Category Archives: All

Investing in youth work and young people is an investment in the future

Alistair Dale, CEO of Youth Moves smiles in front of a wall covered in graffiti art.
Alistair Dale, CEO of Youth Moves

Did you know young people spend 80% of their waking hours in a year outside of school? So youth work services are vital for them to access the support they need during these times and we need the support of all city partners to make sure our young people can access great youth workers.

Youth Work is a profession that makes a difference to a huge number of young people across the city and nationally. That said it is often a hidden service, taking place in parks or youth clubs, on street-corners and with small groups or individuals.

Youth workers provide support to young people through their transition from childhood to adulthood, they help young people to deal with the huge challenges of growing up and navigating teenage life, and to find their place in the world and be active citizens in their communities.

Young people need somewhere to go, something to do and someone to talk to and youth clubs and youth workers are a vital resource to provide this support.

Nationally though youth work has also been critically under-funded, and years of austerity and covid have seen youth work decimated nationally with more than 70% of the national budget removed over the last 15-20 years.

Despite these national cuts Bristol still has a strong and diverse youth work sector. In recent years we have come together to develop a vision for youth work in the city and to work in partnership to help raise the profile of the impact that great youth work makes and therefore leverage more funding into the sector.

New national government funding from the Youth Investment Fund aims to address some of this funding shortage by investing in 300 new youth clubs across the country. As a part of this Bristol is bidding, alongside OnSide and Youth Moves, to develop a new state-of-the-art Youth Zone in the south of the city.

At Youth Moves for the last 17 years we have been aiming to provide outstanding youth work in South Bristol, working with a huge range of partners, schools, community organisations, other youth and play delivery groups, the Police, social care teams and much, much more.

So investing in a Youth Zone, which is a large secondary school/ leisure centre sized youth facility, open 7 nights a week, 364 days a year, and which has over 20+ activities going on every night helps to increase our offer to young people. It provides the very best facilities and equipment, is delivered by fantastic staff and partners, and shows the young people that we care, that they matter, that they are seen and that we are investing in their futures.

On International Youth Day it is great to be able to look ahead with such optimism for the future.

Remembering Roy Hackett MBE 1928 – 2022

Deputy Mayor Asher Craig smiles in front of trees and bushes.
Deputy Mayor Asher Craig

Many plaudits have been written about Roy Hackett since his passing, so there is no need for me to repeat what we already know about this humble, resilient and at times very funny human being. When Roy spoke, people listened and we saw this in action as he played a pivotal role in the 1963 Bristol Bus Boycott which paved the way for the first Race Relations Act of 1965.

I first met Roy Hackett, when I was appointed to the Board of Trustees of Bristol Council for Racial Equality, in the late 1980’s. I was representing St Paul’s Community Association, now better known as the Malcolm X Community Centre.

Roy was always elegantly dressed, – suit, tie, and that recognisable trilby hat. Roy was sat next to Owen Henry and also in the meeting was Prince Brown, Barbara Dettering, Olive Osbourne, Shivranjan Singh (the Chair of BCRE), Bhupi Bowri, Carmen Beckford and Fred Walcot. They were amongst many other leading black and Asian race equality activists and civil rights campaigners, who paved the way and passed on the mantle for people like me to step up and be counted. I was by far the youngest on the Board, but it was the best school I went to as my journey as a young black activist and agitator kicked in.

Roy Hackett stands on the left side of the photo with Asher Craig on the left they are holding a flag reading Celebrating the Windrush Generation. In the background you can see the moat and steps of Bristol City Hall.
Roy Hackett with deputy mayor Asher Craig on Windrush Day 2020

Today we marked the 60th Anniversary of Jamaica Independence at City Hall. For as long as I can remember, Roy always attended this annual event that has become a staple in the Civic Diary. He was a proud Jamaican and today his place in hoisting the flag alongside the Lord Mayor, was taken by his grandson and great-grandson. A fitting tribute was paid to Roy by the Lord Mayor of Bristol and in time this city will pay its own tribute to this Son of Jamaica, and proud citizen of Bristol. This year’s diamond jubilee celebration was observed under the theme ‘Reigniting a Nation for Greatness’, Roy was an example of this countries true greatness.

