Category Archives: Economy

Frome Gateway Regeneration: have your say on the future of St Jude’s

The river Frome is pictured with the river wall on the right side of the image and trees on the left side.

Bristol is a thriving city, well renowned for providing opportunities, attracting talent, supporting businesses and offering the highest employment rate of the UK’s core cities. However, this is not something that is experienced by all residents equally.

Our city is 42 square miles with a rapidly growing population, which presents the challenge of how we sustainably develop Bristol while limiting the sprawl of the city. If we don’t act now to regenerate areas that need it most, and make use of brownfield sites to build new communities that attract opportunity, those parts of our city will be in danger of being left behind.

Regeneration must be used to create vibrant, successful places with higher density development to make use of the finite land available, balancing the need for homes, workspaces, green spaces and infrastructure while directing investment to existing areas most in need.

Frome Gateway is one of these areas of our city, which is in need of investment so that it can better meet the needs of the local community and our city.

We’ve been working with local businesses and the community to shape a vision for the future for this area. While we continue to address challenges such as the housing crisis, social and economic inequality, and the climate and ecological emergencies.

The Frome Gateway area includes the land either side of the River Frome in St Jude’s, Lawrence Hill. It is east of Bristol City Centre and is bordered by Newfoundland Way/M32 to the west, Pennywell Road to the east, Houlton Street/Wade Street to the south and to the north by Easton Way.

The Frome Gateway regeneration area is pictured, with the wider map of Bristol.

Modern cities are always evolving to meet the needs of their residents, and Frome Gateway has seen huge changes over the centuries. Today, we have launched a consultation on the proposed vision, strategy and priorities for new development and investment in this area as it embarks on its next great transformation.

The draft Frome Gateway Regeneration Framework outlines a vision and set of principles to inform and coordinate development and regeneration proposals across the area to ensure it is fit for the future.

The vision is that, by 2035, the delivery of new and improved homes, workspaces, and community and public spaces will transform the Frome Gateway to better meet the needs of the local community and our city. This will see the area changing over time from a mostly industrial area to a healthy and sustainable residential-led neighbourhood with a greater mix of uses.

By 2035, the framework sets out a vision to:

  • Deliver about 1,000 new homes including a mix of larger family and affordable homes
  • Provide a range of new work and employment space for businesses to thrive
  • Bring about quality training and employment opportunities for local people
  • Open and restore the River Frome to become a thriving wildlife corridor, and increase the amount of green space through a network of new pocket parks
  • Provide safer streets for walking and cycling
  • Support community and cultural organisations to grow their reach into the community including young people
  • Improve public health and wellbeing and support more sustainable, active living
  • Adapt to the impacts of climate change and support ecological recovery.
A map of Frome Gateway regeneration is pictured. With examples some of the development that will come as a result of the project.

Following engagement with the community and local stakeholders throughout the development of the Regeneration Framework, comments received during the consultation will be used to make final changes before it goes to Cabinet in early 2024 for approval. If endorsed, the framework will be used to guide planning applications and investment in the area over the next 15 years.

To learn more about the Frome Gateway Regeneration Framework the council is running face-to-face and online events throughout the consultation period which are open to everyone. Details of these events are on the Frome Gateway project website

To complete the consultation survey visit the Frome Gateway project website. The consultation closes on Monday 4 December 2023.

Paper copies are available at Junction 3 Library, Trinity Arts Centre, St Pauls Learning Centre, St Pauls Community Sport Academy.

To request an Easy Read or posted paper copy of the survey or contact the team: email or call 0117 922 4409.

Supporting Bristol businesses

Cllr Craig Cheney is pictured, smiling, in a dark suit against a white background.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Craig Cheney, Deputy Mayor for City Economy, Finance, and Performance and Labour Councillor for Hillfields ward.

In July 2021, Bristol secured £4.725 million of funding to help our city centre and high streets across the city recover from the devastating impacts of Covid-19 where businesses were left reliant on national grant programmes, having been forced to close due to national lockdowns.

Supporting our high streets and city centre remains essential if we are to see them continue to recover and bounce back from recent challenges, not least the impact of the national cost-of-living crisis, which has increased prices and seen many of us cut back on discretionary spending. Our high streets and the businesses play an important role across our city, often forming the heart of the community with businesses passed down through the generations, providing services, jobs and support.

