Author Archives: marvinjrees

Fifty years of fun at Felix Road

Mayor Marvin Rees hangs on a playground zip wire, with children playing on/around a wooden playground behind him

I am delighted that Felix Road Adventure Playground in Lawrence Hill is celebrating its 50th birthday this year. As a child I used to play at Felix with my friends and I still love going there now.

Felix Road is a true Bristol gem, an amazingly inclusive and diverse community space where children can play, parents and grandparents can meet and chat, and where the community can sit down together and share food. Felix Road and the other adventure playgrounds in Bristol have been providing those services for generations of Bristolians for over 50 years.

A black and white photo, showing children playing on a wooden playground in 1972

Adventure playgrounds are such unique community spaces. They are a chance for inner city children to play in an adventurous way that is so important for a child in a city. Whether it’s swinging high on a big swing, digging and planting vegetables, or building and climbing a high tower adventure, playgrounds give children courage, resilience, and community wisdom that stays with them for the rest of their lives!

#FelixAt50 is going to be marked with a programme of events including a children’s tea party in June, an evening of films and talks in July, a food festival in August, and a children’s festival in September. These events will be complemented by a new mural outside the building celebrating the women who have watched over the playground and the children who play there for the past 50 years, and a new play structure designed by the children.

Two children stand, with their arms crossed, in front of a white wall covered with brightly coloured mural writing

Felix Road Adventure Playground has been open since 1972 and the local community have loved and protected this space for the past 50 years. In 2020, the playground became part of Eastside Community Trust, who also run Easton Community Centre and Up Our Street magazine, and are a key organisation providing spaces, connection and opportunities to participate in Easton and Lawrence Hill.

We are privileged as a city to have rich and vibrant assets in our neighbourhoods run by trusted community organisations supported by passionate people, like Stacy Yelland, Marg Hickman, and Mandy Watson, and Manu Maunganidze. Eastside Community Trust is one such organisation that Bristol is lucky to have.

I encourage you to find out more and get involved. Congratulations and Happy Birthday Felix Road – here’s to the next fifty years! 

26,500 people supported by 12

Today’s blog is by Markus Bell, Marketing and Operations Manager at Nerve Tumours UK

The Neurofibromatosis Association, trading as Nerve Tumours UK, supports those who have been diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis (NF), together with their carers, families, and wider support network.

Neurofibromatosis, the umbrella term for a group of genetic conditions (Neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1), Neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NF2) and Schwannomatosis) and literally translating to mean “nerve tumour increase” is one of the most common neuro-genetic conditions, causing tumours to grow on nerve endings. It has many associated medical, physical and psychological conditions: 60% of those affected have learning disabilities, and up to 75% are registered as disabled. People with NF live in constant pain, can be vulnerable and are often isolated.

More people are diagnosed with NF than those with Hereditary Muscular Dystrophy, Huntington’s Disease and Cystic Fibrosis combined, yet few, including many medical professionals, have heard of the condition.

Nerve Tumours UK provides support and advice for people with NF, and the medical professionals involved in their care, through a Specialist Support Network comprising of regional nurses and advisors, a national helpline, a fully accessible website, regional information days, medical guidelines and much more. Following on from a regional information day held in Bristol in 2019, we now hope to be able to introduce a Specialist Neurofibromatosis Nurse’s post into Bristol, similar to our other regionally based posts located in other neuroscience centres around the country.  There are more than 26,500 people in the UK diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis, and yet we only have a frontline team of 12 specialists. Therefore, we need to provide more support , and you can help us to do this by becoming a supporter or by making a donation. To find out more, go to nervetumours.org.uk

Shining a Light in 2022 and celebrating 40 years of Nerve Tumours UK

We are turning 40 this year! Founded in 1981 when Trish Green and Clare Pepperell were brought together by a BBC radio programme called “Does He Take Sugar”, both parents had been trying to find other families affected by Neurofibromatosis.

