Author Archives: marvinjrees

Bristol Financial Resilience Action Group: Hargreaves Lansdown

Jack Hall, responsible business manager at Hargreaves Lansdown, smiling.
Today’s guest blog is from Jack Hall, Responsible Business Manager
at Hargreaves Lansdown

In 2023, Hargreaves Lansdown are launching Bristol Financial Resilience Action Group, aimed at making Bristol the most financially resilient city in the UK and providing employers with the tools they need to help their employees who are struggling financially. The free initiative brings together employers, from a variety of industries across the city, to work towards a shared vision and mission of ensuring the community they exist in thrives.

The work stems from Hargreaves Lansdown’s leading research into Financial Resilience, our Savings and Resilience Barometer. This analysis scores households up and down the country for their financial resilience across five key areas: controlling their debt, protecting their family, rainy day savings, planning for later life, and investing to make more of their money.

The results show a mixed bag across the nation with, for example, as many as one in three households not having enough cash in the bank to cover three months of their essential spending, and only four in ten households being on track for a moderate retirement income, with a similar proportion with adequate protection for their family if they pass away. 

Overall, Bristol stacks up a little better than the nation as a whole but there is huge room for improvement to make us more financially resilient.

A table shows figures comparing Bristol to the national average on 5 different factors. These factors include Control Your Debt, Protect Your Family, Rainy Day Savings, Plan for Later Life, and invest.

When we initially launched the work in January 2022 we posed the question, what can Hargreaves Lansdown do to help? The idea of Bristol Financial Resilience Action Group was born. The initiative encourages employers to sign up to 3 commitments through the action group:

  1. Financial education for employees: a free financial education guide created by Hargreaves Lansdown providing foundational knowledge distributed amongst colleagues
  2. A set of 6 internal initiatives: a series of aspirational initiatives we are recommending that employers implement if they do not do so already. These include incentivising pension contributions to 12%, sorting payroll errors within one week, and increasing sick pay above statutory minimum
  3. Financial resilience webinars: a free course of 12 webinars (one per month) covering financial education ranging from understanding debt, saving for a rainy day, understanding your pension, and investments.
A chart shows three commitments from the Bristol Financial Resilience Action Group. These are: Financial Resilience Webinars, Financial Education, and Internal Initiatives.

The objective of this initiative is to bring together employers from a range of industries and sectors, utilising each other’s skills and expertise, to raise the overall level of financial resilience in Bristol. This fits with the One City approach, bringing together a range of people, demographics, ideas, motivations, skills, and experience. The programme aims to consolidate the movement towards improved financial resilience in Bristol, and consequently people’s ability to respond to society wide and individual crises.

At the time of writing, 14 employers have signed up, totalling over 15,000 employees in the city. The prerequisite to be part of the programme is to be a Bristol based employer or have a large employee presence in Bristol.

The programme officially launches on the 11 May at Hargreaves Lansdown with Chris Hill, CEO of Hargreaves Lansdown, and Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, speaking before by a series of roundtable discussions. Bristol Financial Resilience Action Group has lofty ambitions to grow, perhaps becoming an accreditation whereby employers can be proud that they have ‘financial resilient employer’ status: signifying they have a commitment both to financial education for their employees but also a series of internal structures that aid their financial resilience.

At a time where we seem to swing from one crisis to another, that inevitably tests our finances, the need for this action group will not diminish. If you are an employer interested in the programme, please complete this form.

A new chapter for Jacobs Wells Baths

A graphic with Jacob Wells Baths building in the foreground. The Mayor of Bristol's logo is top left of the image. In the top right of the image, text reads: Chance For Community To Transform The Former Jacobs Wells Baths.

At the turn of the year, with costs rising, Fusion Lifestyle decided to withdraw from their project at Jacobs Wells Baths. They had planned to restore the swimming pool as part of a leisure, dance and arts, and community centre. We shared the disappointment of local people, as it has always been our ambition to see this Grade II listed building, first opened in 1889, and asset of community value restored to its former glory and back in active use.

