Category Archives: Health and Wellbeing

World Alzheimer’s Day 2023

Councillor Helen Holland is pictured, smiling, with Bristol Cathedral and trees on College Green behind her.
This guest blog is from Councillor Helen Holland, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and the Integrated Care System, and Labour Councillor for Hartcliffe and Withywood Ward.

Today is World Alzheimer’s Day, aiming to raise awareness globally and challenge the stigma around Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia. In Bristol there are more than 4,000 people living with dementia, with as many as 3,000 people living with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia.

Our loved ones are our world and our world changes when we, or someone we love is told ‘you have Alzheimer’s disease.’ For anyone who is living with Alzheimer’s or supporting a loved one with the illness, we know that Alzheimer’s is more than ‘just’ losing memories or becoming forgetful, or simply just ‘getting older.’

Some people live well with the disease for several years and more, others simply will not. Alzheimer’s will progress too quickly, and the person will lose their memories and their ability to live a healthy, independent and full life.

Unlike cancer, there are no treatments to halt and stop the disease, no chemotherapy, no surgery to remove Alzheimer’s from the brain, no opportunities for a recovery. Across the city, dedicated dementia researchers are working hard to develop medications, treatments, and better understand the causes of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

BRACE Dementia Research, a leading local charity, has been funding important research in Bristol since 1987 with the aim of one day, defeating dementia. BRACE has supported the development of an early, accurate and fast Alzheimer’s diagnostic test, Fastball. The test has shown promising signs of accurately diagnosing the disease years before noticeable symptoms.

A volunteer is pictured wearing the wireless EEG cap and doing tasks on a laptop for BRACE's Fastball Alzheimer's diagnostic test.

Why is early diagnosis important?

To stop Alzheimer’s, researchers need to be targeting the disease at the earliest possible stages and this test offers hope.

The Fastball test is now being researched at the Bristol Brain Centre, thanks to the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) who have provided additional funding to the researchers who invented the test. If positive and accurate results are produced on a large scale, then the Fastball test will be developed for wider use across the NHS.

If researchers can accurately study Alzheimer’s years earlier than previously possible, which the Fastball test may be able to do, then it changes how the disease can be tackled and how treatments, including drugs, can be developed and how soon these can be offered to people living with the disease.

The new Alzheimer’s drugs hitting the headlines are an exciting breakthrough, showing positive research results in slowing down the disease, but there is still more work to be done, and perhaps Fastball may play an important part in this work.

Alzheimer’s and loved ones

While no one wants to receive the news ‘you have Alzheimer’s,’ an early diagnosis also gives an individual, and their loved ones, time to prepare and to choose the next phase of life.

What do they want to do, see, achieve in the next five years? Travel the world or make adjustments to their home to live there independently, for as long as possible, are just a few priorities.

Research also shows that lifestyle choices can protect the brain for longer, even once an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is given, such as stopping smoking, regular exercise, and a healthy diet.

I sincerely hope that in my lifetime there will be a cure for Alzheimer’s. We must keep talking about it, supporting people living with the disease and investing more into dementia research.

A red logo is pictured against a white background, with a microphone on the left of text reading: BRACE; Lets Talk Dementia.

Learn more about Alzheimer’s

If you are living with Alzheimer’s, caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, or interested in learning more, I encourage you to join BRACE at their free Let’s Talk Dementia event on Saturday 30 September between 10am and 5pm.

The free public event at Paintworks is a chance for families to learn more about Alzheimer’s and dementia in a friendly setting. Meet dementia experts, therapy dogs and enjoy many other family friendly sessions such as visiting the inflatable brain dome for a short show, or take part in an art session.

Tickets are free and it is recommended to book in advance:

Food Justice Fortnight

Ped Asgarian is pictured speaking at the launch of Feeding Bristol's Food Justice Fortnight.
Today’s guest blog is from Ped
Asgarian, Director of Feeding Bristol.