Roy was already a living legend so his legacy, is already documented but there is so much more to this great man than what we hear about him in the media or in books. Roy was a husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, friend, and colleague who continued to fight against racism and inequality until his passing.  Many of us will continue his work and many young people will be inspired by Roy’s story and will pick up the mantle as we continue to strive towards the elimination of racial discrimination in both this City and around the world.

Throughout my own journey in this city, I have had the privilege to have known and stood on the shoulder of many great giants – black activists, campaigners, and pioneers – Mr Roy Hackett M.B.E, is one those giants. Thank you for your service to this city Roy – your legacy will live on.

Deputy Mayor Asher Craig

Behind the Headline

Alex Raikes MBE, Strategic Director at Stand Against Racism & Inequality (SARI)
Today’s guest blog is by Alex Raikes MBE, Strategic Director at Stand Against Racism & Inequality (SARI)

Local media and newspapers are an important feature of a place’s identity – displaying the best and worst of an area, celebrating and challenging its people and institutions. At SARI we know the deep impact media coverage, good and bad, has on our communities. The local media share important information on politics and popular culture, as well as the responsibility to frame and explain in a way which helps readers interact with their city.

We also see how today’s media have to battle for people’s attention and clicks online. This can create the pressure for attention-grabbing headlines that are not thought through in terms of consequences for communities. A short, snappy headline can have disproportionately high levels of impact on a lot of people. The wrong kind of headline can stoke divisions in our communities. It is for this reason that there is a need for genuine understanding, sensitivity and representative and informative journalism. Because of all that we have navigated in our national conversation on race and inequality, Bristol’s role is particularly important.

I was, therefore, saddened when a number of local people contacted me about the front-page headline published by the Bristol Post on Tuesday August 2nd stating that they found it inflammatory and divisive with racial overtones. People were worried that it could impact on community relations and even lead to some backlash hate crime. 

It reads: ‘Harbour Festival ‘Too White.’  The article is in response to a Bristol City Council Cabinet paper which is reviewing our Harbour Festival following community consultation. When you read this report, it is clear that the key messages are about the need to make sure that the event is more inclusive and as safe as possible for the diverse communities it should be serving. It raises concerns that have been shared by consultees that the festival is too focused on drinking culture and that they are put off by this and find it an uncomfortable environment – this was especially the case for Black and Minority ethnic respondents and families wanting to bring their children or those who do not drink alcohol. The report suggests the festival needs to examine its main purpose and what it aims to celebrate and suggests that it should also better reflect Bristol’s harbour history from a multi-cultural perspective – including its links to the Slave Trade. Other ideas include introducing an alcohol-free zone and ensuring the activities and entertainment are attractive and reflect our communities more and better meet the needs of disabled and neuro-diverse people.  The report reflects consultations the Council have carried out and really such suggestions can only be seen as laudable for an equalities’ charity like SARI.

While the article on page three explained this context quite reasonably, it is let down by a front-page headline that serves only to sensationalise the race element of the cabinet paper – which actually is not written simplistically either but is discussed in a wider context.  The headline gives the false impression that the entire report and consultation is just about colour and race which is simply not the case. It also results in scapegoating black and minority ethnic people for ‘ruining’ a traditional festival. 

A copy of the Bristol post Article on Tuesday August 2, 2022. The front cover shows a photo of a hot air balloon with a text reading Good Morning Bristol! is big text at the bottom. Underneath this reads in big white letters 'Harbour Festival 'Too White' Council report calls for changes to make event more inclusive page 3.
The Bristol Posts article from Tuesday, August 2, 2022.

It is therefore no surprise that as a result of our local paper’s unhelpful headline other national papers have picked up on it in even more negative ways – the Daily Mail: https://bit.ly/3BFm7oZ; The Telegraph: https://bit.ly/3oVckDt and ITV https://bit.ly/3P01IxJ for example.

All have reflected the Post headline (but then not proceeded with such positive articles). They have focused almost entirely on the race issue preyed on the fears that a traditional festival is at risk of being ruined because of the needs of Black and Minority Ethnic communities. 