Councillor Craig Cheney is pictured, smiling.
This blog is by Councillor Craig Cheney, Deputy Mayor for Finance, Governance, Performance, and Culture, and Labour Councillor for Hillfields.

Our administration created the time to consider next steps for the site by deferring officer proposals to dispose of it – removing it from the list of other surplus council-owned properties which we have decided to sell on the open market. In the meantime, we have received some initial expressions of interest from a few parties, sharing their ideas for the future of the site on Jacob’s Wells Road.

Having considered their submissions with the property team and the Mayor’s Office, including the beginnings of funding plans, and after visiting the site, we have decided to open up a public expressions of interest process to formally select a preferred bidder to transform the former baths.

Organisations will have until 9am on Tuesday 2 May to send us an outline of their viable proposals (short of a fully-costed and detailed business plan). These will be scored out of 60 by the Community Asset Transfer board using the following criteria:

  • Track record of managing community assets and understanding of all legislation applicable to managing the building (10);
  • Financial viability of the proposal: capital, future revenue streams, running costs (10);
  • Ability to preserve and restore a prominent, historic, listed building (10);
  • Clear vision for the building (5);
  • Range and level of local community and social benefits (5);
  • Ability to engage the diverse communities that make up Bristol (5);
  • Ability to make a significant contribution to the arts, culture and leisure offer in Bristol (5);
  • Capacity and capability to manage the asset to a high standard (5);
  • Track record and commitment to working in partnership (5).
The interior of Jacobs Wells Baths is pictured, showing some of the rotten floor pulled up and holes in the ceiling.

Interested parties can see from the previous guide to the site, and other documents from when we undertook a full Community Asset Transfer process in 2017, that the site remains in need of significant work. The former dance studio’s floor is rotting, and the roof in particular needs a lot of attention.

To submit an expression of interest, ask to visit the site, or enquire for further information, please contact

Investing in Bristol’s infrastructure

Councillor Donald Alexander, smiling with trees and College Green in the background.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Donald Alexander, Cabinet member for Transport and Labour Councillor for Avonmouth and Lawrence Weston.

Keeping Bristol’s roads in good condition is essential to create a well-connected city, that is easy for people to travel around. That’s why I’m pleased that the council is investing over £9 million to continue our important highways improvement work and help keep the city moving.

We’ve secured over £8 million from the Combined Authority to carry out essential maintenance and deliver transport schemes, and we’ve allocated a further £1 million towards these projects.

This work will help to drive growth and productivity in the city by improving highways connections, ensuring that everyone in Bristol can get to where they need to go. Part of this package includes the Pothole Action Fund, which totals £1.4 million for important road repairs and surfacing works.

I know that potholes are a pain for any for any road user, so I’m happy to share more detail about how we’re taking action before potholes become a problem.

What have we done so far to reduce potholes?

Our teams work hard throughout the year to keep our road surfaces in good condition, making sure that Bristol’s streets and footways are safe for everyone to use. Between 2016/17 and 2021/22 the number of potholes on Bristol’s roads were reduced from 4649 to 1838, this is a 60% decrease. Over the last 12 months, the highways team have repaired over 2,500 potholes on our roads, footpaths, and bridges and we’ve averaged an impressive 691 total defect repairs each month.

This is vital to ensuring our streets are safe and accessible for all road users, to prevent accidents and make sure journeys are pleasant for everyone whether walking, cycling, or driving.

But despite this great progress, I know that keeping our roads healthy is a constant undertaking that’s made harder in the winter months when the weather is worse and challenged further by historic under-investment both locally and nationally.

The funding we have secured for highways works will help us face this challenge head on and ensure the people of Bristol have the safe roads that they need.

Tackling the problem early

We take a preventative approach to maintaining our streets to make sure that we carry out repair works at an early opportunity to avoid the state of the road surface from worsening further. This is recognised as industry best practice and can also reduce the carbon emissions involved in highways maintenance.