Plans were shaped by residents, businesses and community groups who live and work in the city centre and across nine priority high streets. Following engagement between September 2021 and March 2022 we have been delivering against these plans.

City Centre and High Streets Recovery and Renewal programme

Through the overarching City Centre and High Streets Recovery and Renewal programme we developed a programme of support for both new and existing high street businesses while also funding improvements in a bid to boost footfall.

Our programme of street scene and greening is underway. Concept designs are being drawn up to show our proposals for public realm and greening on the priority high streets. The focus is on improving the look and feel of our high streets by adding planters, planting trees, improving litter facilities to reduce rubbish, and encouraging people to stay with new seating for shoppers or passers-by.

To maximise what we are able to achieve, we are working with our partners across the city to make sure our proposals integrate with other programmes of support and regeneration.

Culture and events

Enhancing Bristol’s reputation for creativity and arts, we have supported the culture and events sector through the City Centre and High Streets Economic Recovery Culture and Events Programme, encouraging locals and visitors alike to use and visit these places to bring benefit to the areas and businesses there.

It’s wonderful to see the buzz and excitement return throughout Bristol since the pandemic. The variety of events and activities have encouraged Bristolians and visitors from beyond our city’s boundary to come to and experience what we have to offer. We recognise this in particular today, 27 September, which marks World Tourism Day.

We have now delivered 45 projects with 116 free events days. Whether it has been a local market, the Grand Iftar on College Green, the Church Road Lantern Parade, or Bristol’s Summer Film Takeover our unifying aim has been to celebrate the businesses, communities and cultures of Bristol’s diverse, inclusive, multicultural, multifaith city.

Importantly, all of the events and activities in the programme have been free and open to all to enjoy giving people the opportunity to explore what our city has to offer.

Analysis of 21 completed projects shows over 130,000 people have attended an event to date, generating £2.08 million of additional spend in Bristol’s businesses, and we have supported 380 paid jobs in culture and events, all from an investment so far of £498,000.

By increasing the number of people visiting and using these places we have seen the areas and businesses benefit from an increase in footfall and spend in local businesses. As a result, the number of visitors to our city centre in the last 52 weeks is up by 8.3% on the previous year.

Where’s It To?

To celebrate the uniqueness of each Bristol high street and remind people of the breadth and diversity of the independent businesses on them, we launched the Where’s It To? Bristol campaign.

Using local personalities to share their passion and knowledge of each high street, the campaign highlights the diversity of its traders and the areas of the city, to help encourage people to shop locally and to build stronger resilient independent businesses that are supported by their own communities.

The campaign website now features nearly 400 traders across 47 high streets and invites people to explore the hidden gems on their doorstep. Businesses interested in being added onto the website can email

Vacant Commercial Property Grant

Financial support through the Vacant Commercial Property Grant was recently extended to the end of March 2024.

Grants from £2,500 up to £10,000 are available to help new and expanding businesses trade from a city centre or local high street property. The amount of funding available depends on the length of lease or rental agreement, and is available for long term, temporary or meanwhile use. All organisations can apply including businesses, sole traders, charities, CICs, voluntary organisations, and arts and culture groups.

In the two years since launching, the council’s City Centre and High Streets Team has received over 450 enquiries and supported 100 new and expanding small businesses, charities and social enterprises allocating £872,000 in grants to open new shops and premises.

To date, over 100 new jobs have been created and the grant has helped to reduce the city centre vacancy rate by 2%.

Face to face support

Business Development Officers have been engaging businesses on all of Bristol’s high streets to make sure they have access to the latest business support, services and opportunities from the council and partner organisations.

Over the last year, our officers have engaged 1,001 businesses, provided tailored support to 457 businesses and made 93 referrals to partner organisations or services.

Whether you are opening your first business, looking to expand or facing financial challenges, our officers can provide tailored advice to meet your needs, including the latest information on grants and funding, training and skills, and mental health and wellbeing.

