Category Archives: Health and Wellbeing

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

Investing in a healthier future for Bristol

Over £8 million of investment for Bristol’s major leisure and sporting facilities has been confirmed. This is part of a new 15-year deal between the council and Everyone Active, creating more opportunities for Bristol residents to keep active and improve their health. Everyone Active is also utilising £4.7 million of their own funds over the course of our contract with them.

The council’s new contract will see Everyone Active continue to manage Horfield Leisure Centre, Bristol South Swimming Pool, Henbury Leisure Centre, Easton Leisure Centre, and St Pauls Community Sports Academy.

We know that exercising regularly is great for both the body and mind, but access to good facilities for all levels of fitness and accessibility needs can be an issue. This investment shows our continued commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of residents in Bristol. There will be extensive refurbishment work taking place over the next three years at all sites. This includes a range of decarbonisation measures which will be rolled out to maximise energy conservation. The work planned will include renovating the Everyone Active centres and providing new, modern facilities for people to enjoy.

Larger fitness suites will be unveiled with the latest equipment suitable for all levels including free weights, strength and conditioning, and functional training kit. In addition to this, state-of-the-art studios, 3G pitch replacements, brand new soft play areas and cafes are included in the investment plans.

Bristol South Swimming Pool, is in the background. With the pool's sign in the foreground. Everyone Active's logo and Bristol City Council's logo is on the sign. White text reads Bristol South Swimming Pool.

My administration has always had a strong focus on social value and the council will be working alongside Everyone Active to collaborate with local schools and colleges to support local people into employment with new opportunities, apprenticeships, and work placements at these centres.

Everyone Active has appointed a Civic Partnership Manager to directly focus on social value in Bristol, to work with other agencies to encourage participation outside the leisure facilities. This will include improving overall levels of health and wellbeing and reducing anti-social behaviour by using activity for positive behaviour change.

As we move towards our One City Climate Strategy to become carbon neutral and climate resilient by 2030, the refurbishment of these facilities will reflect our ambition. We are ensuring the plans include ways to maximise energy conservation across the refurbished buildings, including decarbonisation

The council continues to make great progress on working with its preferred bidder Elite Sport to make sure new lease arrangements are in place for Kingsdown Sports Centre from the 1 April 2023, so the community can carry on enjoying sports and taking part in valuable exercise. I am pleased that Jubilee Swimming Pool, which recently transferred into community ownership, also continues to deliver local services for local people.

The new contract with Everyone Active will begin on 1 April 2023.

Continued support for Bristol’s Clean Air Zone

A Bristol Clean Air Zone sign, is pictured at the top of Park Street.

Bristol’s Clean Air Zone was introduced on 28 November last year to help protect the people of our city from the harmful effects of air pollution. We have a moral and legal duty to deliver cleaner air.

We knew that some people would need more time to adapt to the Clean Air Zone which is why we negotiated initial exemptions and secured extensions until 31 March. After four months, most of these exemptions will come to an end on 1 April. 

Overall, around four out of five vehicles driving in the zone already meet the zone’s requirements and aren’t being charged anything. This is a great step in the right direction.

Bristol has been instructed by government to introduce measures that will bring our city’s air quality within legal levels in the shortest possible time. This is because the nitrogen dioxide (NO2) which comes from older and more polluting vehicles has a serious impact on our health.

With that in mind, we have made sure that support is still available to Bristol’s residents and businesses who may need more help after exemptions end. Back in 2021, we secured a package of £42 million funding to help people to find ways to make their journeys in and around our city more sustainable. This is much more funding than other cities which have implemented Clean Air Zones

Grants and loans are still on offer to help you upgrade to a vehicle that won’t be charged in the zone. This doesn’t have to be a brand new or electric vehicle – it can be second hand as long as it meets the zone’s emissions standards. Support is available to Bristol based businesses and those on an income of less than £27,000, including Blue Badge holders. The £27,000 threshold is one which we had to push the government on too. It’s a lot higher than the £22,000 cap that was originally proposed.

It’s not too late to apply for this financial assistance and I would encourage anyone who needs support after March to get in touch by registering your interest on our website as soon as possible.

We also have free active travel offers available to anyone that lives or works in Bristol. This includes bike and e-bike trials, cycle training, VOI e-Scooter credit, bus and train taster tickets and car club credit. These offers are a great opportunity for people in Bristol to try out new ways of travelling that are better for their health, wellbeing, and the environment too. Changing just a few of your journeys each week can make a big difference. Apply on our website now to receive your free travel offers.

If you need advice or guidance about the Clean Air Zone, you can contact our team of advisors who are always happy to help. Take a look at the information on our webpages or give us a call on 0117 903 6385.

CPR could be the most important lesson you ever learn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To support the British Heart Foundation this Heart Month, visit  


Providing a safe space for open water swimming in Bristol

Bristol's Harbour is pictured, with houses in the background and boats in the foreground. White text in the bottom left corner of the image reads: Harbour swimming pilot to launch in March. The Mayor of Bristol's logo can also be seen.

Open water swimming has become increasingly popular over recent years and we know there are many groups and individuals in Bristol who want the opportunity to enjoy it safely.

It can be hard to imagine when you’re faced with the thought of wading out into cold water but there are proven health benefits. Cold water swimming can boost your immune system, metabolism, and increase happiness- so why shouldn’t we give it a go? We have listened to people’s requests for a safe swimming space in our harbour and have been working with local and experienced partners to explore how we can make this a reality.

Bristol’s harbour is a working area in an integral part of the city. To make sure we can offer an area that is safe to swim there must be measures in place to ensure the health and safety of all harbour users. This means having an area of our harbour cordoned-off to create a course specifically for swimming which can be safely accessed. There will be lifeguards and safety boats to help to keep people using the swimming facility safe. Otherwise it remains unsafe to swim in the harbour or other waterways in Bristol, as we continue to highlight through safety campaigns and signage around the docks.

We have also been working with partners like Wessex Water to check the water quality and look at how we can put in place additional testing to ensure it is safe before allowing people into the water.  We have been drawing on the expertise of All Aboard, based alongside the Cottage, and Uswim, the open water swim specialists who also operate sites around the country, and are working with them and local partners towards an open water swim trial for Bristol’s harbour this spring.

After an initial test swim in March, our aim is to run one-hour public swim sessions on Saturday and Sunday mornings for five weeks starting on 29 April. The sessions will be available to pre-book online at a cost of £7 per person – this small charge allows us to have in place the necessary water safety provisions. In the meantime, stay out of the harbour and swim at one of our city’s many pools.

This trial will allow us to assess whether or not we can provide a designated open water swimming area that is safe and financially sustainable – this is pertinent given the current financial challenges faced by the council in general and the harbour in particular.

Throughout the pilot we will monitor costs, up-take, and any impact on our ability to maintain a safe environment throughout our harbour. The health and safety of all harbour users is our first priority and, along with other members of the Bristol Water Safety Partnership, our harbour staff work hard to prevent accidents and maintain a safe waterway so that people can enjoy all our harbour has to offer. This cannot be compromised.