We collate reports of potholes and road defects received by members of the public as well as analysis from detailed surveys and inspections carried out by staff. Issues that have the risk of deteriorating if left untouched are prioritised for repair first to prevent further damage.

Over the next year, work will be carried out to repair road or path surfaces that have been damaged by busy traffic and wear. Weak spots will be strengthened to manage structural issues in the road surface ahead of surface dressing where the road is sprayed with a hot, tar-like material called bitumen and will then covered with stone chippings and rolled flat.

Anyone can report a pothole or any other road damage on our website to help us fix it. So, if there is a pothole problem on your street, I would encourage you to report it as soon as possible.

The Spring Budget and the Cost of Living Crisis

The impacts of the cost of living crisis will continue to be felt beyond this winter. Nationally, the latest data shows the number of households where children are experiencing food insecurity has doubled in the last year, with an additional 2 million households falling into fuel poverty over the same period.

In Bristol, the cost of living has been most intensely felt by households in deprived areas; our annual Quality of Life survey revealed that 16% of respondents from deprived areas had experienced some form of food insecurity in the last 12 months, compared with 8% across Bristol. With prices set to steadily rise throughout 2023, we’re continuing to work across the council and with partners to provide the local support that people need.

Our collective response to the cost of living – just as it was for the pandemic – has shown the best of Bristol. I’m grateful to our voluntary and community sector who we’ve worked with to establish a network of around 95 Welcoming Spaces across the city. Our One City approach to taking on the challenge has recently been highlighted by the Local Government Association. Our funding of Community Hubs and advice services has ensured that Bristolians have been connected and well informed during the winter period.

We’ve worked hard to target government supported funding and our local discretionary fund to those who would benefit the most. Since April 2022, we have supported 22,000 school children with food vouchers throughout the holidays, awarded 660 Discretionary Housing Payments and supported over 6,200 emergency payments and household goods awards through the Local Crisis Prevention Fund. We’re developing plans for the next round of the Household Support Fund with the likes of WECIL, Bristol Age UK, Feeding Bristol and the Centre for Sustainable Energy to make sure our funding goes further.

I’m proud of the way Bristol’s communities, businesses and organisations have come together to offer support to people who have reached crisis point during the last year, but it’s clear that these responses have only become necessary because of the government’s sustained underfunding of public services and lack of any long-term ambition to tackle poverty and inequality.

As the latest figures on food and fuel poverty show, the government cannot assume that the worst of the cost of living is over. We are calling on the government to use Wednesday’s Spring Budget to continue to protect those households and communities who are most impacted by increased costs. I want to publicly support the following asks of government:

These interventions would cost a small amount to government but would give people much needed stability and protection, and would make a long-term difference to the number of people who require more costly interventions from the NHS or homelessness services. In Bristol we will continue to build a city of hope to people who find themselves in crisis, but we’re calling on government to do more to prevent people from reaching that point in the first place.

One Front Door: supporting Bristolians into work or training

Councillor Asher Craig, smiling, with trees in the background.
This guest blog is from Councillor Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor for Children Services, Education, and Equalities and Labour Councillor for St George West ward.

This week at Cabinet we invested another almost £700,000 in One Front Door, our employment support service. Led by the Employment, Skills and Learning team, we will continue to fill gaps in employment support, enabling us to help many more people and businesses in the city.

From the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, we have been strengthening our citywide partnerships and employer networks to provide this vital service. Helping local people start work for the first time, get back into employment or to begin apprenticeships and other work-based qualifications.

The One Front Door service has given people much needed access to training opportunities, personalised advice, practical help from careers coaches as well as offering guidance to employers to help them network and fill their vacancies.