Initially called “Link: The Neurofibromatosis Association”, the organisation was first registered as a charity in 1982, and since then, the charity has evolved to become Nerve Tumours UK, the leading voice and support network for people living with Neurofibromatosis in the United Kingdom. We need to ‘Shine A Light’ on World Neurofibromatosis Awareness Day in 2022, highlighting our work and support services. By joining a global campaign initiated by the Children’s Tumor Foundation, our US counterpart, Nerve Tumours UK has secured over 200 locations across the UK and Ireland to light up in blue, and so help us achieve our goal of raising awareness.

Tonight, Bristol’s City Hall will be lit up in blue to Shine a Light to mark Nerve Tumours UK’s 40th anniversary and World Neurofibromatosis Awareness Day.

Enough: Be Part of the Change

Today’s guest blog is from Chief Constable Sarah Crew reflecting on last Friday’s summit on Violence Against Women and Girls, which was attended by members of the Bristol Women’s Commission, Deputy Mayor Cllr Asher Craig, Cllr Ellie King, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Communities and Cllr Helen Holland, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Integrated Care System.

On Friday 6 May we were joined by organisations and individuals united in one aim – to eliminate violence against women and girls in Avon and Somerset.

The one day Summit, Enough: Be part of the Change, marked an historic milestone for our region, bringing together partners to agree an action plan to make the vision that women and girls living in our communities can go about their lives free from crime, abuse, harassment, intimidation and fear into a reality.

It is an ambitious vision, but it’s clear we cannot delay action any longer. 

Cllr Asher Craig signs the #ForHerFuture pledge at Avon and Somerset Police's "Enough: Be Part of the Change" summit

It’s estimated that one in three women will experience violence in her lifetime. Crimes such as rape, female genital mutilation, stalking, harassment, and digital crimes such as cyber-flashing, ‘revenge porn’ and ‘up-skirting’ are taking place every day.

Of course we recognise policing has a significant role to play in any change that needs to be made. Recent events have severely dented the trust and confidence of those we most need to protect, and we must address this as a matter of urgency.  We are already committed to tightening our grip on offenders, but we understand this must also be a time for both reflection and action within our own organisation to ensure we are upholding the standards vital to providing the service our communities, and our own people, deserve.

However the impact of this goes beyond just victims of crime; it seeps into every area of women’s lives, at home, in our communities, at school and in the workplace. Women and girls are living with the fear of, as well as the reality of abuse, intimidation and violence. And that has to change. 

Which is why, in October 2021, we wrote to a number stakeholders in Avon and Somerset to propose a strategic summit to not only ask people to share their own actions and progress but to also establish joint commitments through a series of agreements, covering areas including Criminal Justice, media, culture and sport, places, transport, children and young people and the workplace.

At the Summit we came together to discuss these agreements and to set out the next steps on our journey to delivering the change we need to see.  

There is no doubt that this is a complex problem with no quick fix but we firmly believe, as we have shown through our work over the years with Bristol Women’s Commission and many other stakeholders, that coming together to work in partnership is the only way we are going to achieve real and sustainable change.         

We now, more than ever, need to demonstrate our collective commitment to creating the conditions where women and girls can go about their lives free from crime, abuse, harassment, intimidation and fear.

Changes Bristol – Mental Health Awareness Week 2022

Today’s guest blog comes from Alexandra Henden from Changes Bristol

This week (9–15 May) is Mental Health Awareness Week and this year’s theme is Loneliness. Loneliness can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, or social-economic group. You can feel lonely when in a relationship or with a social circle around you.

Loneliness can be linked to low mental wellbeing and finding a service that can help ahead of time can give you the support you might need and help prevent mental health problems in the future.

Mental Health services in your city

A group of people sitting on a sofa talking.

Changes Bristol has been running for almost 20 years, supporting over 1,000 people a year in and around Bristol who are experiencing mental health difficulties. Over the last two years, we have seen twice as many people get in touch asking for support with loneliness and isolation being a symptom of feelings such as anxiety, depression and stress. Many of our members have reported indicators in their lives being disrupted, such as working from home, not having face-to-face interaction with others and the loss of social environments like community groups, social clubs and religious centres.