It’s been a difficult year for many people in this country. The national cost-of-living crisis, which has been fuelled by a combination of Brexit, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the war in Ukraine, has forced more people to live in poverty and struggle to make ends meet.

Double digit inflation has led to wages falling in real terms, meaning that the gap in disposable income between the poorest and richest in the UK is continuing to rise, when it should be falling. When there is an abundance of wealth, it is a great injustice that anyone should struggle to afford or access food in the 21st century.

With record numbers of people experiencing food inequality in our society, community groups and organisations have been working harder than ever to support the most vulnerable. Working together as a society is how we can begin to effect positive change and transform the food system into one that is just and fair for everybody.

The Feeding Bristol logo is pictured on the top of the image, with a blue background. Below text with black highlighting reads: Food Justice Fortnight starts 26th June.

Bristol’s Food Justice Fortnight is an opportunity to raise awareness of issues we are facing locally and highlight the amazing work that is happening in the city. Starting on the 26 June with the launch of the One City Food Equality Action Plan, there will be a host of events around Bristol showcasing the amazing work that is happening across communities and neighbourhoods.

Food Justice is about addressing structural inequalities that disproportionately impact the most disadvantaged individuals and communities. It’s about looking at every aspect of the food system, from growing food, to how it’s distributed, how we access it and how we use it in our homes. Just as important is and importantly, taking an equitable approach to achieve positive change.

Mayor Marvin Rees is pictured, speaking on stage from behind a lectern.

At the heart of Food Justice are the principles of working collaboratively and co-producing solutions with those who are most significantly impacted by food inequality. Building connected and resilient communities helps facilitate this approach, which is why Feeding Bristol are co-hosting events with community groups and bringing people together to share ideas, opinions and of course, good food!

The One City Food Equality Action Plan was produced in collaboration with residents who have lived experience of food inequality and organisations that are working to make a positive difference in their communities. Events during Food Justice Fortnight will showcase these actions and start discussions on how we can take the first steps to achieving them, ensuring that the people of Bristol are also included in the next stage of the Food Equality Action Plan.

Food Justice Fortnight is a chance for you to listen and learn from others and to share your own thoughts and ideas on the changes we need and how, together, we can make them a reality.

You can sign up to events through our website.

Feeding Bristol's Food Justice Fortnight events programme is pictured. The Feeding Bristol logo is in the top left of the image, to it's right is the Food Justice Fortnight logo and on the top right is a scannable barcode for tickets. Below Blag Text reads Event Programme. Below this is a list of events that are happening spanning from Monday 26th June to Saturday 8th July. At the bottom of the image, blue text reads: Scan QR code in top left corner for tickets or visit for schedule with links.

Bristol Good Food 2030 framework launches

Councillor Ellie King is pictured, smiling, with Bristol's City Hall in the background.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Ellie King, Cabinet Member for Communities and Public Health and Labour Councillor for Hillfields ward.

Food is a necessity. But, for many, putting food that is healthy, delicious, appropriate and sustainably produced on to the table is extremely challenging. We’ve seen that through the national cost of living crisis, people had to make the stark choice between putting their heating on or eating, let alone consider what good food looks like to them..

That is why over the past 12 months, we have been working with the Bristol Food Network, as well as a diverse range of partners, to develop Bristol Good Food 2030: A One City Framework for Action.

Launched today, the framework sets out priorities and initiatives which aim to make Bristol’s food system better for people and communities, climate and nature, workers and businesses.

The way all of us produce, buy, cook, eat and throw away food in Bristol is important. It can impact our health, our communities, and our economy, and contributes to the climate and ecological emergencies the planet faces. The framework aims to transform the city’s system within the decade, addressing these issues across the city to build a resilient food system that is good for Bristol.

Representatives from organisations, community groups, institutions and citizens joined the Bristol Good Food partnership. In order to develop a framework, the group set up working groups based on themes, each with a different one to focus on. Ultimately, they have all been working towards the same goal, to create the framework and develop a collaborative approach.