Since starting, One Front Door has helped over 700 local people with help tailored to their needs. This includes 218 people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, 94 young people aged 18-24, 144 people over 50, 155 people with mental health issues, 11 care leavers, and 40 homeless people. In addition to this, over a hundred laptops have been given out through our digital inclusion scheme to help people train and apply for jobs. With over 28 job fairs taking place and the team attending over 53 other events, support has spread all over Bristol, providing thousands of local people with links to potential employers, resulting in over 1,500 job interviews and 700 jobs.

The Lord Mayor is pictured, in the middle of staff from One Front Door. They are at a campaign event at the galleries.

An example of someone who has worked with the service is Iryna. She arrived here from Ukraine and is one of 82 Ukrainian refugees who have registered with One Front Door. She found out about the support offered at a Ukrainian hub in the city and worked with one of our career progression coaches to find employment. Together they reviewed her CV and went through various courses, apprenticeships and events of interest. Iryna went to local job fairs to talk directly to employers, and also helped other attendees on the day by translating for them. Following the support and guidance she received from the team, Iryna has now started working at Co-Op and is receiving further support from our Future Bright programme (providing in-work support) to develop her career further. Iryna was also referred to Wheels for Work which has helped her with travel costs getting to work.

One Front Door also works in tandem with Ways2Work, where employers and training providers keep us up to date with all the opportunities that are currently available so we can share them with the hundreds of people already linked into our network. If you would like to join them, you can sign up to receive the emails on our website.

The success of the service so far has made a real difference and we are happy that unemployment levels have fallen in the city overall, but we still need to do more. This additional grant funding, secured from the combined authority, will help us focus efforts on our more disadvantaged communities and on people directly and disproportionately impacted by the current cost of living crisis.

Bristol's Lord Mayor is pictured cutting ribbon for the launch of One Front Door.

One great addition and new for 2023 is Bristol Launchpad, based on the ground floor of the Galleries. This new facility provides a one-stop-shop for anyone in Bristol looking for jobs, training or to become self-employed. Through a partnership of Bristol City Council, City of Bristol College, the Department of Work and Pensions, and the National Careers Service, you can access meeting rooms, hot desks and training facilities to help make your dreams of getting the perfect job, or running your own business, a reality. If you could benefit from a chat with the team, give them a call on 0117 9223440 or fill out an online form at the bottom of the One Front Door website to contact one of our career coaches

Celebrating International Women’s Day in Bristol

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

International Women’s Day is such an important event in our calendar and one we support both here at the council and alongside many of our partners across the city. In order to meet our ambition of making Bristol truly inclusive, fair and equitable for all, people shouldn’t be disadvantaged or discriminated against because of their gender.

To help celebrate this year, we are delighted once again to be supporting a great free event at City Hall on Saturday 11 March. Led by Bristol Women’s Voice and supported by other organisations, the event will see speakers, activities and workshops going on throughout the day. There will also be a creche, with access to transport and translators available to help make participating and enjoying the day and all that is on offer as easy as possible.

The theme this year is to #EmbraceEquity. In Bristol, we want to be a city leading the way both on equality and equity while also creating somewhere that is safe for all who live, visit, or work here.

We have been working hard to make progress in a number of key areas.

Since 2017, any UK organisation employing 250 or more employees must report publicly each year on its gender pay gap measuring the difference between men and women’s average salaries. We report monthly on the gender pay gap and most recently it shows a fall in both the mean pay for men higher than that of women at 3.87 per cent and median pay for men higher than women at currently 8.99 per cent. At the moment, I’m pleased to say the City Council has the lowest pay gap amongst local Public Sector employers but we will of course keep working until it is closed completely.

Safety at Night for women is also a priority, shared with a number of organisations, including Avon and Somerset Police. Last year we published our own Women’s Safety Charter. This is a citywide call to action to make sure women are safe in Bristol at night, whether living, working, visiting, or studying in the city. This has led to some excellent work with the universities, especially focused on safety for new students when they first come to Bristol.

Also as part of this year’s International Women’s Day events, Bristol Women’s Voice are partnering with SARSAS and The Green House to organise a march through the city, leaving College Green at 5pm on Saturday, to highlight the amazing work these organisations do with people who have experienced domestic and sexual violence.