Future funding

£1.5m of additional funding has been secured through the strategic Community Infrastructure Levy (CiL) for high streets, subject to Cabinet approval next week. The new funding will allow us to continue supporting Bristol’s city centre and high streets, with a focus on three new priority high streets: Ashley Road/Grosvenor Road in St Paul’s, Crow Lane in Henbury and Oatlands Avenue in Whitchurch.

Funding would be spent on capital infrastructure projects to support growth in these areas, including lighting, improvements to cycle routes or infrastructure, and greening as part of wider public realm improvements.

Work would start on the new priority areas in October 2023 and run until September 2025, subject to community and business engagement, detailed designs, costings and contractor availability.

Supporting low-income households: Bristol’s Council Tax Reduction Scheme

Councillor Craig Cheney, Deputy Mayor of Bristol, is pictured, smiling, in a dark suit against a white background.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Craig Cheney, Deputy Mayor for City Economy, Finance,
and Performance and Labour Councillor for Hillfields ward.

Our Labour administration is proud to support people across our city, no matter where they come from or where they live.

That’s why, since the Mayor’s election in 2016 and then re-election in 2021, Marvin’s administration has delivered over £325 million of support for families across Bristol. We also recently secured £8 million through the Household Support Fund to continue to support residents.

When I was growing up, my own family was support by Council Tax Benefit. This national programme was abolished nationally in 2013, since when Bristol has remained one of the last councils in England to provide a fully funded Council Tax Reduction scheme. The scheme helps people on a low-income with their council tax. This means that currently up to 100% of a household’s council tax bill can be paid for through the scheme, with 75% of eligible low-income households currently having their bills paid in full.

Unfortunately, like most councils across the country, we face an extremely challenging financial position. This is due to a number of reasons, such as the national cost of living crisis and inflation, which means a cost of operating crisis for many organisations; and more than a decade of ongoing national austerity led by this current government. In this challenging climate, the budget agreed by Full Council in February 2023 was set on the basis that the Council Tax Reduction scheme would be reviewed for 2024/25. No other parties moved amendments suggesting alternative savings or income generation in place of this review and, indeed, no opposition parties have meaningfully voted to continue the scheme in its existing form at Budget meetings since 2016.

The Council Tax Reduction Scheme provides 23,000 working age households with up to 100% off their Council Tax bills. In 2022/23, the scheme cost £43.4 million. This represents 8.9% of the council’s total annual revenue budget, which covers day-to-day spending on council services. Of this £43.4 million, working age households collectively receive £30 million of support each year. Support for pension-age households is protected nationally.

The review agreed by Full Council looks at how to make saving of around £3 million through changes to the support available. This is after collection rates and monies collected on behalf of the Avon Fire Authority and Police and Crime Commissioner for Avon and Somerset are considered.

The council has launched a consultation asking for your views on the options for how low-income households in Bristol will be supported to pay their council tax in 2024/25. Ten options have been proposed in the consultation, which provides you with the opportunity to shape the final proposals for Cabinet, and then Full Council, to consider.

It is only fair that we continue to be realistic with people about the significant financial challenges that local authorities face. Difficult decisions have to be made in the current climate. If savings are not made from the Council Tax Reduction scheme then they will need to be funded from somewhere else, and the consultation provides an option for people to suggest exactly how else to save or raise the money to make this happen.

During a national cost of living crisis, when many Bristolians remain worried about their finances, it is a matter of real concern that some people are seeking to mislead people with incorrect information on this topic.

So, I encourage everyone to review the consultation materials and share their views before 25 September.

Your feedback will provide us insight into making this incredibly important decision and help us consider the future approach to take. The consultation is open until midnight on Sunday, 25 September and can be completed on the Ask Bristol website.

More backwards licensing changes

King Street is pictured at night. People are sat on outdoor tables, eating and drinking. A lamp post can be seen on the left of the image, with a neon sign reading 'Show me love' hanging above.

The Home Office has announced that, following a consultation, it will not be extending the provision which allow all licensed premises to sell alcohol off site. This worked alongside pavement licensing, enabling hospitality venues to easily create seated areas outside their premises. This decision will impact on a number of licensed premises across our city.   

