

The draft Food Equality Strategy has been developed in collaboration between Bristol City Council and Feeding Bristol. We have worked with more than 60 organisations to develop the Strategy.

The draft Strategy sets out the strategic aims that we think are needed to achieve food equality in Bristol and sets out five priorities:

  • fair equitable access
  • choice and security
  • skills and resources
  • a sustainable local food system
  • food at the heart of decision-making

We also plan to develop a Food Equality Action Plan which will set out clear and accountable actions to deliver the Strategy for food equality in the city. We intend to develop this Action Plan in early 2022.

Right now, we are asking for the public’s views on our draft One City Food Equality Strategy for Bristol 2022-2032. We are also asking for your ideas about what this will look like as we begin to design an action plan.

The Food Equality Strategy works to identify and tackle the issue of rising food inequality in our city. Informed by community conversations with people who have lived experience of food inequality, it is a legacy of the ‘Going for Gold’ Sustainable Food Places campaign, and builds on work and research that has been carried out over the last two decades in Bristol.

Working alongside the Bristol Good Food Plan 2030, and other One City initiatives that tackle poverty and inequality, its ambitious aim is for a food system that is just and fair. Its scope is far reaching to ensure that food is placed in the heart of communities; looking at issues of access to nutritious, affordable and appropriate food, to our relationship with the land and food production, through to the need to ensure that food is considered as part of city planning and decision making.

This strategy represents an opportunity for Bristol to take a national lead on tackling issues of food insecurity and food inequality more broadly, and with the help of everyone in the city, we have no doubt that this can be made a reality.

The strategy is now out for public consultation until the 23rd of December, and you can click on this link to share your views and opinions now.

Support needed for businesses to survive Omicron

Today’s guest blog comes from Carly Heath, Bristol’s Night Time Economy Advisor

Omicron is like the poor Christmas sequel nobody wanted, looming over our communities and damaging our economy once more.  

Just a couple of weeks ago our hospitality sector was booming, businesses were struggling to find staff, bookings were healthy across the city, and the supply chain was fully stocked ready for a busy festive season.  

Fast forward three weeks and the current situation is in stark contrast.  

We must of course all take steps to protect ourselves and each other when the virus is now circulating so rapidly – many of us want to see loved ones at Christmas and we all need to protect the health service from becoming overwhelmed. But we also need to ensure businesses and workers in the city are prioritised in the coming months.

I’ve been speaking to businesses across the sector, particularly in hospitality, and since the work from home directive was issued last week Christmas party bookings have tumbled. There is not a single business unaffected. 

This has serious implications across the city. Fully booked staff rosters are dwindling. Temporary staff, often on low incomes and zero hours contracts, are being relieved of their shifts the week before Christmas. 

And where is the Chancellor? As I see it, he has a number of options available to him when it comes to reinstating support packages.

In the darkest days of the pandemic VAT was slashed to 5% to support those businesses being hardest hit by restrictions. We’re currently at 12.5% and this will increase to 20% in April. Of course, implementing further VAT relief will only be of benefit if businesses are able to trade, and with takings down across the board, taking this step alone won’t be enough to save jobs.  

Grants such as the Additional Restrictions Grants (ARG) sound great on paper, but in reality, those in hospitality have very few restrictions on them at the moment. They’ve been told by the government they can stay open, but the population has been told by Chris Whitty to deprioritise social contact. The restrictions on hospitality are practically self-imposed, and once again, hospitality is feeling the raw end of this pandemic. We need to see support packages reinstated with the flexibility built in to reflect this challenge.   

Business rates relief may be a blunt tool, but it would be a relief for many, nonetheless. The Chancellor needs to ensure that any rate relief is fully compensated so that our cash-strapped councils can also weather this storm.  

However, rates relief won’t offer much comfort to the supply chain. New Year’s Eve was looking really healthy for our nightclubs, local performers and promoters. Much of the creative NTE supply chain are freelancers. Many of them received very little help throughout this pandemic. 

Sector specific furlough will help stem the job losses, but we must be mindful of those who are not on the payroll when schemes are designed and ensure support is available to these groups too.