We also want to see more women in leadership positions, and we have an award-winning programme called Stepping Up which aims to do just that. They look to unlock potential and develop talent ensuring a fair representation of women as leaders, as well as progressing Disabled people and people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds too. Stepping Up can help you learn new skills, develop your network, and make the next step of your career in leadership. If this sounds of interest, there is still time to apply for the next round as applications remain open until 20 March.

As well as the march, the event on Saturday will feature lots of workshops, such as the poetry workshop using creative writing to explore how we age and the concept of becoming stronger and wiser as we get older. Another area of discussion as women get older is the approach to the menopause. Whilst some of the taboos around talking about the menopause have disappeared, some still exist, so to help document the different experiences locally, Healthwatch is asking for people to fill in their menopause survey. This will offer more information about the support and treatment that is available locally. If you can spare a few minutes please let Healthwatch know your thoughts and experiences.

Come and join us on Saturday, if you can. There will be something there for everyone, and if you can’t be there this year, can we just wish you a Happy International Women’s Day, celebrating the role of women in our city – and beyond!

Community-Led Housing in Barton Hill

Ruth Pickersgil (Left) and Abdullahi Farah (Right) from Bristol Somali Resource Centre are pictured in front of the former Tenants’ Hall building.
Today’s guest blog is from Ruth Pickersgill (left) and Abdullahi Farah (right), from Bristol Somali Resource Centre

The former Tenants’ Hall in Avonvale Road has stood empty for years. It is unsafe, covered in ivy and surrounded by rubbish (but a perfect home for a few bats who will be provided with alternative accommodation before the demolition takes place). This historic building has a proud history of being the Barton Hill Tenants Association Social Club, providing a place of safety and solidarity for the local community.

After the club closed, the site was taken back by the Council. It subsequently became clear that the building was in such a poor state of repair with collapsed floors etc., that it had to be demolished. This will happen in the next few months once planning permission has been secured. However, soon the site will be brought back to life by the community, for the community.

The Mayor’s Visit

Mayor Marvin Rees and Councillor Tom Renhard, Cabinet Lead for Housing, were invited to the former Tenants’ Hall site on Friday by the Bristol Somali Resource Centre (BSRC) staff and trustees, to hear about their exciting vision for its future. BSRC has campaigned for many years for more community space in Barton Hill, led by the enthusiasm of trustee Samira Musse, (who also runs the Barton Hill Activity Club) and is constantly looking for places for their children to meet in the holidays). The proposed development of the site will include a multi-use community space for local groups on the ground floor, (probably with a café and outdoor space), with social housing flats above (local homes for local people on the Housing Register).

A photo of Tenants Hall building, in Barton Hill.

Key Partnerships will make it happen

This is only becoming a reality due to a unique set of partnerships, and the commitment and vision of local people. Nothing would have happened without the proactive support and facilitation of the administration and Council officers, who secured a grant from the Brownfield Land Release Fund to bring a number of difficult sites around the city back into use for housing, and to meet the costs of the demolition of the building. They then embarked on a competitive process which has led to BSRC being the ‘preferred bidder’ for a long- term lease on the land. Initial design work was funded through a grant that the Council secured through the Local Government Association Housing Advisers Programme, which allowed us to ‘match make’ architects to community led housing projects.

While BSRC have a proven track record in advice and community work, we are just starting out in housing development so have needed dependable partners who understand our vision. We have been so lucky to be supported by Bristol Community Land Trust at every stage, advising and levering in the funding and expertise we need. We are also partnering with one50studio architects to develop the designs, ensuring sustainability and local needs will be central.

Community-Led Housing model is leading the way

Everyone knows we have a housing crisis in the city. As well as building new homes, including social and affordable housing, it’s important that we also think about the needs of communities. This is where community-led housing initiatives should be leading the way. Not only can this model deliver what local people want and need, but, as in this case, it can ensure the land is owned by the community in the long term, and so its future is secure.  