The Post headline has had a domino effect in the national media where some reports have the added and deeply unpleasant connotation that this ‘attack’ on Bristol’s Harbour Festival is all caused by our Mayor (who just happens to be Black) – with the Daily Mail reporting that “A councillor slammed the report, telling the Telegraph: ‘This latest attack on the hugely successful Bristol Harbour Festival sadly comes as no surprise and is a further indication of how the current Labour mayoral regime loathes everything which is ”Shipshape-and-Bristol-fashion”.  We know only too well where such implications lead – our Mayor has been supported by SARI many times due to racist attacks which all too often have arisen after scapegoating media coverage.

Increased polarisation in our community is an unseen consequence of negative, myth-inducing and ill-informed headlines. I would entreat our local media not to compromise our City’s safety and cohesion just because they are so desperately wanting clicks and attention from the National Media.  This is the cheapest form of journalism in our view.

We are writing this blog to share a message for The Bristol Post and any other local media that it is crucial they work with us as a city to help build and maintain community relations, to tackle racism and division rather than the opposite.  Our local newspapers must take responsibility for their actions – e.g. be mindful of how the written word has the potential to contribute to peace and togetherness or to goad and incite hatred.  Otherwise agencies like SARI are left picking up the very broken pieces – which actually are local human beings facing awful backlash hostility.

I will conclude with just a few of the comments that illustrate the concern and unhappiness from a few of our local Black and Asian community leaders for whom the potential negative impact of such a headline will be only too real:

Museji Takolia CBE, Independent Chair Commission on Bristol’s Racial Equality (CoRE):

“There seems to be a disease infecting parts of our local media. They seem to operate under a different code of ethics and without any sense of shared social responsibility.

I am talking of course about the headline grabbing story reported in The Bristol Post “Harbour Festival Too White” (2nd August 2022). It saddens me that as I try and remember in sorrow, the life of a campaigning civil rights activist Roy Hackett MBE who died this week, I am having to dig deep and maintain the civility and decorum that his generation had to muster against far more direct and hostile racists. Yet here we are almost 60 years on and The Post has joined the gutter press by reducing a complex set of issues from a detailed 24 page official consultation document that were reported in good faith and with total transparency to yet another attention grabbing headline. Is it racist? No of course it isn’t. Is it part of a rotten culture that distorts reason and evidence for yet another negative headline that will have racist sympathisers jump on it in Bristol? Absolutely! Alex Raikes from SARI has the facts and evidence for those who care to see the full effects that gaslighting has on anything to do with diversity, equity and inclusion. 

“Let me say this clearly and without equivocation. It is hard, very hard, being a Black man or Black woman in public life. Marvin Rees and Asher Craig hold a very high profile with all the responsibilities that follow being in the public eye. They have accepted their oaths of office and should be held to account. But on standards and principles shared with others, it is palpably absurd to insinuate that every decision led by them at City Hall is because they are Black or anti-racist. The inference is offensive as well as factually inaccurate. It may be hard but sometimes it is worth capturing the complexity and nuance behind a story. This is lazy journalism.”

Fuad Mohammed, CEO of Ashley Community Housing:

“The report invites the harbour festival to be more representative of Bristol… but this sensationalist front page article is causing more division with no solutions presented in the real challenges in the report.”

Sandra Meadows MBE:

“Actually, really angry and disgusted with The Bristol Post for this sensationalist, divisive, misleading headline. Given the article, it’s clear that this was intentional. Intended to offend, upset and divide. This serves to confirm that little if anything has changed at the deepest levels of The Post, despite their so-called ‘Year of Change’ following justified criticism for their ‘Faces of Evil’ front page. We should and do expect our main local paper to reflect the progressive city and to contribute through high quality journalism to cohesion across all our communities.

The fact that they published this on the week Roy Hackett MBE passed away speaks to the work still to be done with Bristol institutions such as The Post. Mr Hackett’s legacy is great and enduring. His unstinting dedication to racial justice and community cohesion should be rightly applauded. I shudder to think what The Bristol Posts legacy to Bristol will be! If they are to continue holding the monopoly on Bristol news we should all be worried…and ashamed.”

Marti Burgess, Chair of Black South West Network

“I was shocked to see this headline. It just seems that the editors chose to use divisive language by having the phrase “too white” in the headline. With a different headline the people of Bristol would have read, with an open mind, an article about a report on how to make the harbour festival better and more inclusive for all communities. Instead we got a headline which just feeds the narrative that ‘woke’ people and black and minoritised communities have a problem with traditional British culture when in fact no-one does but in a city as diverse as Bristol something like the harbour festival needs to change so that all communities see it is as something for them. I was saddened and disappointed by the headline and thought it did a disservice to our city and its people.”

