Author Archives: marvinjrees

Volunteer with Can Do Bristol

Ellie King smiling on the City Hall Ramp
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Ellie King,
Cabinet Member for Public Health and Communities, and a Labour Councillor for Hillfields ward.

We are facing a challenging autumn and winter. The rising cost of living is affecting a huge number of people in our city, as the prices of energy, food and other essentials continue to increase. We are launching this callout to ask for volunteers to come forward to be part of Bristol’s shared response to this crisis. 

Bristol’s volunteer response during the pandemic was inspiring and demonstrated the can-do attitude of our residents. Bristolians came together to help their communities. We learned that volunteering is crucial when it comes to building the strong, community-led support that’s needed at a local and city-wide level. We would love to see the same happen again now as we face a different, but equally important challenge.

The council is taking a One City and community-led approach to the cost of living crisis. The aim is to support residents and community organisations across Bristol to take action in their neighbourhoods to make a difference where it matters most. This will continue to bring our communities together, build relationships and strengthen our neighbourhoods. 

Communities rely on volunteers and the goodwill of people to get us through situations like these. You can get involved by volunteering with a local organisation to help them respond to the needs of the community.

Everyone has something to offer, whether it’s your time, your talents, or your enthusiasm to do something positive. There are a huge range of volunteering opportunities available on the Can Do Bristol website, including providing essential advice to residents, cooking and serving food, general admin support or even helping at one of our welcoming spaces. You can find a full list of opportunities on Can Do Bristol’s website.  

Volunteering is an incredibly rewarding experience and is great for our health and wellbeing. Not only are you meeting new people, learning new skills, and gaining different experiences you are contributing to community life and building a better city for us all to live in.

Remember, you don’t have to be a registered volunteer to help in your community. Small actions like checking on neighbours can make a big difference. Consider offering them a lift to the shop, cooking them a meal, asking them if they need anything from the shop, offering a lift, or seeing if they would like some company. If you can, you could also donate to local charities or a foodbank, who are always looking for kind donations to continue supporting others.

If you are part of a community organisation in the city and need volunteers to help you reach your local residents and neighbourhood, you can post a volunteering opportunity on the Can Do Bristol website for volunteers to sign up to. 

If you need advice or guidance for yourself or someone you support, we have also launched a cost of living support hub online, providing guidance on topics such as housing, bills, benefits, employment and skills and mental health and wellbeing. Please share this webpage with others and encourage anyone who needs support to reach out.  

Together, We Are Bristol.

Securing climate investment for Bristol

We were delighted to host the 3Ci Regional Net Zero Investment Forum at City Hall earlier this month. With Global Goals Week underway, it’s an apt time to reflect on the event and our wider progress.

3Ci, Cities Commission for Climate Investment, is a partnership between Connected Places Catapult, Core Cities UK, London Councils, and other local authorities across the UK. It aims to support local authorities to secure the necessary long-term finance for achieving net zero.

Mayor Marvin Rees stands on stage, holding a microphone. Behind him, a banner reads 3Ci Cities Commission For Climate Investment
Mayor Marvin Rees

Tackling the climate crisis is a priority for Bristol and climate action is becoming more integrated within city economic recovery plans across the region. However, despite this heightened activity, the investment case for local net zero programmes and interventions is not widely developed. 

The barriers to investment are not just in the availability of finance, but more in the ability to create robust business cases and investment models. Bringing the business cases of cities and local authorities together will generate greater scale, volume, and predictability, creating a more attractive and substantial proposition for investors. Together, we have hundreds of billions of pounds of projects in need of investment, from large scale battery/solar energy to new and improved transport networks.

While we have already secured some £424 million initial private investment in Bristol’s City Leap clean energy programme, decarbonising Bristol’s economy will take around £9.5 billion so there is clearly more to do.

This regional investment forum was an early step in bringing together local government, businesses and investors to help accelerate financial flows into local net zero projects. Other similar regional events are happening in Glasgow and Birmingham this month, with a national Net Zero Summit taking place in October.