A group picture with Mayor Marvin Rees (third from the right) and Councillor Tom Renhard (fourth from the left) outside the former Tenants’ Hall building.

Developing the Vision into Reality

What is exciting about this development is that it is really is ‘community-led’. Supported by the Black South West Network and our other partners, BSRC have organised a number of consultation events and surveys to find out what local people want, and there is now a steering group to move us into the more detailed stage of the design process. It is really important we recognise the history of the former Tenants’ Hall. The Barton Hill History Group will be  preserving key artefacts  and we aim for the new build to be in keeping with the character of the local area.

The next stage will be to create the funding strategy and business plan and to identify a Housing Association to work with us to deliver the homes we desperately need in the area- so watch this space as our vision becomes a reality.

Ending homelessness in Bristol

Councillor Tom Renhard, smiling, with trees on College Green in the background.
This blog is from Councillor
Tom Renhard, Cabinet Member
for Housing Delivery and Homes.

People rough sleeping is the most visible form of homelessness, but we know that this is only a small part of the problem. Ultimately one person living on our streets is one too many and we will keep doing everything we can to work with people to help them turn their lives around and find a home to call their own. We remain committed to ending rough sleeping and building a city where nobody is left behind.

Figures published today suggest that the number of people sleeping rough in Bristol has fallen by around 15% in the last year. Nationally, having soared over the last decade, the figure is 3,069.

During the official annual count that took place last November, 58 people were found to be sleeping on the streets, down from 68 in 2021. We also know that during our own counts that take place throughout the year, the figure fluctuates. During the pandemic, additional support from government helped see the figure fall to around 20 – 80% down on earlier years.

While I am pleased to see that our continued efforts to support people who are rough sleeping has reduced the numbers sleeping on the streets, we are aware that there is still a constant flow of people ending up homeless, with many blockages to getting individuals back off the streets.

We receive a number of funding strands from government every year, including the Homelessness Prevention Grant, the Rough Sleeping Initiative (RSI), and the Rough Sleeping Accommodation Programme (RSAP), but the short-term nature of these pots makes it difficult for us to plan for the long term.

Cost of living crisis

Despite the drop in the number of people recorded as sleeping on the streets, we know that the national housing crisis is inextricably linked with the current national cost of living crisis. Many people face difficult choices of whether to heat or eat. Households across Bristol are struggling to afford to keep a roof over their heads, and we now face a perfect storm of spiralling rents and rising bills that threatens to push many towards the brink of homelessness.

Without significant government investment and positive movements in national policy, the levels of people reporting as homeless and ending up rough sleeping risks rising due to the pressure of rising bills and costs, coupled with the lack of affordable move on accommodation.

We remain committed to making sure as many people as possible do not return to, or end up on, the streets, but really need more long-term financial support from government, especially if we want to reduce the number of people housed in emergency accommodation.

In Bristol we have more than 19,000 households on our waiting list for social housing, along with over 1,200 households in temporary accommodation. House prices are beyond the means of most Bristolians, rent rises continue to outstrip wage growth, and the blight of section 21 evictions persist and threaten to destabilise the lives of households across the city. It is crucial that we continue to build a range of affordable homes to rent and to buy across the city, meeting the varied housing needs of Bristol citizens who cannot afford to pay market prices.

The main reason for this remains the national housing crisis, and the lack of affordable move on accommodation available for people to progress on from the emergency accommodation we provide. We have accelerated our own council house build programme, as well as supporting partners to build more affordable homes. Last year Bristol built 2,563 new homes with 474 of these being affordable – but these will obviously take time to construct, and we need to be able to support people much sooner.


Preventing homelessness also remains key and, working with partners, the council offers a range of prevention services including a welfare rights and money advice service, targeted support for people leaving hospital and prison, and a Youth Homelessness hub (Bristol Youth MAPS) to help young people to stay with their families where possible.