Summer Activities with Branches Out Forest School

Kate from Branches Out Forest School, smiles in the front of the photo. Behind her is a house surrounded by trees and flowers.
Today’s blog is by Kate from Branches Out Forest School

This summer we are partnering with Bristol City Council and the Heart of BS13 to offer Forest School holiday club sessions for local children. The current cost of living crisis has made it even more important to support our local community by offering free sessions to local families over the summer holiday. We are also aiming to address food poverty by providing everybody with a warm, healthy meal cooked on a campfire. Sessions take place every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday throughout August at our wonderful roundhouse site in BS13.

Forest School provides young people with the opportunity to build confidence and self-esteem, stretch comfort zones, and enjoy and appreciate the outdoors. Originating in Denmark, the Forest School ethos is all about giving people the opportunity to be free in the woodland environment.

Young people also get the chance to practise physical outdoor skills in a safe environment such as tree climbing, whittling, building dens and fires. There is an abundance of opportunities for social interaction through various group activities which help to develop teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills. Our sessions also include elements of personal reflection for our young people to review their learning and set new goals.

The past two years have been challenging for so many young people in our community. Children have felt isolated from each other, and we are experiencing a mental health crisis amongst our young people. The data from the NSPCC shows an 85 per cent increase in children’s mental health referrals. We would like to change that. Research shows that spending time outdoors leads to lower levels of stress, depression, and anxiety and so we want to give young people the chance to play outdoors, in a safe and fun environment. We love spending time outside and discovering the world around us, which is reflected in all our sessions. 

A survey we completed at our Forest School showed that children felt happier after interacting with others and felt more confident after overcoming challenges. Some of the challenges include using tools, lighting fires, climbing trees, and learning about plants and animals. At Forest School, we believe in empowering children to make their own decisions. This helps to give them a better understanding of boundaries, risk, and consequences, and have confidence in their own abilities.

Tackling climate change through sustainable, ecological education is something we are very passionate about. Working with nature is at the core of everything we do, and we want to share our love for all things green with our local community.

For more information about Branches Out Forest School and other holiday clubs and activities in Bristol, visit the Your Holiday Hub website.

Free places are funded by the Holiday Activity and Food (HAF) programme and are open to children and young people who are eligible and in receipt of free school meals. Find out more on the Your Holiday Hub website.

Mead Street development brief endorsed by Cabinet

It’s an exciting time for the Temple Quarter regeneration project. In June, the project received nearly £95 million to kickstart the first phase of delivery in the areas around Temple Meads station. As I wrote at the time, the proposed transformation of the area represents a new phase for Brunel’s historic station and its surrounds and is the culmination of years of hard work from the council and our partners Homes England, Network Rail and the West of England Combined Authority.

Since then, we’ve continued to engage with the community, businesses and stakeholders. We’ve also hosted visits from Bristol’s MPs, as well as civil servants from the Department for Levelling Up and the Treasury, reflecting the importance of the project in delivering new homes and jobs for the city region in the eyes of government.

From 20 May to 4 July, we ran a consultation on a development brief for Mead Street that set out guiding principles for change in the area. Mead Street is one of the six distinct areas that make up the Temple Quarter and St Philip’s Marsh regeneration area, located just south of the Bath Bridges roundabout between St Luke’s Road and the Bath Road. This week, I’m pleased to say that my Cabinet colleagues endorsed the document, and it will now help to guide the process of considering planning applications in the area.

We produced the Mead Street development brief ahead of a wider development framework for the whole of Temple Quarter because most of the land at Mead Street is owned by private landowners who have brought forward proposals for new development. By creating an overarching document that sets out principles for change, our aim is to ensure that change in Mead St happens coherently, creating a vibrant new community with good, joined-up infrastructure and public spaces, rather than as a series of disconnected development sites.