Denise Murray (centre) sits, holding a microphone. Around her, other attendees are out of focus.
Denise Murray

Our Bristol event included a discussion between Professor Greg Clark, the chair of 3Ci, and myself,  on how cities can work together to facilitate net zero finance. There were also panels with experts discussing opportunities and challenges across the region, including Denise Murray, Bristol City Council’s Director of Finance; and an overview of our approach to climate investment from Stephen Peacock, Bristol City Council’s Executive Director for Growth and Regeneration.

Local authorities and other partnerships then presented net zero projects to the attendees, including a panel of investors who gave their views on how the projects could be shaped into compelling net zero investment opportunities.

Stephen Peacock stands, speaking, at a podium. The podium sign reads: 3Ci Cities Commission for Climate Investment: Regional Net Zero Investment Forum
Stephen Peacock

200 years of St. George’s Bristol

Samir Savant smiling with his arms crossed. Wearing a blue three piece suit and glasses
Today’s blog is from Samir Savant, CEO
of St George’s [photo: Frances Marshall]

I have been CEO of St George’s Bristol since last September and have loved it so far. Everyone here is so collaborative, I want to thank Bristol for making me feel so welcome!

St George’s started life as a church in 1823, and we celebrate our 200th anniversary next year. In the 1990s we became an independent charity and vibrant venue for music and spoken word. Our famous acoustics attract artists of all genres from across the globe, and this August we hosted the first ever BBC Prom to be held in Bristol.

Only 40% of our income comes from ticket sales, so we are reliant on venue hire, hospitality and our donors for the rest. In a typical year we present 300 events reaching audiences of more than 100,000, and hundreds more through our work in local communities. 

I wanted to write more about these lesser-known projects with specific charities and community groups, as we are rightly proud of this side of our work. Through our Learning and Participation programme, we engage with hundreds of young people and families through our Mini-Beats and Wild Words events, and our partnerships with Bristol Beacon and Preludes.

Through the support of the Cavatina Trust, we give out dozens of free tickets for specific concerts to young people aged 8 – 25. We also work with young people of Somali heritage in Easton, supporting them to connect with their culture through music and drama in weekly workshops led by a Somali youth leader. 

The image shows the outside of the St. George's building, four main columns on the outside. The front of the image shows the stairs leading up to it.
St George’s Bristol [photo: Jake Janes]

A focus for us is Cosmos, our children’s singing project with young people we would not otherwise reach in Knowle West. This is a voluntary after-school choir which is non-auditioned and has been running for over 12 years. The commitment and talent of the children is incredible, and we are pleased to facilitate performance opportunities for them. Last Christmas they sang at Bristol Zoo, in previous years they have sung on the SS Great Britain, and we arrange travel so that their parents/carers can come along too.

 As someone who grew up singing, I know how important being in a choir can be, and the sense of belonging to a friendship group with a common aim at a formative age.

Our work also extends beyond music and beyond the city of Bristol. We are proud to work with a range of charity partners doing vital work across the city, including Women’s Work Lab, Prodigal Arts, Bristol Pride and Stepping Up Bristol. We offer free and discounted spaces for their events, training, and meetings as well as work placements and career guidance. 

The image shows the inside of St George's Bristol. the old church has a white roof and walls. the photo is taken looking down upon rows of chairs that are facing a stage.
The inside of St. George’s [photo: Jake Janes]

We do all of this because we genuinely believe that music matters and that listening to or taking part in music genuinely changes us for the better. The Cosmos choir is a great example of how singing can give young people skills and confidence, and there are nationwide examples of how regular, active music-making can transform educational outcomes.

Music is also vital for our health and well-being. Research conducted globally over decades has shown that listening to music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and pain as well as improve sleep quality, mood, and memory. We are working with the NHS and charities working with older people to bring live or streamed music into hospitals and care settings to help promote good mental and physical health.

For our 200th anniversary next year we will throw open the doors of St George’s to everyone and present a varied series of concerts and events, many of which will be free, welcoming all communities to our beautiful space. If you have never been to St George’s before, please visit us soon, even if it is just to spend time in our gardens, a haven of peace away from the bustle of Park Street, or to enjoy a coffee in our lovely new extension, you will be very welcome.