The six themes focussed on in the framework are:

  • Eating better – cook, eat well and share more
  • Food justice – access to good food and food fairness
  • Food waste – reduce, redistribute and recycle
  • Good food governance – ensure strong food policies and plans
  • Local food economy – help diverse food businesses thrive
  • Urban growing – grow good food in and around the city

Food sits at the heart of many of the challenges facing our city.

Results from 2023’s Quality of Life survey highlighted that food insecurity is notably worse than last year and pre-pandemic. Eight per cent of respondents told us they are now experiencing moderate or worse food insecurity, doubling to sixteen per cent in the most deprived areas.

The way that food is produced, distributed, bought and sold, wasted and disposed of, is a major contributor to the climate and ecological emergencies too. 46 per cent of the Bristol population also struggle to maintain a healthy weight.

The framework sets out goals that we would like to meet in the next decade, including:

  • More food in the city is sourced from local, regional and sustainable suppliers
  • The best and most suitable land for growing food is identified and protected and the volume of land used for nature-friendly food growing has increased significantly
  • Locally produced, sustainable, culturally appropriate and nutritious food is accessible and affordable for everyone
  • Skills to cook, grow and choose climate-friendly, healthy food are taught in schools 
  • Less than ten per cent of household food waste ends up in black bins

Many of the goals set out in the framework need national policy change and, while progress on this has been frustratingly slow, the framework underpins and adds to the work we’re already doing as a council adminstration to support families and reduce food poverty in our city.

The Household Support Fund (HSF) has allowed us to ensure those who are eligible receive free school meal (FSM) vouchers. In the last financial year, the £8 million of funding we secured from the government for the HSF provided support to over 91,000 households. This included almost 23,000 children and young people being given FSM vouchers during school holidays.

Last year, £1.8 million of funding from the government’s Holiday Activities and Food programme enabled us to provide activities and food over the holidays through Your Holiday Hub for people in receipt of benefits-related free school meals. For additional support residents that are more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4, may be eligible to get help to buy healthy food and milk with the NHS Healthy Start scheme.

The framework embraces meaningful collaboration with residents and communities, and truly captures what good food looks like across Bristol. I am proud to live in a city that has the ambition, expertise, diversity and determination to achieve the goals set out in this framework.

To read the Bristol Good Food 2030 framework in full, visit the Bristol One City website. For more information about the framework and action plans head to the Bristol Good Food 2030 website.

A £3.4 million boost to active travel in Bristol

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

From upgrading pedestrian crossings to creating segregated routes for cyclists, we’re continuing to work to make walking and cycling safer and more pleasant across the city.

That is why I am thrilled that at this month’s Cabinet meeting, we agreed to accept £3.4 million funding secured from the Department for Transport as part of Tranche 4 of the Active Travel Fund, which is administered by the West of England Combined Authority.

We will use £1.6 million of this to deliver our Old City and King Street pedestrian scheme, which is a priority for the Mayor and our administration. Construction work is set to get underway later this year to make the changes permanent, and work should be completed by March 2024.

The project includes:

  • Creating a segregated cycle path on Queen Charlotte Street
  • Pavement widening
  • Improving the King Street and Queen Charlotte Street junction through accessibility and safety features for pedestrians
  • A new zebra crossing on Crow Lane
  • New cycle parking in the area
A concept image of Old Market gap is pictured.

Improving the infrastructure of this historic part of the city, so it is safe and accessible, will help to improve air quality and create an attractive space that will be a further boost to local businesses, while making sure it is appropriate for this iconic part of Bristol.

We will use £871,000 of the funding to draw up detailed plans for four proposed active travel schemes, which includes:  

  • Deanery Road
  • Filwood Quietway
  • Malago Greenway
  • Old Market Quietway

Improvements could include segregated cycle paths, upgraded or new crossings, upgraded junctions, and wayfinding.

Work will now take place to design these schemes so they are ready to be constructed, at which point we would need to seek more funding. We will of course run engagement exercises and consult with residents, traders and businesses throughout the process.