We also continue to develop our Housing First offering for people who have struggled with getting off the streets. This approach gives people access to housing, without them having prove they are ready for it. Once housed, they are then provided with intensive wrap around support to enable them to manage and sustain their tenancy. The Housing First model has shown some great results and helped to support some of the most vulnerable people in the city.

We must remember that homelessness is complex, and not everyone wants the support being offered at the time. People’s reasons for sleeping rough are often multi-layered and deeply personal which is why our approach with partners is to focus on understanding the individual’s needs whilst aiming to offer longer term stability. We will continue to work with people who are rough sleeping, reviewing their options and developing individual plans for everyone to leave the streets.

There remains a lot of support and services available for people who are rough sleeping, or at risk of homelessness, and I would encourage people to take that first step to reach out and get help.

Taking early action can avoid reaching crisis point. For more cost of living support and advice visit our cost of living webpage.

You can also call the We Are Bristol phone line on 0800 694 0184, Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5pm.

If you are concerned about someone who is sleeping rough, you can make a referral via Streetlink.

A young person is pictured, wearing a blue and black jumper, holding a carboard cut out of a house, with street art in the background.

CPR could be the most important lesson you ever learn

Ben Lee, the Relationship Fundraising Manager at the British heart Foundation, smiling, standing on a bridge with a city harbour and houses in the background.
Today’s guest blog is from Ben Lee, who is the Relationship Fundraising Manager at the British Heart Foundation.

Would you know what to do if a loved one had a sudden cardiac arrest in front of you?

A cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at any time – it could be someone you know or a complete stranger. And when it happens every second counts.

Knowing what to do in the ultimate medical emergency could be the difference between life and death.

According to new survey for the BHF, only half of people said they could perform lifesaving CPR on a loved one if the worst should happen.

Most cardiac arrests out of hospital take place in the home, meaning you are more likely to need these skills to save the life of someone you know.

This February as part of Heart Month, we have been calling on everyone to learn CPR using the BHF’s digital training tool, RevivR.

RevivR is free, quick and simple to use and in just 15 minutes you will be equipped with the skills that could help you save a life. All that is needed is a mobile phone and a firm cushion. 

RevivR teaches how to recognise a cardiac arrest, gives feedback on chest compressions and outlines the correct steps of using a defibrillator, giving anyone the confidence to step in and help.

It only takes 15 minutes – that’s a coffee break, half time in the football or the time you might spend scrolling through social media. So please put it on your to-do list today.  It could be the most important lesson you ever learn.

Alongside learning CPR with RevivR as part of Heart Month, we have also been asking people to “Go Red” to help fund groundbreaking research into heart and circulatory diseases, which affect around 46,000 people in Bristol.

We’re delighted that the Mayor of Bristol has joined in the “Go Red” challenge by lighting up the M Shed and City Hall in support of the campaign.  

The BHF is the largest independent funder of research into heart and circulatory diseases in the UK. Since we were established in 1961, our research and campaigning has contributed to the annual number of people dying from heart and circulatory diseases in the UK falling by half. Despite progress, heart and circulatory diseases still cause 70 deaths each month in Bristol.

We’re currently investing more than £15 million into research right here in Bristol – only made possible by the generosity of donations from the public. For example, researchers at the Bristol Heart Institute are investigating how they could improve the way surgeons treat children living with congenital heart disease, so they don’t need as many open-heart operations.

They have developed a revolutionary ‘heart plaster’. These patches have the potential to adapt and grow with the child’s heart as they get older, removing the need for repetitive heart surgeries and the many days at hospital recovering after each one. We are currently funding a project to ge these patches ready for testing in patients so clinical trials can start in the next two years, enabling more children and babies to benefit from the life-altering technology.

For more than 60 years BHF-funded research has turned ideas that once seemed like ‘science fiction’ into reality. By going red for the BHF this Heart Month, you will be supporting the discovery of new treatments and breakthroughs for heart and circulatory diseases and helping keep families together for longer.