We are incredibly disappointed that the government has taken this decision to stop hospitality venues automatically having the ability to sell alcohol to consume away from their premises – including on tables and chairs outside of the businesses’ boundary.     

This is not a decision we support, especially during this challenging economic climate, when we know that so many businesses are struggling to make ends meet. When the government consulted on extending these new licensing conditions and we responded to express our support to make the off-site provisions permanent.    

This decision from government will affect hospitality across the country, and it’ll be up to councils to pick up the pieces. In Bristol we will continue to demonstrate our support for the hospitality sector and do all we can to help businesses navigate yet another change to the sector.   

We recognise Bristol’s support for outdoor hospitality – both from the hospitality sector and members of the public – and will do what we can to support any venues that will be affected.   

We will be reaching out to the trade over the coming days work with them and to advise them of next steps and offer them any support we can. We understand the frustration and disappointment you must be feeling, and although this decision has been taken out of our hands, we will continue to work with the sector to offer any support we can.

Fairtrade farmer to visit Bristol

On World Fairtrade Day, today’s guest blog is from Bristol Link with Nicaragua, home to Puerto Morazan, one of our seven twin cities, and Bristol Fairtrade Network:

We are delighted to announce that our city will once again be hosting a visit of a Fairtrade farmer from Nicaragua. Bristol is proud to have been a Fairtrade City for 18 years and the visit has been an annual event for much of that time. Like so many activities this had to pause due to the pandemic, but this year, at the end of May, we look forward to meeting coffee farmer, Erika Lanzas Rodas.

The visit is taking place between 11 and 27 May and, like previous visits, will mainly focus on visits to schools in the area. As we strive to ensure young people in Bristol grow up ‘as global citizens’, it’s important that they have a chance to learn how their lives link with so many other places in the world. Meeting a Fairtrade producer in person and hearing about her experiences first hand will aim to help them understand the impacts their choices have on people the other side of the world. In previous years, we have always had extremely positive feedback from schools and young people on what a significant impact these visits have had on their thinking and understanding on the complex issues of ethics in world supply chains.

Erika Lanzas Rodas is pictured on her farm in Nicaragua, with greenery and buildings seen behind her.
Erika Lanzas Rodas on her farm in Nicaragua.

A bit about Erika

Erika Lanzas Rodas is 39 years old, a single mother of four children, a coffee producer, and a member of the UCA SOPPEXCCA Cooperative. She has a farm called La Libertad, with ​​two hectares of coffee. UCA SOPPEXCCA is a Fairtrade certified organisation and you can read more about it on the Fairtrade Foundation’s website.

Erika has been a member of the cooperative since 2012. She has enjoyed many benefits and achievements over the years, but the most significant have been the improvements to her home. Erika had a small house and only basic living conditions: the change from then to now and the progress she has made since she joined are clear, as is the improvement in her family’s income thanks to the fact that her coffee is certified and marketed through Fairtrade.

For Erika, being a member of the cooperative means having opportunities for herself and her family. One of her achievements are the improvements she has made to her home in order to guarantee the safety and well-being of her children. She began by changing the roof, as it was in poor condition. She also built a toilet, from cement blocks, inside the house, since they previously had a latrine outside, causing insecurity for her and her daughters.

Erika has her own wet coffee-processing space, which she obtained from the premium earned by ‘Las Hermanas’ coffee and the Fairtrade social premium, investing the money to guarantee the best quality for her coffee.

Belonging to the ‘Café Las Hermanas’ group for small women producers means having opportunities to grow emotionally, socially and economically, thanks to the coffee’s high value based on quality and origin. It is produced 100% by women coffee producers who are members of SOPPEXCCA.

Today Erika is a woman entrepreneur and a leader in her cooperative. She currently belongs to the Gender Committee of the ‘Arlen Siu’ base cooperative, where she has been training in environment, production, gender equality, human rights, and other areas. Her children have also benefited from scholarships and receiving school supplies, which have allowed them to finish secondary school and which they continue to receive today.

Together with other women members of the cooperative, Erika has begun to diversify her crop and work in family gardens, in order to guarantee food security for the families and to improve their income.