Although many of these spaces have now reopened, we continue to grow our services to offer our community different ways to meet others and speak about anything they may be going through. These range from online and in-person peer support groups to weekly walk and talk sessions in Bristol and telephone befriending for one-to-one support.

Access for specific groups of people

A group of people sitting in a circle listening to somebody speak.

Due to member demand, just over a year ago, we opened weekly peer support meetings for specific groups of people; these four meetings are open exclusively for women only, men only, women of colour and anyone who identifies as LGBTQ+.

Safe spaces are vital as they provide a secure, non-judgemental and confidential space for our members with similar life experiences. These meetings for specific groups of people mean members don’t feel the need to explain their life experiences because these will be shared by the whole group, something that is important in not feeling alone.

Hannah, one of our volunteers who attends the Women of Colour group explains: “I think it’s important to have this group because it is a space where there already is some level of understanding between each other, and you don’t need to explain yourself as much”.

The stats speak for themselves in terms of the need for men to talk about their mental health. Men are three times more likely to take their lives and men aged 40–49 have the highest suicide rates in the UK. Loneliness is a key factor in this with many of our male members feeling that they can’t speak to anyone around them.

Let’s talk about Mental Health 

Being a stigmatised illness mental health can be a difficult subject to broach with loved ones and having access to support services is crucial in making positive changes to wellbeing.

Peer support services that we offer at Changes Bristol are vital right now because they give people an opportunity to meet others who have similar lived experiences of mental health difficulties. This allows for spaces for people to speak about their lives, feelings and emotions in an environment that is safe, inclusive and non-judgemental. This creates a community or network of people who they can turn to for support, creating resilience, confidence and higher self-esteem in day-to-day life.

Anyone 18 or over is welcome to join any of the free services that Changes Bristol has to offer which are run by a team of highly trained volunteers who all have lived experience of mental health difficulties. Services are online, over the phone and in-person, and it is self-referral, so you don’t need a diagnosis to come along.

Changes Bristol will be running a stall at the Mental Health and Wellbeing Fair at The Galleries from 11–13 May. Come along to say hello or find out more about our mental health services on our website.

International Workers’ Day

Today’s blog is by Sadie Fulton, Policy and
Campaigns Support Officer, Trades Union
Congress, South West Region

May Day is unique among the holidays as it commemorates the actions and legacies of ordinary people as a collective. Indeed, much of history’s progress was fought for and won by ordinary people rather than the elite. For those who aspire to change the course of the future, May Day is your day.

Our voices are needed now more than ever; and today invites us to take a moment to reflect on the past, present, and future of our movement. It is great to see Bristol’s History Commission leading work to understand the fullness of the city’s history, including the contribution of the working classes, trade unions, workers, and strikes.

The Haymarket Affair

Earlier this year I had the privilege of visiting the Haymarket memorial in Chicago, the site of a barricade in 1886, where trade union activists stood to demand the 8-hour workday. During the Haymarket Affair, a grenade was thrown into the police line opposite, which detonated, killing several police officers. The leaders of the protest were arrested, tried, and sentenced to death despite lack of evidence connecting them to the grenade. They were subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing, but most had already been executed.

In 1890, in honour of these martyrs and their cause, a committee in Paris declared 1 May to be International Workers’ Day. The site is still commemorated by many plaques sent by trade unions from as far afield as the Philippines, Turkey, Sweden, and even Colombia (the most dangerous country on Earth to be a trade union activist). Indeed, International Workers’ Day is celebrated in the UK and across the world, with over 150 countries declaring the day a public holiday.

It is a day to honour the struggle for workers’ rights to date, the victories and sacrifices of workers who secured such victories as the weekend, minimum wage regulations, parental leave, an end to child labour, and more. Such victories are often repackaged as a benevolent gift from leadership, but as every historian knows, ‘power concedes nothing without a demand’ (Frederick Douglass).