Supporting Bristolians with the cost of living crisis

As the national cost of living crisis continues to grow, our poorest residents are once again most impacted.

Wages and welfare payments are stagnant, while corporate profits in some sectors skyrocket. Inflation is being felt by all of us, as energy bills, fuel prices, and food costs rise. With national insurance contributions also set to rise, we know that the crisis is being experienced by many Bristolians. The price cap for energy bills is set to rise to more than £3,500 in October. Some energy industry analysts have predicted that average annual energy bills could hit £7,700 from April 2023, with the figure even higher for businesses. With 30,000 families in our city already living in fuel poverty, with even more already spending 20% or higher of their household budgets on energy.

For deprived communities, a crisis in the cost of living is not new. Families in Bristol were already over £40 million worse off at the start of the year after national government’s cuts to Universal Credit. 40,000 children in our city are growing up in poverty – a number that is set to rise. We have never accepted this reality, and won’t start now. National government urgently needs to do more to support people, particularly those who are struggling most.

In Bristol, we are continuing to try to support Bristolians wherever we can. Our new cost of living support website has all the latest information to help, as well as a handy benefits calculator, guidance about rent, and training to develop your skills if you are looking for work.

We’ve invested £1.8 million in free holiday activities and food over the summer holidays, through Your Holiday Hub, as we work to ensure that no child goes hungry in our city. We have also committed £4 million to support local community groups through our new Community Resilience Fund. And we continue to supporting over 35,000 households with up to 100% off their council tax bills through our Council Tax Reduction Scheme, worth £40 million a year. Our Local Crisis Prevention Fund is available to support people too, alongside emergency payments for items like school uniform.

For the longer term, we continue to work to make Bristol a Living Wage City, where the real Living Wage is the benchmark for all. The number of Living Wage employers in our city has increased ten-fold since we took office in 2016, and more than 5,000 workers in Bristol have had a pay rise onto at least the real Living Wage. This is also the basis of our approach to reign in high rents in our city too, as we develop a model of a “Living Rent” which is affordable and fair in our city’s large private rented sector. As we continue to bring new jobs and investment to our city, we will keep building a diverse and inclusive economy where nobody is left behind.

As we look to the colder months, we’re also developing a city-wide network of warm, “Welcoming Spaces” for people to visit so they don’t have to choose between heating and eating this winter.

Throughout the pandemic, our city has pulled together. We Are Bristol – and we need to keep supporting one another through this next crisis.

A weekend of StoryTrails in Bristol

In the foreground of the photo is Councillor Ellie King smiling, with the walls and walkway to Bristol City Hall behind her.
Today’s blog is from Cllr Ellie King, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Communities and Labour Councillor for Hillfields

StoryTrails came to Bristol this month, giving Bristolians the chance to explore untold histories of the city in a unique way. The event brought history to life in our streets and at Central Library through a range of creative augmented and virtual reality (VR) experiences. 

It was a great weekend and lovely to see the Central Library so busy, triple the number of visitors joined us compared to a typical weekend, with loads of new faces joining the library and taking out books for the first time. 

StoryTrails taught participants about unique historical stories through a variety of different experiences, these included: 

  • Using VR headsets in the Holden Foyer showing a choice of films to experience, immersing people in history from punk to South Asian cuisine  
  • Viewing the film created by Bristol producer and StoryMapper Marcus Smith, made from thousands of 3D scans and film interviews, uncovering local and community histories in Bristol on 5 metre curved 360o screen in the library café 
  • Creating avatars (a 3D version of yourself) using the free Scaniverse app and LiDar technology on iPads to create augmented reality photos, which were printed out for people to take home on a postcard. 
  • Setting off on guided augmented reality walking tours around Bristol, led by actors and the Bristol TrailMaker Lucy Fulford to explore the history of the SweetMart in Easton and stories from the South Asian Ugandan community in Bristol. 
The image shows a group of participants watching one of the many films telling the story's of Bristol and Britain. The crowd are at the bottom of the image with a big curving projector in front of them.