We are excited to say that there is an opportunity for you all to meet Erika on 26 May at Sparks, the new art, sustainability and education hub in the old Marks and Spencer building in Broadmead. SPARKS is an exciting new development in the city launching on today.  The event to meet Erika is free to attend but booking is required.

This visit is organised via a partnership between Bristol Link with Nicaragua (BLINC); SOPPEXCCA, the union of Fairtrade Co-operatives based in Nicaragua’s highlands; The Venturers’ Trust; the University of Bristol; the University of Bath; and Bristol Fair Trade Network (BFTN).

National cost of living crisis: £8 million of new funding

Councillor Craig Cheney is pictured, smiling.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Craig Cheney, Deputy Mayor for Finance, Governance, Performance, and Culture, and Labour councillor for Hillfields ward.

Significant pressures remain for many households across Bristol, in particular our city’s most vulnerable residents and families, with no sign of the national cost of living crisis slowing down or coming to an end.

The support from national government has been lacking but we’ve worked hard to target supported funding that we have received to help those most in need.

Our Household Support Fund has been instrumental in Bristol’s response to the national cost of living crisis, so we welcomed the news that we were receiving an additional £8 million for this financial year. This time the funding is for a whole year as opposed to previous versions which have been for six months only.

Despite the warmer weather and lighter evenings prompting people to switch off their heating and use less electricity, prices are still very high and support for households facing the most impact is still sought after.

Last year, the Household Support Fund provided much needed support to over 90,000 households. This included almost 23,000 children and young people being given Free School Meal vouchers during school holidays and funding to over 10,000 low-income pensioners in receipt of Council Tax Reduction to support with energy costs. Money was also allocated to care leavers, foster households, Feeding Bristol, Red Cross, Age UK, and the Centre for Sustainable Energy.

There are many people who fall through the gaps and are unfortunately not eligible. We used some of the money last year to top up our £1.4 million Local Crisis Prevention Fund, enabling us to provide a total of around 10,000 households with emergency payments, over 2,600 of these were through our Household Support Fund.

Additional help included the Mayor’s budget provides support to almost 33,000 households with up to 100 per cent off their council tax bills through our £41.3 million Council Tax Reduction Scheme. 105 Welcoming Spaces were also opened across our city during the winter months, working with local communities and the voluntary sector. They were designed to provide a warm welcome and bring people together through community meals, film nights, and a wide range of other activities available to everyone.

The spend for this year’s Household Support Fund has now been approved by Cabinet and will provide:

  • Free School Meal Vouchers to approximately 22,600 young people for all school holidays from May 2023 half term to February 2024 half term
  • Targeted support to those with No Resource to Public Funds (including Refugee and Asylum Seeker households known directly to us)
  • Targeted support to care leavers and foster households to assist with their food and heating costs
  • Support for 1,100 low-income households via Discretionary Housing Payments
  • Help to around 4,000 low-income households in need through the Local Crisis Prevention Fund who are not eligible for the other payments outlined above

Similar to last year, money is also being allocated to some local support organisations, including Bristol Age UK, Feeding Bristol, Centre for Sustainable Energy and WECIL to help them to continue to provide essential support.

Earlier this year, the government provided us with funding to assist around 13,500 households already receiving partial Council Tax Reduction, allowing us to deduct up to £75 from their remaining council tax bills. This new allocation for the Household Support Fund will enable us to extend this offer for pensioners with up to an additional £25 being taken off remaining bills.

There is no application process for our Household Support Fund and we, or one of the associated charities also distributing funds, will contact people directly if they’re eligible. If you are not eligible and need financial support there is other help available through our Local Crisis Prevention Fund or Discretionary Housing Payments.

For cost of living advice and signposting please visit the Bristol City Council website or call the We Are Bristol helpline for free on 0800 694 0184, Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 5pm.

Free city-wide events in May and June

Councillor Craig Cheney, smiling, looking towards the camera.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Craig Cheney, cabinet member for Finance, Governance, Performance, and Culture.

The City Centre and High Streets Culture and Events Programme is delivering another packed programme of free events and entertainment across our city centre and Bristol’s nine priority high streets in May and June. Our investment will keep helping support businesses, the local economy, and the recovery of the culture and events sector.