Concept Masterplan of the Mead Street development. On the right of centre of the image is a map of the Temple Quarter regeneration area with keys and shading to display the 6 distinct areas that make up Temple Quarter and St Philips Marsh. On the left of the image text read, The opportunities and concepts were brought together with special requirements to create a concept masterplan which summarises the key strategies including, routes, development plots, heights, land uses and public real. Underneath is a key explaining the plans for the area, number one indicative location of central public open green space, two indicative location of children's play space, three proposed Southern Gateway, four Safeguarding public transport routes, five proposed pedestrian and cycle route connecting to Whitehouse street Regeneration area, 6 new pedestrian connection, seven Ecological corridor along railway, 8 fowlers of Bristol (to be retained) included in case of future redevelopment), nine potential community space (Indicative location only).
Concept masterplan of Temple Quarter and St Philip’s Marsh regeneration area

Overall, the principles in the brief were welcomed by respondents to the consultation, with over 50% of people either strongly agreeing or agreeing to the four principles set out. Drilling down into the data, some of the highest levels of support were for the creation of new community space (84%), safe and inclusive streets (86%), integrating green space (89%) and creating a new public open space at the heart of the neighbourhood (87%).  It’s great to see positive reaction to these proposals, which reflect our commitment to safeguarding space for sustainable travel and public spaces as we plan for the homes we need to tackle Bristol’s housing crisis.

We also know how important employment space is at Mead Street, and the area is currently home to a mix of successful businesses. The survey results show us that Bristolians agree – 70% of respondents strongly agreed/agreed that existing tenants should be retained and re-provided for where possible and compatible with the regeneration of the area. 80% strongly agreed/agreed with the aim to mix homes and jobs to create a genuinely mixed neighbourhood. Finding this balance is important, and we’re committed to working with partners to ensure employment space of the kind already in the area is protected, as our work with the C40 Cities initiative nearby at Whitehouse Street demonstrates.

We did receive comments about the potential height and density of any new buildings in the area. The height of any new buildings will be determined through the planning process by whichever independent, cross-party development committee the decision falls to. However, geographically, Bristol isn’t getting any bigger, but its population is growing at speed. We have to deliver new homes, but we also need to protect greenspaces around the city and meet our commitments to the climate and ecological emergencies. That means building new homes in the right places more densely than we have done before.

Mead Street is an ideal location for new homes, potentially as many as 1500. It is previously developed land, close to the city region’s major train station and within walking or cycling distance of the city centre and local amenities. To create that number of homes, alongside the improvements to infrastructure and public spaces the consultation respondents want, means that, yes, new buildings at Mead Street are likely to be taller and denser than what is currently there.

Bristol Temple Quatre tweet about Cabinet’s endorsement

I have reflected previously on the competing demands we face as a city if we are to deliver the new homes we need. As I said then, cities are complicated and demand constructive debate. We will continue to engage with local people as plans for Mead Street, and the wider Temple Quarter area, progress as we work to deliver the new homes, jobs and public spaces that our city deserves.

You can read more about the Temple Quarter project and find the Mead Street development brief at BristolTempleQuarter.com.

If You Can See It, You Can Be It

Today’s guest blog is from HerGameToo Co-founder Lucy Ford

The 2022 Women’s European Championship, held in England, has been a tournament like no other.

Attendance records have been broken multiple times; 68,000 people attended the Lionesses’ opening game against Austria at Old Trafford and the Lionesses’ semi-final TV audience peaked at 9.3 million viewers.

The tournament has seen some incredible support and has been truly embraced. The record for the most fans attending a Women’s Euros was broken during the group stage, passing the previous record of 240,055.

#HerGameToo

HerGameToo’s Leah Davis, Lucy Ford, Amy Clement and Caz May at the UEFA Euro 2020 Fanzone.

#HerGameToo, a campaign to tackle sexism in football, was founded in May 2022 by 12 female football fans. The campaign originated in Bristol; Caz May and me (Lucy Ford) are life-long Bristol Rovers fans, and Leah Davis and Eve Ralph, are life-long Bristol City fans.

The growth of the campaign has been beyond anything we could have imagined.

We now have partnerships with clubs across the whole football pyramid to ensure football grounds are safe environments for women and girls and we also want to promote and support grassroots girls’ football.

Seeing #HerGameToo flags at games has been a real “pinch-me” moment and Tess, the little girl who sang “Sweet Caroline” after the Lionesses’ semi-final epitomises the next generation that #HerGameToo want to inspire and support.