The remaining £915,599 of the funding will go towards installing cycle hangars across Bristol and the wider region. These are lockable pods used to store bikes safely on the street, which should encourage even more people to get on their bikes regularly.

People are pictured walking and cycling in pedestrianised Cotham Hill.

News of the successful Active Travel funding bid follows hot on the heels of work getting underway this month on two more of our active travel projects – improving Bristol Bridge for people who walk and cycle and our pedestrianisation scheme at Cotham Hill. You can find out more about these projects in my recent guest blog.

All these active travel projects, and more in the pipeline, will make it easier and safer to walk and cycle, which is great for our health and wellbeing as we work to encourage more sustainable ways to move about the city.

What’s next for open water swimming in Bristol Harbour

It’s been remarkable to see the positive response to our Harbour swimming pilot, which came to a close over the Whitsun bank holiday weekend. These swim sessions have been immensely popular, all selling out in advance even when additional spaces were made available.

We began with 80 swimmers per session and gradually increased spaces to 150 in response to demand, and to accommodate those who missed out after the swim sessions on the 6 and 7 May were cancelled due to the impact of the fire at Underfall Yard.

I know many of you will have seen the images of the devastating fire at Underfall Yard earlier this month. Although works are expected to begin soon, with a crane due on site next week to lower the burnt overhead beams and allow for a structural survey to be carried out safely, Underfall Yard Visitor Centre and Café remain open as usual to visitors and customers. Most of the businesses based at the yard are still trading and events are being planned to take place throughout the summer.

Over the five weeks, we ran eight two-hour swim sessions with a total of 653 swimmers taking a dip in Baltic Wharf. We took an amazing 920 bookings for sessions, not including the 200 for the cancelled sessions. The water quality was tested throughout the pilot and consistently met Excellent Bathing Water Standards. We also monitored costs, popularity, and any impact on our ability to maintain a safe environment​ and will be reviewing this information along with feedback from participants and the wider public.

Two people are pictured swimming in Bristol harbour.

I’ve really enjoyed hearing people’s stories of their experiences and the vibrant, uplifting atmosphere in Baltic Wharf during the swimming sessions. It’s been a great activity to bring to the city. We’re continuing our work and discussions with our partners, Uswim and All-Aboard Water Sports, to look at the possibility of providing a designated open water swimming area in the Harbour on a regular basis.

Feedback received so far has been very positive, with swimmers commenting on how well organised the sessions were, the friendly and supportive staff on hand and how great an opportunity it was to swim in the Harbour with the picturesque views of Bristol beside you.

Initial survey responses show that the majority of swimmers:

  • were very satisfied with their Harbour swimming experience
  • strongly agreed or agreed that the pilot was good value for money
  • rated the location in the Harbour used for the swimming pilot as a very good place to swim
  • are keen to return once a week or more if we make swimming sessions a permanent feature in the Harbour

We’re keen to hear from people who swam during our pilot sessions to find out more about what they thought of their Harbour swimming experience. Your feedback will help us understand how we might adapt the swim sessions and facilities (including for changing and storing belongings) to best meet swimmers’ needs, if the decision is made to continue swimming sessions beyond our pilot. So, I’d encourage anyone who has received a link to our online survey to complete it and submit your answers.

A huge thank you goes out to everyone, especially to the volunteers, who made sure that those taking part had a safe and enjoyable Harbour swimming experience, and in doing so contributed to the success and positive response to our pilot.

Swimmers are pictured, waving, in Bristol Harbour, with safety equipment in the background.

Please do remember, and continue to share with others, that, without prior consent from the Harbour Master, it remains unsafe and against the bylaws to swim in the Harbour, Cumberland Basin, or other waterways in Bristol.

Our city’s Harbour is a working one, with boats and other watercraft of varying sizes moving up and down the surface throughout the day. Without professional safety supervision and direction, there are a number of significant dangers associated with entering Bristol’s waterways. These include cold water shock, getting hit by a boat, hazardous or discarded objects under the water and occasional very strong currents due to tides.