Following last month’s blog, our funding continues to support existing markets and establish new ones. As well as adding diversity, complementing existing businesses, and boosting footfall, markets provide a great opportunity to test your business proposition before investing in property.

Returning for the first time this year on Friday 5 May, St Nick’s Night Market will help bring the Old City to life. From 5pm to 10pm visitors can enjoy a variety of entertainment and a wide selection of stalls selling food and drinks from local producers and suppliers.

Coronation: Knowle West Style will mark His Majesty The King’s Coronation on 6 May. Locals are invited to join in for a fun day of cake, crowns, and creativity, with activities and entertainment for young and old alike.

People from Stockwood are invited to share their sounds and stories to help create the Stockwood Sounds Audio Trail, a playful new community audio trail celebrating all things Stockwood. Join Brave Bold Drama in Stockwood Square on 13 and 14 May or 10 June.

Follow the exploits of Dr Fausty and Freya, two squabbling tour guides, on the Bristol Comedy History Walk. Delivered by Bristol Improv Theatre in partnership with Angie Belcher, the tour will provide a quirky look at the hidden histories of Bristol. Led by improv performers and comedians you can expect some hilarious alternative perspectives and sneaky Bristolian in-jokes. The 90-minute tours are fully accessible, and will run from May to August.

Actors from Bristol Improv's Comedy History Walk are pictured with laughing alongside an audience.

Spanning four weekends in May and June, Invisible Circus will present Weekends of Wonder (WOW), the first street performance festival of its kind in our city. From comedy and magic to giant kangaroos and adorable hedgehogs, veteran street artists will perform alongside cutting-edge new talent creating vibrant circus and theatrical performances in circle shows and interactive walkabout acts. WOW is inclusive, barrier free and open for everyone to enjoy.

Forming part of the Festival of Nature’s 20th anniversary event on Saturday 17 June, the Natural History Consortium are bringing The Walking Forest to the centre of Bristol. Follow the trees through the city and reconnect with nature as the immersive Walking Forest travels through town all the way to the Wild Weekend takeover at Millennium Square.

On 18 June, Bristol Cathedral will be celebrating Bristol 650, bringing together communities from across our city. The full day event will start at 10.30am with the Sunday morning service on College Green followed by live music, food and family friendly activities through until 5pm. 

A black and white still from Windrush 75: Stories through Film is pictured.

Bristol’s Summer Film Takeover, presented by Bristol UNESCO City of Film and partners, starts with Windrush 75: Stories through Film. To mark the 75th anniversary of Windrush and to celebrate the contribution of Bristol’s Afrikan-Caribbean community to the city, Bristol Museums are screening a dedicated programme of films on board the Vintage Mobile Cinema in Broadmead from 22 to 24 June. And showing in the evening of 22 June will be premiere of award-winning filmmaker Clive Smith’s “Bristol’s Afrikan-Caribbean Legends of Martial Arts” at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.

A Wall is a Screen: Secrets of the Old City promises to be a film night like no other. Join Encounters Festival and Hamburg-based collective A Wall is a Screen on 30 June for a guided evening walking tour exploring hidden architectural gem around the Old City and featuring a curated selection of short films projected onto nearby buildings to watch along the way. The event will be repeated on 16 September.

An image of a crowd cueing for A Wall is a Screen event in Hanburg.

Bristol Photo Festival are working with Historic England to deliver Picturing Bristol, an exciting programme of workshops and exhibitions to be showcased across Bristol over the summer in community spaces, local shops, unconventional venues, and the public space, highlighting our nine priority high streets.

The City Centre and High Streets Recovery and Renewal programme is funded by Bristol City Council and the West of England’s Combined Authority’s Love our High Streets project.

Thank you to everyone who’s helped support residents during the cost of living crisis

People who have supported Bristol during the national cost of living crisis are pictured in the Council Chamber at City Hall.

Bristol’s response to the national cost of living crisis has been incredible. Across our city, people have come together to provide residents support during difficult times. This afternoon, we hosted an event at City Hall to thank everyone for their tireless efforts over the winter.