Workers’ struggles in 2022

We are now living through a time where many of our victories need to be revisited – the minimum wage was intended to be a living wage, and the cost-of-living crisis is tearing through our communities with countless families left wondering how they can hope to heat their homes when the winter comes back around. Yet with it comes an upturn in struggle, as with the Clarks workers victory late last year.

Indeed, many industries and employers once seen as impenetrable or untouchable have recently been successfully targeted for union organising, with the objective of securing better working conditions and the right to collectively bargain.

From Impossible to Inevitable

In her book Hope in the Dark, Rebecca Solnit commented that social and economic advances are described as ‘impossible’ until the moment they are won, and henceforth called ‘inevitable.’ In one fell swoop this phenomenon erases the blood, sweat and tears of countless thousands of ordinary working people who dared to dream that they could join arms to secure a brighter world for themselves and the generations to come. It ridicules unsuccessful movements and dismisses successful ones.

It is critical to remember that the victories that have been won for economic and social justice were neither impossible nor inevitable. They were the culmination of the hopes and demands of those who came before us. To win a change, we need strategy, and we need hope to back up our anger. Researcher Brene Brown describes hope as “not a warm fuzzy emotion that fills us with a sense of possibility. Hope is a way of thinking – a cognitive process.” She argues that hope can consciously be cultivated through the trio of realistic goals, pathways to reach them, and the agency or capacity to take meaningful action.

In 1886, the 8-hour workday seemed out of reach to most, and Chicago activists lost their lives for it. Nowadays it is standard in many industries,  alongside a climate of precarious contracts and bogus self-employment; best practice continues to advance, while loopholes are further exploited to circumvent it. We have our work cut out for us.

Many people working together can accomplish what one alone can only dream of. This is how, working together, we can recultivate that hope that we need to overcome the unique challenges of today, including the ones that currently feel impossible. We need each other more than ever; only people power will turn the tide. The brighter future we need and deserve is neither impossible nor inevitable; it is in our hands, collectively.

Happy International Workers’ Day.

Vaisakhi: celebrating the birth of Sikhism

Today’s blog is from Nirmal Bal, Secretary
of Bristol’s Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara

Vaisakhi is a significant event in Sikh history, where Sikh identity and practices were forged. On April 13, 1699, the last living Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, called for Sikhs across India to gather at the city of Sri Anandpur Sahib, in Punjab, North-West India.

Sikhs believe that God is the self-existing light within all, and the ten living Gurus guided us to realise this light within. In 1699, faiths in India were being persecuted. Guru Gobind Singh Ji asked the congregation of Sikhs for a volunteer who was prepared to sacrifice their life for their Guru and faith. All were silent until a man raised his hand to volunteer, a shopkeeper. He was led to a tent. Guru Gobind Singh Ji returned to the congregation with his sword dripping in blood. He then called for another volunteer. The next volunteer was a farmer. He disappeared into the tent and the Guru returned with a bloody sword. He called for three more volunteers, and three men answered from different castes. The congregation was further stunned as the five men came out of the tent dressed in white robes and holding swords.

The Guru and Mata Sahib Kaur conducted the first Amrit Sanchar (Sikh initiation ceremony) where the five men – the Panj Pyare (five beloved ones) – took their vows to practice the central tenets of Sikhism. This is summarised by the term Sant-Sipahi, saint-soldier, where one aims to remember God and act according to spiritual values of humility and compassion for all.