What The Legacy of the 2022 Women’s Euros Will Be?

The impact of the European Championships will hopefully be a long-lasting, and exciting one for generations to come; it would be truly amazing to see the Lionesses win.

However, Ian Wright, a real ally of women’s football put it best after the Lionesses’ semi-final victory against Sweden, “Whatever happens in the final now, if girls are not allowed to play football just like the boys can in their PE after this tournament, then what are we doing?”.

Amid the excitement of the result, it really put it into perspective the different experiences boys and girls have in schools to play football.

Figures from the I newspaper showed that only 44% of secondary schools in England offer girls equal access to football in PE lessons.

How are girls supposed to potential emulate their heroes if they do not have the opportunity to play it; to be the next Lucy Bronze or the next Beth Mead?

Hopefully, when we reflect on this tournament in the future, I hope that the increase in opportunities and access to women’s football will be a part of the legacy.

Is Football Really Coming Home?

Tuesday evening saw the Lionesses reach their first major final since 2009, ending a run of three successive semi-final defeats. The 4-0 win against Sweden at Bramall Lane saw Beth Mead score her sixth goal of the tournament, with the pick of the four goals scored by Alessia Russo.

The Lionesses will be facing a familiar foe Germany in Sunday’s final at Wembley Stadium, after their 2-1 victory over France. The Lionesses will be looking at avenging the 6-2 Defeat against Germany in the 2009 European Championship Final, on Sunday.

It has been 56 years since England last won a major tournament when England beat West Germany 4-2 after extra time to win the Men’s World Cup at Wembley Stadium in 1966.

Could lightning strike twice? Could the Lionesses go one better than last year and win the European Championships?

Sunday’s final is hoping to attract one of the biggest attendances in women’s football. With millions of viewers tuning in across the UK, Europe and beyond, it is going to be an extremely special occasion for the players, staff, and fans alike.

No matter the result on Sunday, Women’s Football is here, and it’s here to stay and the Lionesses have made the whole country proud.

Good Luck to the Lionesses! It’s #HerGameToo.

Supporting a more inclusive social care workforce 

Deputy Mayor Asher Craig, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Education and Equalities
Today’s joint blog from Councillor Helen Holland, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Integrated Care System

Bristol is a diverse city, our residents are from a range of different backgrounds, cultures, and ethnicities. The city’s 2,000 social care staff have a strong understanding of this diversity and provide tailored support to those who need it the most. 

Our social care staff themselves are an example of Bristol’s diversity, so we know it is important that we ensure the inequalities experienced by our Black, Asian and minoritised social care staff are addressed. We want everyone to be able to continue doing their job while progressing in their careers and be supported, respected and empowered.     

The COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences deepened inequalities between Bristol’s families and communities. We took action to reverse these effects, signing up to the voluntary pilot Workforce Race Equality Standard Programme (WRES). The year-long programme has allowed us to self-evaluate and consider what further actions we can take to tackle race inequality and drive an important culture shift within our social care workforce.    

Over the last year, we have collected and submitted data to the Department of Health and Social Care, looking for disparities between our white and Black, Asian and minoritised colleagues. We heard directly from staff, learned about their experiences in the workforce and today, we have published our WRES action plan in response to our findings.   

The council has been making significant steps towards achieving race equality, but we know there is so much more to be done. Our action plan shows where we are already doing well, as well as outlining the areas we need to improve on. Our staff highlighted some areas we need to focus our efforts on, such as, representation at a senior level, recruitment and career progression.

We will create opportunities for staff training and development so that our workforce is trained to the highest standard possible. We will review our progress annually, allowing us to strive towards a fair and inclusive social care workplace, that our staff and residents deserve.  

Thank you to all our social care colleagues who’ve shared their experiences through the WRES. You have been central in forming our action plan to help us achieve equity.     

You can read our WRES action plan on the Council’s website.

Find out more about Bristol’s WRES story through this blog from the Department of Health and Social Care.

94 water rescues so far in 2022, don’t be the next

Today’s blog is by Steve Quinton, Risk Reduction
Area Manager at Avon Fire & Rescue Service

Today, on Drowning Prevention Day, the National Water Safety Forum launches its first campaign, encouraging everyone to #RespectTheWater. Fire services, councils, and other organisations are coming together to help keep local people and visitors to our area safe.