The supply chain within the food and drink sector is also going to be seriously impacted by this loss in footfall in what is usually their busiest three weeks of the year. We have 14 breweries in Bristol. All of them will have been making produce for months to satisfy the demand over this festive season.  

That’s why I signed a letter to the Chancellor today, alongside the Business Improvement Districts and businesses in the city, calling on the government to step up support for our sector once more.

The night time economy, hospitality and the supply chain have been on the raw end of this pandemic throughout. I’m concerned for the wellbeing of workers in the industry who have been on a Corona-coaster for the past 20 months. If you know anyone who earns a living from this sector, please drop them a line to check in on how they are. We all need to be looking out for each other right now. 

If you are going out and enjoying yourself this Christmas, please go and get your booster and consider taking a test before going anywhere busy or crowded. These are simple measures that will help us all to stay safe, and our businesses to stay open.

It’s time for government to step up support once again – if they are genuine about their commitment to helping businesses survive, they will take the immediate action the sector so desperately needs to survive the winter. 

Winter pressures

Today’s guest blog comes from Oona Goldsworthy, CEO of Brunelcare

Looking back to December 2020, we all remember being placed in lockdown to help bring the spread of COVID-19 under control and ease some of the pressure on our health and social care providers.     

Now it’s December 2021, and we’re facing the Omicron variant and more restrictions on our everyday lives – but this time we have the additional challenge of serious staff shortages in health and social care. Various factors including pay, shifts, illness, wellbeing, burnout, family commitments and the impact of Brexit, mean that we are seeing a significant shortfall in the numbers of staff needed. We are relying heavily on agency cover, the cost of which has increased significantly and is pushing already tight budgets to breaking point.

Due to these staff shortages, it is proving be difficult to continue operating some care homes and homecare. This adds further pressure to our colleagues in our local hospital trusts, as medically fit people with no care placements must remain in hospital beds. To put this into context, North Bristol NHS Trust currently has one quarter of all its beds occupied by medically fit people.

The images of ambulances queuing at A&E are distressing and so, taking inspiration from the One City response to the pandemic 21 months ago, on Monday 13 December 30 key staff from across health, social care and other sectors in the city, came together. Representatives ranged from care homes to NHS hospital trusts, and from Clinical Commissioning Groups to Bristol City Council Adult Social Care. They were joined by other key city partners including First Bus, TUC, VOSCUR, Business West and City of Bristol College. Karin Smyth, MP for Bristol South and Shadow Minister for Health and Social Care, also joined the discussion.

Over two hours, we discussed the barriers we are currently facing and mapped out ideas we can take now to ease the pressure, as well as building towards a longer-term strategy. Discussions and ideas ranged from starting a city-wide campaign to celebrate our care workers to working with City of Bristol College to produce a programme of training and development to better retain staff. Other ideas highlighted using everyday buildings as community hubs and providing additional incentives from Bristol businesses for those working in social care. New connections were made for more effective collaboration across sectors with the voluntary sector providing essential insight into how local communities could get more involved.

We’ve made some good progress already to help ease the pressures in health and social care. We will continue working together as One City until we have solutions to help support our front-line workers and residents in need of care. No one should have to stay in hospital a night longer than they must and as One City we will do our best to ensure this.      

Freedom of the City: Val Jeal

On 7 November, Freedom of the City was awarded to Val Jeal MBE, the founder of local charity One25. I am proud to have seconded the motion which conferred Val with Freedom of the City, which recognises exceptional contributions to life in Bristol and beyond.

Freedom of the City is a rare honour, with Paul Stephenson and David Attenborough alongside former Prime Ministers and Nobel Laureates on the civic roll. Last month, Daryn Carter MBE, founder of Bristol Pride, was conferred with Freedom of the City.

Val’s contribution to building a better, more equal Bristol, and world, is truly inspiring: founding the Salvation Army Candle Project for street homeless people in St Pauls; volunteering in Genesis House, Chicago; founding One25 to support street-based female sex workers in our city; advising on similar projects in Greece, the Netherlands, and Indonesia; supporting the rehabilitation of male ex-offenders in Bristol; and setting up the Well and Naomi House. In 2003, Val was awarded an MBE and, in 2018, conferred with an Honorary Doctorate of Laws by Bristol University.