The Panj Pyare were inducted into the order of the Khalsa, the pure ones. The Guru was then initiated by the Panj Pyare himself. He proclaimed the Panj Pyare to be the embodiment of the Guru and that wherever five initiated Sikhs meet the Guru is met as well. This underpins Sikh leadership. Then the caste system was prevalent in India, causing inequality. To establish equality, Guru Gobind Singh Ji conferred the same surname to Sikh women and men that identified them as Sikh and transcended caste and the circumstances of one’s birth. Sikh women are given the name Kaur (princess and female lion) and Men are given the surname Singh (male lion and a popular name amongst royals), denoting grace and courage. The Guru bestowed the five K’s , five sacred symbols worn at all times by initiated Sikhs, that represent core Sikh values. Sikh practices do not discriminate according to gender and Amrit Sanchar is the same for women and men, as are the responsibilities of organising worship. 

Today Sikhs in Bristol all over the world, those initiated and those heading towards it, celebrate Vaisakhi with love and devotion. Sikhs will conduct a procession, carrying the Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib Ji, through the streets, singing prayers and taking Langar (kitchen open to all) on the road. Vaisakhi is a time to connect with our faith and communities, remember the Guru’s commands and be inspired by the Panj Pyare to practice Sikh values of love and justice. Amrit Sanchars will be conducted all over the world. Many Sikhs will choose to be initiated into the Khalsa, dedicating their lives fully to God and following the Khalsa code of conduct.

In Bristol the four Gurdwaras, Sikh temples, will be celebrating Vaisakhi throughout the week. The Guru Granth Sahib Ji will be recited from beginning to end, continuously throughout the day and night, beginning this Friday morning. This will be followed by a congregational prayer thanking the Gurus and God and for the goodwill of mankind. The congregation will then sing shabads, Sikh holy prayers. The Guru Granth Sahib Ji is written in 42 different Raags, melodic scales, and music is at the heart of Sikh worship. The Nishaan Sahib, the saffron flag pole that stands outside every Gurudwara will be cleaned and a new flag will be erected. Gurdwaras will continue to serve langar, their kitchens are open to all regardless of faith, caste or creed. Sikhs will practice Gatka, martial arts, with competitions held for children. We will remember and discuss important lessons of Vaisakhi and how we can act according to Sikh values. 

For more information please check out these links: https://www.sikhpa.com/campaigns/sikhvaisakhi/; https://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/Vaisakhi

LEDs: keeping the lights on and bills down

Today’s blog is by Councillor Don Alexander, Cabinet Member for Transport

Street lighting is something that some of us take for granted, but it’s critically important for our safety and quality of life. Technology moves on and an exciting new opportunity has now presented itself.

We will be replacing 27,000 of our now outdated street lights with Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs) and will operate them through a new Central Management System (CMS). The LED and CMS combination will reduce electricity consumption by 45 to 50%, saving taxpayers around £1.8 million each year and reducing Bristol’s carbon emissions by a stunning 17,741 tonnes over a decade. In addition, this system requires less maintenance so it will reduce the number of vehicle trips around the city with their associated costs and pollution.

I am really excited about this project, as given the climate emergency and with energy bills rising across the UK, it has never been more important to find ways to reduce our energy consumption across the city. 

The Central Management System provides remote control monitoring and energy measurement over a wireless interface, giving it the ability to dim or brighten individual areas of the city. Examples of the possible benefits of this could be improved women’s safety, more appropriate lighting for wildlife and reduced light pollution.

The variety of lamp posts, which are a welcome feature of our historic streetscape, has required some technical work to allow the LEDs to be used on the more traditional models. As LEDs use less energy, this creates new possibilities for our ongoing work on devising approaches to on-street charging models for electric vehicles, more of which will be announced soon.

Making an upfront investment to speed up our switch over to LED street lighting is a simple way to make energy savings. This is good news for the environment and will dramatically reduce our energy bills, freeing up future resources to be invested in other frontline services. Using smart city technology, this project which will make sure our street lighting network is responsive, reliable and fit for purpose for years to come.

The street lighting replacement programme will be completed over three years at a cost of £12 million, which will soon be recovered at current energy prices.

City of Sanctuary, City of Hope

Yesterday I spoke at the launch of the ChangeMakers project report, From Sanctuary to Opportunity, with Ashley Community Housing and the RAMP Project. ChangeMakers works to connect refugees’ lived experience with policy, helping build regional capacity to welcome and include refugees; create pathways to meaningful employment; and close the two-tier gap on refugee support.