During the warm summer weather, particularly the recent heatwave, it may be tempting to take a dip in local waters to cool off.

You wouldn’t be wrong in thinking that the water will cool you down, but what you may not know is that the water in Bristol Harbour, as well as local lakes, ponds or weirs, remains cold enough to cause cold water shock – even on the hottest day of the year.

It can cause you to gasp for breath, inhale water, and cause panic. If you find yourself in trouble in the water, remember: extend your arms and legs to float until the effect of cold water shock passes – you can float to live.

While the water may look appealing, there are many hidden dangers beneath the water’s surface, including rocks, rubbish and even shopping trolleys. The water’s changing currents and tides can pull you in or make it hard to get to safety, even for the strongest swimmers. It’s not as tempting as it looks when you consider the dangers below.

Sadly, 50% of calls that we get involving the water affect people who did not intend to enter the water. So, even if you are relaxing by the water’s edge and don’t plan on going for a dip, make sure to take care and always supervise children near the water.

If you see someone in difficulty in the water, you may think the best thing to do is to jump in and try to save them. But by doing this, you put yourself at a high risk of drowning. If you see someone that needs help in any inland waters, call 999 and ask for the fire service. If you’re on the coast, ask for the coast guard.

Across the country, most drownings involve alcohol and sadly alcohol related drownings affect young men the most. If you fall into the water, or jump in, after drinking, your chances of being able to get out of the water are reduced, as alcohol impairs the bodies movement.

If you’re out drinking, take the safe route home and avoid the water, don’t drink and drown.  

We don’t want to ruin your fun this summer, all we ask is that you go prepared, understand the risks, and know what to do in an emergency.

Remember, if you find yourself in the water: float to live.

Bristol’s response to the cost of living crisis

A national cost of living crisis has struck Bristol, and once again it is our poorest communities that are facing the biggest impact.

Driven by rising prices, with high inflation at 9.4% in the year to June, the inequalities of our country are worsening. Wages are stagnating and welfare support is far behind inflation while our energy bills, petrol prices, national insurance contributions, food costs are getting steeper.

Child poverty rates are stark, our own assessment shows almost a quarter of children in some Bristol wards are living in poverty. As the world’s fifth largest economy, Britain cannot continue to accept this as reality. National government urgently needs to do more to support our most deprived communities in particular. But in Bristol we are already making plans for the immediate future.

Our challenge is tackling a complex issue exacerbated by the pandemic and compounded by rising costs of living and relative wage decreases year on year. Although the cost of living crisis is acute, many people in Bristol have already been living in a crisis for years.

The Fuel Bank Foundation predicts the energy price cap will rise to £2,800 in October 2022. This would mean that an average prepayment customer will need to top up their meter by £391 per month. We will see more people pushed into fuel poverty: similar to the increasing numbers of people using food banks, accessing Local Crisis Prevention Fund (LCPF), struggling to pay rent, and using public services to avoid using energy at home.

So we are proactively organising a city-wide network of warm places “Welcoming Spaces” for people in Bristol to keep warm over the winter. We will use community spaces, council owned buildings, and will draw on community infrastructure strengthened during the pandemic such as volunteer groups and facilities. These will offer vital warm spaces for those residents that are forced to choose between heating their homes and putting food in their cupboards.

We have other programmes aimed at the immediate crisis of holiday hunger and provide opportunities for people to enter work. We continue to support low-income families with our £40 million Council Tax Reduction Scheme, Local Crisis Prevention Fund, and do what we can to ensure those who are entitled get access to the welfare support they need. The Community Resilience Fund sees a one-off capital funded £4 million pot shared with groups based in and working with the most deprived areas of our city.

These measures cannot be seen as long-term solutions. We strive to develop inclusive economic growth, working with community groups, businesses, universities and schools, and Government—to build a city of hope for all those who live in Bristol, including young and old, native Bristolian and newcomer, family or single living.

Making Bristol a Living Wage city is a key platform for this aim. Supported by unions we have worked with employers to ensure their staff earn a wage that meets costs and pressures they face in their everyday lives, resulting in over 40,000 workers in the city in Living Wage accredited jobs.