Please stay out of the water and continue to use one of the many pools available in the city or formal open water swimming venues outside of Bristol. If you get into trouble near the water, or notice someone who needs help in the water, call 999 and ask for the Fire and Rescue Service.

Dementia Action Week 2023

Ben Dellow is pictured smiling at an awards ceremony.
Today’s guest blog is from Ben Dellow, Local Systems Influencing Officer
at the Alzheimer’s Society.

We are excited to see City Hall lit up in forget-me-not blue tonight, to mark the start of Dementia Action Week 2023. With more than 4,000 people aged 65 and over currently living with dementia in Bristol, it’s vitally important that we raise awareness of the condition and ensure dementia is a priority locally and nationally.

Dementia Action Week is Alzheimer’s Society’s biggest and longest running awareness-raising campaign, calling on people across the UK to act on dementia. Nearly 1,500 of the 4,000 people living with dementia in Bristol are without a formal diagnosis, meaning they’re facing the challenges the condition poses alone. This is why this year’s Dementia Action Week is focused on increasing dementia diagnosis rates. 

In February 2022, the dementia diagnosis rate in Bristol was 69%, above the national average of 62% and the national ambition of 66.7%. This is in no small part thanks to the brilliant work of the Bristol Dementia Wellbeing Service. The service has made great strides in tackling the barriers preventing people from accessing a timely diagnosis.

Founded in 2015 as a partnership between the NHS and Alzheimer’s Society, the Dementia Wellbeing Service has reduced waiting times to the point that 95% of service users have a first appointment booked within 10 days. Meanwhile, through its Community Development Coordinators, the service has promoted dementia awareness and enabled seldom heard from groups to access support. This means the service is widely known as the go-to for dementia support across the city.

Despite this progress, many people in Bristol are still living with undiagnosed dementia and unable to access vital care and support that is needed to live well. We want to encourage those who might be living without a diagnosis to understand and recognise potential dementia symptoms and feel empowered to take their next step.

Getting a diagnosis can be daunting, but we believe it’s always better to know. And so do 91% of people living with dementia. Alzheimer’s Society research found that people living with dementia felt getting a diagnosis benefitted them in more ways than one. It allowed them to plan for their future, receive practical advice, feel a sense of relief through understanding their condition, and get medication to help manage the symptoms of dementia. More importantly, it helped them avoid crisis points.

Alzheimer's society's logo is pictured with a blue flow. Text reads Alzheimer's Society Together we are help & hope for everyone living with dementia.

Empowering individuals and their families to seek a timely diagnosis and avoid reaching these crisis points is therefore vital. However, in addition to illustrating numerous benefits of a timely diagnosis, our research uncovered several barriers preventing people from seeking a diagnosis. Along with misconceptions around memory loss being a normal part of ageing, we found being in denial and specialist referral times to be the biggest barriers to getting people to seek a diagnosis.

The key message we want to share this Dementia Action Week is that dementia isn’t called getting old – it’s called getting ill. If you’re worried about symptoms that could be signs of dementia, you can access our symptoms checklist here. This tool can help begin conversations with health professionals and is endorsed by the Royal College of General Practitioners.

We want everyone affected by dementia to know that whoever you are, whatever you are going through, you can turn to Alzheimer’s Society for support, help and advice. Visit Alzheimer’s Society’s website ( or call 0333 150 3456 for more information.

Listen, Respect, Act: two films raise awareness of domestic abuse

A picture taken at the private screening at watershed cinema, to mark the release of two films raising awareness of domestic abuse. 
Today’s guest blog is from the Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Victim and Survivor Forum.

Last month, stakeholders and service providers from across the city were brought together at the Watershed cinema to attend a private screening marking the release of two films about domestic abuse. 

Created in partnership between the Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Victim and Survivor Forum (DASV) and Bristol based production company Criss Cross films, the films aim to raise awareness of the signs and impact of domestic abuse. 