I was pleased to write a foreword for the report, and to see videos of support from fellow Mayors Migration Council members Mayor Giuseppe Sala of Milan and Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago of Kampala.

The report can be read in full below.

“The movement of people makes cities what they are – places where people come together to share and exchange. Where people make safe homes and futures. But to share in the success of the city and to foster genuine integration, we need to have confidence in our identities and promote economic, social, political and cultural inclusion.

“As you deliver The Change Makers Project as part of other great work in Bristol, let us remember that attitudes to migration are not just polarised, they are highly complex. Attitudes to migrants have hardened as populations across Europe and North America have turned to populist politicians and rejected globalisation, of which migration is a central part. But in Bristol we know that with the right policies and structures in place, migrants and refugees can bring fresh ideas, resources and perspectives that contribute economically, socially, and culturally.

“Three global issues – the pandemic, racial inequality, and the climate emergency – show what we have in common as human beings is far more important than our differences.

“We are at the dawn of a decade when the decisions we make as a city and as society on how to address economic inequality, climate change, technological innovation, and political polarisation will shape our shared future for generations to come.

“I challenge all communities, new and established, to ensure migration works for all. A Local Authority on its own cannot guarantee that someone seeking sanctuary will be able to thrive in their new community. But for Bristol we do have a corporate vision to “play a leading role in driving a city of hope and aspiration where everyone can share in its success.”

“At both a national and global level we need to see more city-to-city cooperation. Cities and global networks of cities working together as equal partners in shaping national and international policy. We want to see global south / north cooperation at the city level. I’m encouraged by efforts now being driven by the Mayors Migration Council, a new initiative to support cities to become more influential at the global level.

“I am proud to sit on the Leadership Board of the Council alongside mayors from across the globe, and together we are determined to make progress on expanding the role for cities. I hope this report sets a roadmap for the Change Makers Project and contributes to creating an inclusive city, which works for all.”

Building an Age-Friendly City

Learning from the Bristol Ageing Better programme

Today’s blog is by Bianca Rossetti, Project Manager at Age UK Bristol

Last week saw the close of Bristol Ageing Better (BAB), a seven-year National Lottery funded programme that saw over £6 million invested in projects to improve social wellbeing among older people in Bristol.  

We reached an estimated 30,000 older people, and the evaluation conducted by UWE and our team of Community Researchers (all volunteers aged 50+) showed direct improvements through reductions in isolation and loneliness. Projects like the small grants fund and group mental health and wellbeing services demonstrated the power of communities and voluntary organisations as conduits for friendships and social activities that transform people’s lives. None of this would have been possible without Bristol having a strong third sector that works collaboratively rather than in competition, and without the efforts of volunteers. Around 2,000 people gave their time for free to make the programme happen: over 63,000 volunteer hours. Many older people also volunteered to help shape the programme from the top, with our Programme Board including older people with lived experience as Bristol residents.

Changing the conversation on loneliness

The last few years have seen a dramatic shift in the way we talk about and understand loneliness. BAB began in 2015, as one of 14 areas across England successful in securing funding from the National Lottery Community Fund’s Fulfilling Lives: Ageing Better programme. This investment came after decades of mounting evidence about the impact of loneliness and social isolation on people’s mental and physical health, and how many of common events in later life combine with problems in the built environment to create a gap between the kinds of relationships and social connections we want and those we have.

The legacy of the BAB programme has been to create lasting changes in many communities, leaving the city with a large body of evidence on the initiatives that improve social wellbeing locally. We’re also thrilled that five of these successful models will carry on through a 12-month programme funded by the NHS Healthier Together Ageing Well Fund. A new ‘Connecting Communities’ programme will see some of the successful BAB projects expanded to North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, as part of community-led approaches to improving health in older age. These models include bereavement peer support, integrated care clinics, social activities and group wellbeing sessions.