To support the British Heart Foundation this Heart Month, visit  


Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine: One year on

Tetiana Konieva and Serhii Sharban are pictured with their sons, Mykhailo Kolkbrodov and Maksym Koniev. Tetian's mother, Olha Ryzhkova, is also pictured, along with  two dogs, Bruno and Zhan.

Today (24 February) we mark the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It is a sad day, and our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine. Thousands of people have lost their lives and millions have been displaced by the conflict.

Tetiana Konieva and Serhii Sharban, were forced to flee Ukraine last year with their young family, when the Russians invaded their city. Here they tell us of their long journey to freedom and why Bristol now feels like home.

Our “great journey” to England began on 24 February 2022. That day, we were awakened at 5am by powerful explosions. It was Russia launching their first missile strikes before invading our city. We lived in Kharkov, the second largest city in the Ukraine, which is located about 40 km from the border with Russia. That morning Russian tanks were already 1 km from our house.

Not suspecting anything, thinking that this was a misunderstanding, and it would be resolved, we went to work and treated it like any normal day. You don’t imagine that your country is going to be invaded. But many people had already left the city or evacuated. It soon became known that because the city had not surrendered there would be a bombing raid by planes. We were afraid. Having collected our documents, children, and dogs, we went to the dacha [traditional country house] 100 km from Kharkov.

The next day there was fighting on the outskirts of the city, and every day we saw and heard the shelling of our beautiful city. Our street was badly damaged. Four shells flew into our house, and our neighbours’ houses were destroyed and burned. We felt that this could not be happening to us, like a bad dream, but unfortunately, it was. We felt like our whole world collapsed, all our happy days ended, and anxious days came. We were confused, didn’t know what to do. We had lost our jobs, lost our peace and the kids were confused and very scared. After two weeks, we learned about the Homes for Ukraine programme and, with the help of our friends who live in England, we started looking for sponsors. To our delight, we found them!

My youngest son and I decided to leave immediately, because the situation was very difficult. We knew Russian forces could come any day now. Thus, on 20 March 2022 we became refugees and began our journey across Europe. I never imagined that something like this would happen to us. We gradually made our way across Europe to England and saw a lot of people on the move, refugees from Ukraine.

Finally, a month later, my son and I obtained a visa and arrived in Bristol. We were very warmly welcomed. Our sponsors, Jane and Steve Storey, were very welcoming. They provided me and my son with a small apartment and surrounded us with care and attention. There was financial and moral support. My son went to school, I got a job. Later, my eldest son arrived. And six months later, my husband and mother. I also managed to get my two dogs out of Ukraine as well.

The apartment that our sponsor had kindly provided us with came to an end, and we started looking for a home. By then I had become friends with British people, and they helped us find a home. With the help of Bristol City Council, the city authorities and its employees, we now all live together in a house. England has become a second home for us. We feel safe here, we like our neighbours. They are kind, sympathetic people who are always ready to help. I think Ukrainians and British people are very similar in lots of ways. The natural politeness of the English was surprising too, it is their way to always say “sorry”, even when it’s not their fault!

The support of the Mayor’s Office is very much felt. My mom is provided with medical care and medication. We are eternally grateful to everyone who helped us, we are grateful to God, we appreciate the help and support of the city authorities, the Mayor, and people like Larysa, our Support Worker from the Bristol City Council Refugee Resettlement Team who is always interested in our lives and help us to feel like we are welcome and can belong here.

During the time that we have lived here, I’ve managed to get a better job and my eldest son also works. My husband immediately got a job when he arrived, but after a while he was let go and is now looking for a new job. We really like this country, its people, and we want to integrate into society and to be useful. We try to remove barriers, so we are learning the language, its history, laws, customs, and rules. We are so very grateful to the people of Bristol, and the UK, and want to contribute positively and be a part of this society.

Find out more about how Bristol City Council is responding to the crisis in Ukraine and how you can help here: The resettlement of vulnerable refugees in Bristol