One of the outstanding things about Bristol is that we are a city of doers, people who ‘can do’ and who want to make a difference. We saw this so vividly during the pandemic. We are so fortunate to have a wealth of citizens, community and voluntary organisations, and faith groups who offer a warm welcome every day. It is these community connections which strengthen communities, produce wellbeing, and build our resilience as a city so that when we need to respond to a crisis or emergency we can.

In March 2022 we were discussing the alarming rise in fuel prices and cost of living and the implications for the coming winter. We talked about the idea of warm spaces, and social justice has been a key principle. It was very important to everyone we didn’t create places where people would feel stigmatised, so we called them Welcoming Spaces. Our idea was that anyone and everyone would be welcome, no questions asked and the more people the better.

Early on I was approached by a private donor who was willing to fund Welcoming Spaces in the neighbourhoods where the impact would be greatest. Thank you to them.

We were able to work with Quartet and the Integrated Care Board to establish a One City fund to support a whole range of welcoming space activity, community hubs to extend the reach of advice organisations and emotional wellbeing support. Thank you to everyone who, with with Bristol City Council, contributed funding.

We could not have imagined, that we would have a network of over 100 Welcoming Spaces and that 86% of Bristol residents would be within 10 mins walk distance.  This has been a true One City collaboration where we each play to our strengths and share what resources we have.

Thank you to every one of you who has given your time and energy to make something happen in your community. What you do is priceless, it is what builds community and makes things possible.

Thank you all of you from the many community and voluntary organisations who work so incredibly hard keep so much of our community infrastructure going, building trusting, lasting connections with the communities you are part of. It is ongoing, difficult work requiring tenacity, ingenuity, and deep commitment. We know it doesn’t just happen and it doesn’t come free.

Thank you to city partners and Bristol City Council colleagues who have committed time, knowledge, and expertise to build this response. These things don’t happen because we will it; they happen because people see what needs doing and take action.

As a country we are in a very challenging place. Life is hard for many people and looks set to get harder for many people. The public sector is facing significant financial challenges as are community and voluntary sector colleagues. Resource comes in many forms, our job as city leaders is to harness those resources and make them available to communities.

We have achieved a lot and learned a lot in the past year. Today was about saying thank you, taking time to reflect on what we’ve learned as we move from crisis response to a lasting approach to build resilient communities.

Debt Awareness Week 2023

Jordan Thomas is pictured smiling, with moantains and trees in the background.
Today’s guest blog is from
Jordan Thomas, Project Coordinator
at Citizens Advice Bristol.

Citizens Advice Bristol is part of a network of advice agencies and services in the city who have been working together to coordinate our response to the national cost of living crisis.

As we mark DebtChange’s tenth Debt Awareness Week since its launch in 2014, many of those affected by debt will be under increased financial pressure as the national cost of living crisis continues. Energy price hikes, the rising cost of food and stagnant wages are not just creating debt for millions of people in the UK, but making it more difficult for those with existing debt to make repayments. Debt can affect anyone, and it is increasingly important to be aware of the services and support available to help manage debt, as well as the help available for managing food, energy, and benefit entitlements. 

While we cannot solve all of the challenges facing many Bristolians, we, together with other advice agencies, mental health workers and community groups are working together to put additional support in place for those who are most affected.

Across the UK, Citizens Advice alone is currently helping more than two people every minute with access to crisis support, like food bank referrals and charitable grants. This year more than 137,000 people have been referred for this type of support – a 50% increase on the same period last year, and a 167% increase on the same period in 2019. We’ve also helped 50,000 people with energy debts, and almost 15,000 people who couldn’t afford to top up their prepayment meter. This is over three times higher than the same period in 2021.

As part of our response, we have trained cost of living advice assistants who are currently working in some of the 100 Welcoming Spaces across the city bringing advice services into community spaces where everyone can access the support they need, in a place that is comfortable and safe.

They can provide help and support around welfare benefits, managing money, debt and discretionary support (food bank vouchers, energy vouchers and grants). They can also refer citizens onto other services or dedicated caseworkers for people with complex situations. Advice assistants are also available for several evening sessions in some Welcoming Spaces, to ensure access to the service for those working in the day who might otherwise be unable to access the same support. Please visit our website to find our current drop-in locations, days and times.