The walking tour is still available to download for free on the StoryTrails app and includes six stops around the centre of Bristol. Scan locations in the city with the camera on your phone or device and watch video clips and audio extracts projected onto your screen. The whole tour takes about an hour 30 minutes to complete. 

I want to thank the Central Library team for making it happen and the extra members of library staff drafted in that helped with the smooth running of the event on the day. A special thanks goes to our StoryTrails library staff ambassadors – who were all brilliant and are now expert 3D scanners!  

As part of the legacy of the project, StoryTrails are gifting the library VR headsets and Google handsets to run their own AR walking tours, extra iPads and mini printers for photo postcard printing, so they will be hosting more events and running more 3D scanning sessions in branch libraries across Bristol.  

Bristol’s Clean Air Zone launches in 3 months

The photo shows Bristol's clean air zone signs. The grey sign has a circle emblem at the top, with a half green half white cloud with the letter D. Red text boxes below read Bristol Clean Air Zone, Coming soon, charges will apply. CleanAirForBristol.org, underneath is a white sign showing there are cameras nearby.

This week we have reached an important milestone: three months to go until the launch of Bristol’s Clean Air Zone on 28 November. Its introduction will be another big step forward on our journey to creating a healthier city with cleaner air for all.

We’ve sought to introduce Bristol’s Clean Air Zone in a way that protects the most deprived households in our city as well as our trades and businesses. That is why we’ve secured over £42 million to support the switch to cleaner vehicles, alongside wider support with the national cost of living crisis.

I also know that many people will need more time to prepare for the zone which is why we’re offering temporary exemptions to help make this change easier. I’m pleased to announce that the government have agreed to our request to extend the temporary exemption period until the end of March 2023. Applications for exemptions will open in late September.

We’re helping Bristol’s businesses and residents prepare for the zone with our financial support schemes. Almost three-quarters of drivers won’t be charged because their vehicles already meet emissions standards, and many businesses have already upgraded their fleets to cleaner vehicles.

Grants and interest free loans are currently on offer to help you upgrade to a vehicle that won’t be charged in the zone. This doesn’t have to be a brand new or electric vehicle – it can be second hand as long as it meets the zone’s emissions standards.

If you are impacted, there is still time to apply for financial support. I would urge anyone affected to get in touch with our team today to find out how we can help you. You can find out more about financial support on our website.

As well as transitioning to cleaner vehicles, we want to encourage Bristol residents to switch to more sustainable modes of travel. We’ve secured over £5.9 million of support to help make this a reality.

Our free travel offers include bike and e-bike trials, cycle training, VOI e-Scooter credit, bus tickets, and planning sessions with travel experts to help people explore all their options for their regular journeys. These offers are a great opportunity for people in Bristol to try out new ways of travelling that are better for their health, wellbeing, and the environment too. Anyone who lives or works in Bristol is eligible to receive the free offers and can apply on our website now.

If you haven’t already, check whether your vehicle will be charged and visit the council website to find out how we can help you upgrade your vehicle or try a different way of travelling.

We know that Clean Air Zones are successful at tackling air pollution. One year after launching their zone, our neighbours in Bath have seen nitrogen dioxide concentrations reduced by 21 per cent inside the zone and a 22 per cent reduction in the urban area outside the zone. Bristol is introducing the same class of Clean Air Zone as Birmingham. In one year, nitrogen dioxide levels within their zone have dropped by an average of 13% compared to pre-covid levels.

Hannover, Bordeaux and Bristol

Deputy Mayor Asher Craig takes up the centre of the image smiling. She is wearing a green and yellow headdress, with a green and blue stripped Blazer and white t-shirt. She has a multicoloured necklace around her neck and matching earrings. In the background you can see a building that's blurred. There is a bush below the building.
Today’s blog is from deputy mayor Asher Craig

The Haitian Uprising of 1791, in Saint Domingue, played a crucial role in the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade. In memory, 23 August marks the UN’s International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition, providing a focus for collective remembrance and consideration of the legacy of the atrocity and how it impacts today’s world.