Val Jeal’s Freedom of the City speech can be watched from 18:35 or read in full below. My speech can be viewed from 2:40.

I should like to thank all those involved in making the decision to confer this great honour of Freedom of the City of Bristol on me. Thank you.

I should also like to take this opportunity to thank my husband, Cliff, for his love and support. Without Cliff’s support, given in many ways, it would not have been possible for me to do the work I have done.

And, of course, I want to thank the amazing women I have worked with – those in One25 and those I met through the work. They have given far more to me than I could ever have given to them.

My life has been changed by the men and women I have been privileged to work with – for the better. I have learned so much about their courage in overcoming pain and hardship. It has indeed been a huge privilege that they have allowed me to share in their lives, often to a deep level.

I am delighted that the work of One25 continues – the need remains.

Finally, I accept this honour on behalf of marginalised women the world over who have no freedom, no voice and no power. Thank you.

Photos courtesy of Cliff Jeal.

UN International Day of Disabled People

Today’s guest blog is from Alun Davies, Chair of the new Bristol Disability Equality Commission

I am Alun Davies. I became chair of Bristol’s new Disability Equality Commission in September. This is my second contribution to the Mayor’s blog.

Before I give you an update on what I have been doing since September, I would like to talk about the United Nations International Day of Disabled People which takes place on 3rd  December. For me, this day is a timely reminder of the millions of Disabled people through-out the world who are denied really basic civil and human rights, choice equality and services. There are still many countries in the world where basic needs are not met, and services taken for granted elsewhere in the world do not exist for everyone. In many of these places Disabled people are often at the bottom of the pile if they are even considered at all.

It is of course understandable that we focus on making things better in Bristol and this country as that is where we live. Personally though, I think we must never miss the opportunity to remember we are part of a much bigger global community. I will be asking the Commission when we are working to mark each December 3rd with a call on every country that has not yet ratified the International Convention on the Rights of Disabled people to do so, and for all countries including this one to fully implement all aspects of the convention.

My focus since my last blog has been recruiting Disabled people to be commissioners. After an extensive publicity campaign, we have received over 20 applications. We will be interviewing over the next few weeks. I hope to announce the names of the commissioners by the end of January, and for the commission to meet for the first time in mid-February.

I have also chaired the first meeting of a task and finish group the Mayor asked me to set up. This group will be developing an action plan to implement the recommendations from the Building Rights report. The report, written by Sir Stephen Bubb, investigated the experiences of several people with autism and people with learning difficulties in the city. It revealed many challenges and concerns that the Mayor and all people engaged in working with and supporting people with Autism and people with learning difficulties in the city are determined to tackle. The group will report by March next year.

If anyone would like to contact me directly, please email the Commission’s general inbox: general.bdec@gmail.com

Tackling modern slavery

Today’s blog, to mark the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, is by Jaya Chakrabarti MBE, CEO of TISC Report and President of the Bristol Chamber of Commerce & Initiative. (Copyright: PA Photos)

Seven years ago I met an inspirational chap, Andrew Wallis (now with a well earned OBE). Andrew was (and still is) the CEO of the award winning anti-slavery charity Unseen, and he explained to me what human trafficking and modern slavery were. I was horrified, having led an incredibly sheltered life, as middle class Indian girls tend to lead. But I was finally able to understand where the street kids I played with in my childhood in my grandmother’s village had gone. They didn’t move. They were most likely trafficked across the border of Bangladesh and India.

I committed my geeky data skills that day to playing my part in putting an end to the systems that facilitated such terrible exploitation and misery for countless human beings. It was when, in my head, TISCreport.org (our Transparency in Supply Chains reporting platform) was born. 

We began, as data scientists, by monitoring compliance with the newly enacted Section 54 of the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015. Data flooded in from Companies House, Open Corporates, and a number of ethical companies willing to share their statements and their supplier lists. Nearly 18,000 large corporations in the UK were in scope, and through them, their supply chains. We had a huge task ahead. 