Towards an Age-Friendly Bristol

It’s also a time of progress for Age-Friendly Bristol, the BAB-led project which saw us working with the city office, the council, VCSE organisations and older citizens to create a strategy that secured the city’s membership of the WHO’s Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities in 2018. Coronavirus and other environmental changes have created new challenges and opportunities in improving  inclusion and reducing the health inequalities people experience as they age. This is why I’ve spent the last year working on a new iteration of our Age-Friendly Strategy, launched last week, which you can read below. This is complemented by an Action Plan, which sets out the detail of who’s leading on each age-friendly initiative, and I’ll be publishing an update on its progress later in the year.

We may be considered a young city – and indeed, older people do form a much lower proportion of the population than our neighbours across the rest of the south west. However to think that demographic ageing shouldn’t be a focus of Bristol’s long-term planning would be a mistake. The proportion of people aged over 75 in Bristol is set to grow by 40% by 2043, a greater percentage than for any other age cohort. Our older population is also increasingly diverse, and seeing older people as a homogenous group overlooks the experiences of older people of colour and older LGBT+ people.

All Bristolians are facing a future where they will reach pensionable age at an older age than the generation before them. We need to ensure the city can offer good jobs for all that protect workers’ health and wellbeing and provide equal opportunities to people throughout their working lives. The age-friendly goals align with the city’s other goals including zero-carbon, race equality, and economic renewal, and seek to ensure that what makes Bristol unique – our cultural institutions, the strength of our communities, and our green spaces to cite just a few examples – can be enjoyed by everyone growing older in our city.

Temple Cycles

Today’s blog is by Matthew Mears, Founder and CEO of Temple Cycles, one of the Bristol businesses who I have recently visited.

We are a Bristol based bicycle designer and maker and we make some of the world’s most beautiful and high quality bicycles at our production facility in Bedminster. We have an emphasis on making versatile bikes for touring, commuting and also gravel riding, with a strong emphasis on sustainability and making sure our bikes will become vintage. We’ve also now introduced some incredible electric bikes into the line-up.

Sustainability

Temple Cycles was started in 2015, born out of my lifelong passion for cycling and a dream of producing bicycles here in Bristol. Since the start, making high quality machines has been the objective and we want all of the bikes we make to become vintage someday. Too much of the bicycle market is geared around upgrading and replacing your bike every few years. We don’t agree with this and make products which will last a lifetime.

Sustainability of our products and production processes are very important to us. That’s why we only make bikes from 100% recycled steel. This means that our bikes have a very long product lifecycle. If they are properly looked after they will last over 30 years, and when they do reach the end of their time, they can easily be recycled. On top of this, we make sure all of our bikes are very easy to service, maintain and find spare parts for.

The pandemic

There has been a significant change in the way we do business since COVID-19 and Brexit. Supply chain disruption and shipping delays have added extra pressure on the business. We used to operate in a leaner way, holding less stock of parts and materials in the warehouse. Now we hold a higher proportion of this to make sure we have enough to keep production running if we get hit with unexpected or extra supply delays. The demand for our bikes has risen significantly though, as people look for green modes of transport. We only see this becoming more and more important, especially as our cities grow and cars are certainly not the best mobility solution. As governments invest more in cycling infrastructure, we’re excited to see how much of a cycling nation we can become.

Cycling in Bristol

Cycling in Bristol is fantastic. We’re really proud to be part of this cycling city, and we see more and more people on bikes each year. There is so much to do if you like to cycle, with great access to the surrounding countryside and Sustrans national cycle routes. There’s something for everyone here, including great mountain biking in Ashton Court, access to beautiful and quiet country roads, an improving network of cycle lanes, and hundreds of parks and green spaces within the city to cycle to.

We’re really excited to continue growing our business in Bristol and for what the coming years will bring, as our city transforms to become a vibrant ecosystem for sustainable mobility and active travel.