This past year city representatives including myself and Mayor Marvin Rees have been working hard to support the dialogue and learning from Bristol’s role in the trans-atlantic slave trade, including through the Bristol History Commission, the Legacy Steering Group, and publishing  Project Truth to help inform how the city responds and moves forward.

Alongside this and to help inform both our own learning and that of two of our twin cities,  Bordeaux and Hannover, with whom we mark our 75th twinning anniversary this year, I have been privileged to visit both and pay respect to the victims of slavery and remember our cities’ roles in the trans-atlantic slave trade.

In May, a small delegation from Bristol, including myself, Professor Olivette Otele, a historian of slavery and memory of enslavement; Sado Jirde, Director of Black South West Network; Dr Mena Fombo, a Bristol International Ambassador, entrepreneur, film director and global speaker on diversity and inclusion; and Dr Emmanuel Adukwu, Deputy Head of the Department of Applied Sciences at the University of the West of England, were invited to take part in Bordeaux Slavery Memory Week.

The image shows the group standing together in a line smiling in front of a statue in the Bordeaux government buildings. From left to right is the film director and global speaker on diversity and inclusion, the Bristol International Ambassador, Deputy Mayor Asher Craig, Sado Jirde, Dr Mena Fombo. A statue sits in the centre of the phot just above the group, in a little gap in the wall. On the left of the image you can see the grand building with huge windows.
Deputy Mayor Asher Craig is pictured with other members of the Bristol delegation in Bordeaux

As a fellow port city, also actively involved in the slave trade, they have embedded learning about the city’s slave history in a way Bristol can actively learn from. All Bordeaux school children join a targeted education programme outlining history of enslavement, as well as a memorial garden, trail, and permanent museum exhibition.

Last week I was invited to Hannover to take part in a wide programme of events to mark our 75th twinning anniversary, including a signing of a shared Memorandum of Agreement for future collaboration and panel discussions including one as part of the recent opening of the jointly Hannover/Bristol curated ‘About Golden Carriages and colonial past – Hannover, England and Slavery’ at their Historical Museum.

The image shows Deputy Mayor Asher Craig on the right, wearing a blue headdress and top. She is discussing with a man, wearing a blue suit that takes up the left of the image. In between them is a painting, displaying a gold chariot.
Deputy Mayor, Asher Craig in Hannover

It was an opportunity to share more about the work of the History Commission and Legacy Steering group as they also explore their own role in the colonial past and how we can jointly work together on this and other shared priorities to achieve a better and more informed future for all our citizens.

I was also honoured to be able to see the culmination of Bristol’s Youth RISE Dance group’s collaboration project with FZH Linden Hannover with a performance representing human rights at the ceremony marking our 75th twinning anniversary at Hannover City Hall which was  powerful and moving.

We would like to give our thanks to both Hannover and Bordeaux City Councils, City Partners, our Twinning Associations, the French Foreign Ministry for facilitating these special visits, and all those who we met and engaged with as part of the programme. It was a chance to share experiences, find solutions to common problems and support each other in achieving our goals.

Events to commemorate the 75th twinning anniversary with Bordeaux, as well as Hannover, are taking place throughout the year. More information about the events can be found on the Visit West website.

Our exhibition: Our Stories, Our Journey

A photo of Jasmine Coe, in front of a white head band. She is standing with her arms crossed with a smile on her face. She is wearing a reflective brown top with necklace and other jewellery. She is also wearing a orange patterned headband.
Today’s blog is by Jasmine Coe, Founder
and Curator at Coe Gallery

‘Our Stories, Our Journey’ was our first exhibition as Coe Gallery, the UK’s first Aboriginal owned gallery. The artists’ works explored themes of connection to land, culture and identity and I feel the impact of the exhibition has been quietly profound. The conversations that I have engaged in or overheard in the gallery have allowed space for thought, planting a seed of contemplation.

Reflecting on the feedback, I’ve felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude, cultural pride and appreciation, for both artists and visitors. It was a joy to be able to curate the exhibition and hang the works of emerging Aboriginal artists, some of whose work has never been seen before in the UK and receptively, given some of our 500 visitors had never-before seen Aboriginal art.