Six years later, we now know so much more about both the world of compliance and its connection with what happens to workers at the end of those supply chains. Exploitation happens not just out there in faraway lands but also much closer to home. TISCreport.org became a place where we were able to start to see patterns in corporate behaviour, and how they affected workers rights. Our systems were able to see things coming, from the collapse of Carillion to the reports of modern slavery in Boohoo’s supply chains in Leicester. 

It fills me with pride to say that my city, Bristol, was the first to commit to supply chain transparency in the UK, and in fact the world. Many have followed the lead we have set. The Welsh Government, with whom we work closely, has built upon Section 54 with its own ethical employment code of practice for all 22 Welsh local authorities. The Coop Party’s Modern Slavery Charter also encouraged many of its councils to sign up, with Bristol among the first to sign. 

Now, as 2021 comes to a close, we understand that we can use the same supply chains to amplify and accelerate our environmental actions. As it turns out, if we need to rewire the planet, supply chains are a good place to start! 

We may not have ended exploitation yet, but our data and the work of countless others has proven the interconnectedness between social and environmental justice. We’ve never been in a better position to take action on both. We just need to make what we do in 2022 count.

If your organisation wants to join the corporate transparency movement, you can join tiscreport.org for free. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Freedom of the City: Daryn Carter

On 9 November, Freedom of the City was awarded to Daryn Carter MBE, the director of Bristol Pride since co-founding the organisation in 2009.

I am proud to have proposed that Daryn be conferred with Freedom of the City, which recognises exceptional contributions to life in Bristol and beyond.

Freedom of the City is a rare honour, with Paul Stephenson and David Attenborough alongside former Prime Ministers and Nobel Laureates on the civic roll. In early December, Val Jeal, founder of local charity One 25, will become the first woman conferred with our highest civic honour.

Under Daryn’s leadership, Bristol Pride has grown its annual event to one of the largest in the country, with an audience of 40,000 in 2019. Daryn’s contribution to building a better, more equal Bristol, and Britain, is truly inspiring: from working with local schools and prisons, to inputting the LGBT+ manifesto into our One City Plan, to campaigning for the legalisation of same sex marriage. He won the Lord Mayor’s Medal in 2014 and, in 2020, was awarded an MBE in Her Majesty the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to the LGBT+ community.

Daryn’s Freedom of the City speech can be watched from 19:30 or read in full below.

I am incredibly humbled and honoured to be awarded freedom of the city.

I have now been working in equalities and diversity for nearly 20 years. From helping to improve engagement and diversity in my roles in recruitment with the BBC and others, to 13 years building Bristol Pride up from scratch to be one of the largest Pride events in the UK, and named in the Top50 Global Pride events and as many opportunities to step up and stand up for equality and injustice as I can in-between.

It is a labour of love and I am sure some of you have heard me say before that I feel that Pride saved my life, attending Brighton Pride showed me that I was not alone and not a freak at one of my darkest times it was hope. I hold that closely to my heart every year planning the festival, I remember what it means to so many and the power that it has to touch hearts and change minds. But it’s not been without challenge and personal sacrifice not just for myself but for those close to me too.

There are things to celebrate and progress made but it can for the most part be a thankless task. As well as the immense pressure of delivering events that champion and also support the community it’s done in the face of increasing tensions in society and it’s hard to be on the front line of this. Being exposed to the prejudice and hatred levelled at people for being who they are, loving who they love or simply existing is one of the biggest challenges of working to creating a better society for all. You have to take the rough with the smooth but it can take its toll. Sadly this tension is only gotten worse, Hate Crime levelled at the LGBT+ community trebled in the last few years with increasing physical violence and if you look at the stats for our Trans community it’s even worse, a rise of over 332%.

It is a stark reminder that there is still a lot more to do and that we all play a part in tackling social injustice, in all forms, to and ensure we stand up to protect and be a voice for all those that we represent regardless.

I said it’s a thankless task and we don’t do it for thanks. We do it because of passion and because it is much needed, but when the thank you’s do come they are truly welcome. This means so much to me.

Thank you.