We know there is still more to be done. The government must provide more opportunities and solve some of the systemic problems such as inflation and low paid work so that families can escape poverty.

In its report Centre for Cities calls on government to increase benefits to bring them in line with inflation, reintroduce the £20 uplift for Universal Credit for the 5.9 million people currently on benefits, and provide those living in homes below EPC band C with a one-off payment to help face soaring energy bills.

To deal with rising fuel costs, the National Energy Action research highlights the need to switch pre-payment meters users to smart meters. The government must launch an independent review into Ofgem’s lack of regulation in the energy market and for an energy consumer duty as called for by Citizen’s Advice.

The government must invest more in our communities. They need to reverse their 12 years of national austerity, that has left our infrastructure weak and communities vulnerable. People need support now, the current situation demands immediate steps to alleviate the effects of the cost of living crisis and high inflation.


Becoming a ‘Zero Exclusion City’

Bristol's Youth Mayors, Jeremiah Dom-Ogbonna (left) and Anika Mistry (centre), standing in the Mayor's Office with Mayor Marvin Rees. Behind them, books and awards are visible on shelves.
Today’s guest blog is by Anika Mistry and Jeremiah Dom-Ogbonna, Bristol’s Youth Mayors

Over the past few years, with the disruption of the pandemic, we as a nation have been reminded of the significance of education and know that it is crucial to children and young people. This is not only for our personal and academic development but also for our happiness and wellbeing.

However, for some students, school feels like a prison, where often the decision for an exclusion from school isn’t justifiable and concerns have been raised about the link between exclusions and race, where institutional racism could be a factor. We feel that we all should take action and campaign for Bristol to become a ‘Zero Exclusion City’, where our schools understand and respect young people and make them feel appreciated and valued, both in and out of school. 

What does it mean to be a ‘Zero Exclusion City’?

It means to be a city that doesn’t give up on young people. A city that sees the best in our young people, even in the moments where they don’t see it themselves. A city where all young people are given a chance to be who they want to be. A city where young people aren’t written off before their stars shine brighter than they ever could imagine. We want young people to be appreciated and feel that they have support when they need it rather than becoming isolated.

We’ve seen too many stories where young people have been put into Isolation – short and long term – where this isn’t warranted. This isn’t ok. A situation that should have been easily resolved, by just speaking and letting the students know their wrongdoing, has escalated leading to irreconcilable damage, not just to their education, but to their future as a whole.

What is the prize of being a ‘Zero Exclusion City’?

It means that we set the pace for others to follow, we are the example for other cities all over the UK. It means that we see young people who are less likely to go down the wrong path, to be able to access all that life has for them. This consequently leads to more young people who can have more of a stable environment for them to develop in regard to their education, away from all the vices that are a constant afterthought in many communities across the UK.

Already, the One City Plan, written by the city, aims that, by 2030, Bristol is in the top quarter of Local Authorities in England for school inclusion and attendance, and where restorative approaches are put in place as a first response to conflict management in schools. By 2034, Bristol aims for schools in our city to have fully implemented a zero-exclusion policy. As co-chair of the One City Children & Young People Board, Jeremiah is working to help develop and deliver this work.

What does this mean for young people?

This means that young people are offered support when it is seen they’re going off track, instead of negative and overactive discipline. It means that young people are in the classroom, learning, which is the most integral thing. Teachers who are better placed to understand their students better. And most of all, we have young people who truly are global citizens, doing their part to make the world a better place.

Sometimes young people are criticised; sometimes we are humiliated; and sometimes it may feel like school just isn’t able to accommodate us despite trying our best, even though teachers may not realise it. Bristol is a place of community, inclusion, and respect, where everyone is valued. As Bristol’s Youth Mayors, we want to work towards a city where school exclusions both permanent and short-term shouldn’t occur. We would love it if you could help us with this, to share our proposal and encourage others to reduce and get rid of exclusion – to make Bristol into a ‘Zero Exclusion City’. A city that doesn’t give up on young people; that sees the best in everyone and a city that ensures young people have the opportunity to let their stars shine. 

To get in contact with the Youth Mayors, contact ywparticipation@bristol.gov.uk and follow us @BristolYMayors, @AnikaYouthMayor and @OgbonnaDom.