A consistent theme within the artworks was the artist’s messages of love for land, nature and the need for connection which sang through the gallery at such a vibration it moved some visitors to tears.

The image shows four of the paintings on display at the Vestibules. A brown brick wall is covered in 4 pieces of art, on the left is the largest piece that takes up the height of the wall in shot on it's own. Then on the right 3 images sit one under the other. The first image on the left is split in two, with one side being black with white lines and the other a light brown creating an effect like sand dunes. The top image on the right has black trimmings with white dots and grey smudges. The middle painting is black dots among a white background with black trimmings. The final image is a pattern of black lines on a white background creating a visual effect with black trimmings on the outside.
Some of the artwork on display at The Vestibules

“I am so touched by being part of (an) enriching and thought provoking art… Coe Gallery has brought to us an element of reflection that we are all connected… Interbeing and reflective about who we all are and where we all come from. All education has a power and so does this exhibition. We can see unseen, we can touch untouched, we hear what is not heard. Symbolic and really grounding.”

One of the aims of the exhibition was to encourage connection – to land or self. Bristol has been the perfect place in the UK to facilitate these conversations of cultural exchange and change. As a result of the 2020 BLM movement in Bristol, I have found it has encouraged people to start listening to each other and hearing other sides of history that have been lesser told. Because of this, I believe there is space in Bristol for the Indigenous experiences of Australia’s Traditional Owners to be heard.

Despite the colonial narrative that continues to override  our Indigenous experiences, Bristol embraced our stories. Thank you to those that came for having an open mind and heart. What I have learnt from this exhibition is that we all individually long for connection and a sense of belonging. I believe that to belong, we have a responsibility to care for the place that we all equally belong to, our global home – our earth. Aboriginal culture has survived and thrived in harmony with the land for over 60,000 years. The knowledge and lessons in sustainability is essential in bringing back balance to our planet as we face the devastating impacts of a changing climate.

Thank you to  the Mayor and the Vestibules for flying the Aboriginal flag outside City Hall, acknowledging Aboriginal Australians and amplifying our messages that we as people are still here and, have always been here. Thank you, too, to Bristol University and Bridging Histories for supporting our first exhibition. Going forward, Coe Gallery will continue putting on pop up exhibitions and working towards offering artist residencies, inviting Aboriginal artists to come to Bristol and participate in meaningful cultural exchange.

Results day is here!

Cast your mind back to around this time two years ago, August 2020.

Students across the country had just received their GCSE results after the biggest disruption to these exams since their start in 1988. The COVID-19 pandemic had thrown everything up in the air and didn’t just end the students’ last year in secondary school three months early, but also cancelled their GCSE exams and replaced their results with teacher assessed grades.

Despite the disruption and the uncertainty of what their future might look like, some of those students went on to study for their A-levels, T-Levels, and BTecs.

Today, those young people are receiving their results and it is a momentous day! Not only because they are finding out how they did, but because today marks the end of two challenging years.

Since they started preparing for their next steps, we have been in two more lockdowns, one of which involved home schooling for two months. Both lockdowns were an adjustment for students, parents and carers as well as their teachers. Due to their GCSE exams being cancelled, this was also the first time most had sat public examinations since they were in Year 6. It had been a difficult time and we hope students recognise the challenges they have had to overcome. Getting through the last two years is an achievement in itself, and they should be proud of themselves.

So, a big congratulations to those receiving their results today! I wish them all the best for whatever it is they plan to do next.

If you know someone who didn’t get the results they were hoping for or they need help or advice around exam results and next steps, contact the National Careers Service Exam Results Helpline on 0800 100 900. The free helpline is now open from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, and 10am to 5pm on Saturdays. For mental health support and information, please visit www.youngminds.org.uk.

There is information available about Post 16 pathways and options on the Post 16 Participation website www.bristolesl.com/bristolpost16. Or you can contact Bristol City Council’s Post 16 Participation team on post16participation@bristol.gov.uk or 0117 352 5750.