As Project Coordinator for our cost of living project, I have seen many citizens facing debt for the first time this year, many of whom were unaware of the help available to them. It can be just as important to understand the resources available to help avoid incurring debt, as it can be to manage existing debt. This is why we are drawing attention to advice and services that can help you navigate the cost of living crisis, as well as resources for dealing with debt. 

If you are worrying about the cost of living crisis you are not alone and there is support out there. The support you can get will depend on your circumstances but you can read helpful information and guidance from Citizens Advice and find out how to contact Citizens Advice Bristol on our website.

For advice on managing debt:

See our comprehensive debt and money webpage for advice on managing debt, as well as bankruptcy, IVAs, debt management plans or debt relief and administration orders. You can also find guidance here on budgeting, mortgage problems, rent arrears, creditors, borrowing, banking, pensions, tax, financial advice and gambling problems

Other organisations we recommend:


  • Use Bristol City Council’s benefits calculator to find out whether you’re eligible for financial help
  • WECIL – benefits advice with a focus on those who have a disability or health condition
  • Age UK – benefits for anyone aged 55 years or over
  • Macmillan – benefits advice for people living with cancer or their loved ones
  • Carers UK – for people looking after a friend or family member

The council’s Welfare Rights and Money Advice Service can support with benefits-related issues for a range of eligible clients, services and organisations in Bristol, including vulnerable people on low incomes, Disabled people and full-time carers. Support workers in services commissioned by the council can refer eligible individuals for money and debt advice.

Don’t forget you can also speak to one of our advice assistants in various Welcoming Spaces.

If you need advice on any other cost of living-related issues you can also get in touch with:

Bristol City Council’s cost of living support webpage has plenty of additional guidance and signposting on food, benefits, housing, employment, or mental health and emotional wellbeing. As well as information on the Welcoming Spaces in Bristol.

English Tourism Week: visit Bristol!

Kathryn Davis, managing director at Visit West, smiling, with building in the background.
Today’s guest blog is from Kathryn Davis,
Managing Director at Visit West

Yesterday marked the start of English Tourism Week, designed to raise the profile of the visitor economy and celebrate our people, places, and businesses. Traditionally, this marks the beginning of the tourism season, but a city like Bristol is a big destination for visitors throughout the year.

2019 was a record breaking year for Bristol’s visitor economy, valued at an estimated £1.1 billion. In 2021, this was £776 million, and we will know the results for 2022 later this year but it is clear that business has returned in a very different way after the pandemic, and that we are still missing some of our international visitors.

Whether people come for a day, a week, or longer, and whatever the reason they come, the investment into high street shopping and dining is quite phenomenal: spending almost £500 million during 2021, when the industry was only open for eight months. That’s supporting our amazing places, benefiting local people and communities.

Our aim is to ensure that the benefits of the visitor economy are distributed across Bristol. You will see boats, bridges, Brunel, and Banksy splashed across travel articles and social media, often being the hook inspiring new visits. However, there are some incredible walking tours outside of the city centre, that I guarantee will teach you something you didn’t already know. Boat trips, bike rides, museums, galleries, escape rooms, breweries, distilleries, cooking classes, clubs to dance in, sport to watch, and play, axes to throw, and music and food from every corner of the world.

Our local communities are critical to the success of our economy, so get involved. Use English Tourism week to do something different, discover a new place, see a new exhibition, and live like a tourist for a day. There are loads of ideas for all budgets at for you, your family and friends, for now or to plan ahead.

There is a very particular term for this type of travel – Visiting Friends and Relatives or VFR. It’s really important and often overlooked, so every time you welcome someone to Bristol, you are doing your bit. Where do you take your family and friends?

Also often forgotten are those coming for business events.  Even in the zoom world, we see people desperate to bring together teams whether locally, nationally, and globally, whether corporate, association, academic, or social. Often delegates will make the most of their stay by adding extra days to make the most of their time, getting to explore our local culture and heritage. Some bring their families too, turning a work trip into a holiday.

People visit Bristol for many reasons, and in this year of major anniversaries, not least 650 years of Bristol being an independent county, why not make the most of the incredible experiences on our doorstep and live life like a tourist.

For More follow @visitbristol on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, or go to