With financial support from Public Health England, a second film was created to engage with and support the training of front-line staff from health, social, family justice, and policing to support a better understanding of domestic abuse, perpetrator behaviour and the devastating and long-term harm caused to victims, families, and communities when failures are made. 



Founded by Bristol City Council’s Keeping Bristol Safe Partnership in 2021, the Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Victim and Survivor Forum (DASV) is formed of female victims with lived experience of Domestic Abuse. The purpose of the DASV Forum is to strategically inform on Bristol’s domestic abuse and sexual violence services, highlighting both good and bad practice to encourage action at local and national level, ensuring a proactive approach to safeguarding children, adults, and communities.

The amazing work that the DASV Forum is doing would not be possible without the incredible support and hard work of Jennifer Wills, Participation Project Officer at Bristol City Council’s Keeping Bristol Safe Partnership, who works tirelessly to support members in sharing their lived experience and using their voices to make positive and impactful change in our city. 

If you would like to hear more about the DASV Forum or have lived experience of domestic abuse and would like to apply to be a member, please visit their website.

Your Holiday Hub: supporting families during the Easter school holidays

Councillor Asher Craig is pictured, smiling, with trees behind her.
This blog is from Cllr Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor for Children Services, Education, and Equalities and Labour Councillor for St George West ward.

With the Easter school holidays just around the corner, activity providers across Bristol are gearing up to welcome thousands of children and young people as part of our Your Holiday Hub programme.

Every weekday over the Easter school holidays (3 April to 14 April) fun activities and food clubs will run across Bristol, including arts and craft, sports camp, and forest school. Children and young people from Reception to Year 11 who receive benefits related free school meals during term time will be able to access Your Holiday Hub for free. Alongside Your Holiday Hub, children and young people who receive free school meals will also receive free school meal vouchers for the duration of the school holidays.

Central to the Your Holiday Hub programme is food. Children and young people participating in Your Holiday Hub activities will receive a free hot meal with each four-hour activity. The aim of the programme is to ensure our children and young people have access to healthy meals during the school holidays. We also want them to be inspired to take in interest in where their food comes from and what it means to lead a healthy lifestyle through interactive food workshops.

Food is a source of celebration and connection, it connects families, communities, and cultures. Easter celebrations are often associated with food following 40 days of Lent, where traditionally food is restricted. This year, the Easter school holidays also coincide with the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. With over 31,000 Muslims in Bristol, Ramadan is considered the most important time of the year for many families. During this period, observers of the tradition refrain from eating, drinking and other physical needs from dawn until dusk. However, the significance of food during Ramadan cannot be overstated because it’s the time when friends and families come together in the evening to break the fast, strengthening their community bonds through food. This year, several activity providers are catering for families who are partaking in Ramadan by offering evening meals and food to take home.

Young people and parents attend a pond, with an allotment in the background. This is at Your Holiday Hub's activities club.

Learning Partnership West is one of the providers offering food and activities over the holidays. Pete Woods, head of Learning Partnership West (LPW) has told us:

“We run weekly LPW Urban Park sessions in Barton Hill and have done for ten years. The aim of this project is to deliver high quality activities in one of the most diverse communities in Bristol.

“As the holidays fall during Ramadan, we will be making some special adjustments to our provision. We will be providing food boxes supplied by our wonderful chef to be opened at home for young people who are fasting during daylight hours, and hot food will be provided to non-fasting children and young people during the day.”

Your Holiday Hub is a fantastic initiative which celebrates Bristol’s rich food culture through activities and

A full list of activities can be found on the Your Holiday Hub website and can be filtered according to age, activity, and location.

Mayor Marvin Rees is pictured arm wrestling with a student of Compass Point primary school.

For info:

Free school meal vouchers will be distributed through the schools, please contact your child’s school for more information.

If you have a child with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), please contact the holiday provider directly to discuss your child’s individual needs.

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.

A new chapter for Jacobs Wells Baths

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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