The Post 16 Participation team are also running an event on Wednesday 31 August from 1-3:30pm at The Station on Silver Street (BS1 2AG), where attendees can get advice on what to do next and join in with CV and interview skills workshops. More information: www.bristolesl.com/bristolpost16/2022/08/step-to-future-post-exam-result-event/.

I would like to end on a note about where we are at now in August 2022.

All COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted; we are now living with the virus. However, just because life is back to normal for most, it doesn’t mean that we have seen the end of the impact that the pandemic has had on the education of our young people. Recognising what today means is a demonstration of this.

It is easy for us, adults, to forget this, and I ask as we move on with our everyday lives that we remember the lasting impact and challenges that the pandemic has had on our children and young people, and that we continue to support them following these difficult times.

Launching ‘Keep Bristol Cool’

Heatwaves

An overview image of Bristol Harbour, with building covering the centre and left side of the image. On the right of the image the harbour sits with the sun reflecting of the surface, with boats lining the dock and one boat going through the water. In the background the sun clears through the skies with a silhouette of the hills in the background
Bristol Harbour with the sun setting

This summer we have witnessed record-breaking hot weather in the UK. We saw the first red weather warning for extreme heat, with temperatures reaching record high of 36 degrees locally. Throughout the last week we had another official amber warning of extreme heat with temperatures consistently in the mid-30s.

Heatwaves are becoming more frequent and intense, creating unique challenges for cities such as Bristol. Urban heat risks affect everything from health to the environment, transport to telecommunications, as well as creating increased demand for cool places.

Bristol is responding to these challenges through innovation. After becoming the first city in the UK to declare climate and ecological emergencies, we are leading the way in decarbonising our city, reducing Bristol’s emissions by over 40% since 2005. Keep Bristol Cool is the next pioneering tool to help our city become more climate resilient.

Keep Bristol Cool

Keep Bristol Cool is our new mapping tool that highlights which areas of our city are most vulnerable to extreme heat.

The mapping tool was made possible by the UK Climate Resilience Programme and Met Office Urban Climate Service team.

We are the first city in the UK to develop an online tool of this kind, using data on current heat vulnerability and climate change to explore where heatwaves could have the biggest impact on people’s health and wellbeing.

The tool allows users to explore how heat vulnerability varies from neighbourhood to neighbourhood by bringing together information on population, homes, and local environment. Climate maps explore how the number of warm nights and hot days are predicted to change over the next twenty years and beyond.

We’ve worked to refine this tool to see how it could help protect vulnerable people during heatwaves, support the development of green infrastructure strategies, make homes less likely to overheat, and aid the longer-term growth and regeneration of the city.

The image shows the Keep Bristol Cool Mapping Tool, the image on the left shows the wards of Bristol with different shades of red used as the key for the different figures. On the right the text reads Heat Vulnerability Index, A combination of Age, Deprivation, Indoor and Outdoor heat vulnerability factors. Dark red very high risk for Bristol 211-263, less dark red High risk for Bristol 158-210, lesser red, low risk for Bristol 53-105, very low risk for Bristol 1-52.
The new Keep Bristol Cool mapping tool

Innovating resilience

The mapping tool is a key step in Bristol’s resilience journey. A framework will follow that builds on the commitments set out in the One City Climate Strategy to become a climate resilient city by 2030: Setting out a programme of work that builds our resilience to higher temperatures and heatwaves across key areas including city planning, emergency planning, housing and the natural environment.

Working together

To reach our climate goals by 2030 and to safeguard the city against extreme heat, our city needs to work together. The Keep Bristol Cool mapping tool will offer service-providers, businesses and organisations across the city the opportunity to use this tool to help with their future planning.

We want to share this work and approach with other cities in the UK, we will work with closely with colleagues at the Local Government Association City and Regions board, improving the resilience of the UK to deal with extreme weather events and long-term trends in our city planning.

Bristol Climate Action

This year’s record-breaking temperatures have made many of us feel more anxious about the climate and ecological emergencies that we face. There are examples of Bristol residents who are making changes to their lives On Bristol Climate Hub, take a look and learn about their inspiring stories.

You can also donate to the Tree Crowd Funder – to help us double Bristol’s tree canopy – which will provide valuable shade in years to come.