Category Archives: Health and Wellbeing

Bristol’s Clean Air Zone launches in 3 months

The photo shows Bristol's clean air zone signs. The grey sign has a circle emblem at the top, with a half green half white cloud with the letter D. Red text boxes below read Bristol Clean Air Zone, Coming soon, charges will apply. CleanAirForBristol.org, underneath is a white sign showing there are cameras nearby.

This week we have reached an important milestone: three months to go until the launch of Bristol’s Clean Air Zone on 28 November. Its introduction will be another big step forward on our journey to creating a healthier city with cleaner air for all.

We’ve sought to introduce Bristol’s Clean Air Zone in a way that protects the most deprived households in our city as well as our trades and businesses. That is why we’ve secured over £42 million to support the switch to cleaner vehicles, alongside wider support with the national cost of living crisis.

I also know that many people will need more time to prepare for the zone which is why we’re offering temporary exemptions to help make this change easier. I’m pleased to announce that the government have agreed to our request to extend the temporary exemption period until the end of March 2023. Applications for exemptions will open in late September.

We’re helping Bristol’s businesses and residents prepare for the zone with our financial support schemes. Almost three-quarters of drivers won’t be charged because their vehicles already meet emissions standards, and many businesses have already upgraded their fleets to cleaner vehicles.

Grants and interest free loans are currently 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.

If you are impacted, there is still time to apply for financial support. I would urge anyone affected to get in touch with our team today to find out how we can help you. You can find out more about financial support on our website.

As well as transitioning to cleaner vehicles, we want to encourage Bristol residents to switch to more sustainable modes of travel. We’ve secured over £5.9 million of support to help make this a reality.

Our free travel offers include bike and e-bike trials, cycle training, VOI e-Scooter credit, bus tickets, and planning sessions with travel experts to help people explore all their options for their regular journeys. 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. Anyone who lives or works in Bristol is eligible to receive the free offers and can apply on our website now.

If you haven’t already, check whether your vehicle will be charged and visit the council website to find out how we can help you upgrade your vehicle or try a different way of travelling.

We know that Clean Air Zones are successful at tackling air pollution. One year after launching their zone, our neighbours in Bath have seen nitrogen dioxide concentrations reduced by 21 per cent inside the zone and a 22 per cent reduction in the urban area outside the zone. Bristol is introducing the same class of Clean Air Zone as Birmingham. In one year, nitrogen dioxide levels within their zone have dropped by an average of 13% compared to pre-covid levels.

Launching ‘Keep Bristol Cool’

Heatwaves

An overview image of Bristol Harbour, with building covering the centre and left side of the image. On the right of the image the harbour sits with the sun reflecting of the surface, with boats lining the dock and one boat going through the water. In the background the sun clears through the skies with a silhouette of the hills in the background
Bristol Harbour with the sun setting

This summer we have witnessed record-breaking hot weather in the UK. We saw the first red weather warning for extreme heat, with temperatures reaching record high of 36 degrees locally. Throughout the last week we had another official amber warning of extreme heat with temperatures consistently in the mid-30s.

Heatwaves are becoming more frequent and intense, creating unique challenges for cities such as Bristol. Urban heat risks affect everything from health to the environment, transport to telecommunications, as well as creating increased demand for cool places.

Bristol is responding to these challenges through innovation. After becoming the first city in the UK to declare climate and ecological emergencies, we are leading the way in decarbonising our city, reducing Bristol’s emissions by over 40% since 2005. Keep Bristol Cool is the next pioneering tool to help our city become more climate resilient.

Keep Bristol Cool

Keep Bristol Cool is our new mapping tool that highlights which areas of our city are most vulnerable to extreme heat.

The mapping tool was made possible by the UK Climate Resilience Programme and Met Office Urban Climate Service team.

We are the first city in the UK to develop an online tool of this kind, using data on current heat vulnerability and climate change to explore where heatwaves could have the biggest impact on people’s health and wellbeing.

The tool allows users to explore how heat vulnerability varies from neighbourhood to neighbourhood by bringing together information on population, homes, and local environment. Climate maps explore how the number of warm nights and hot days are predicted to change over the next twenty years and beyond.

We’ve worked to refine this tool to see how it could help protect vulnerable people during heatwaves, support the development of green infrastructure strategies, make homes less likely to overheat, and aid the longer-term growth and regeneration of the city.

The image shows the Keep Bristol Cool Mapping Tool, the image on the left shows the wards of Bristol with different shades of red used as the key for the different figures. On the right the text reads Heat Vulnerability Index, A combination of Age, Deprivation, Indoor and Outdoor heat vulnerability factors. Dark red very high risk for Bristol 211-263, less dark red High risk for Bristol 158-210, lesser red, low risk for Bristol 53-105, very low risk for Bristol 1-52.
The new Keep Bristol Cool mapping tool

Innovating resilience

The mapping tool is a key step in Bristol’s resilience journey. A framework will follow that builds on the commitments set out in the One City Climate Strategy to become a climate resilient city by 2030: Setting out a programme of work that builds our resilience to higher temperatures and heatwaves across key areas including city planning, emergency planning, housing and the natural environment.

Working together

To reach our climate goals by 2030 and to safeguard the city against extreme heat, our city needs to work together. The Keep Bristol Cool mapping tool will offer service-providers, businesses and organisations across the city the opportunity to use this tool to help with their future planning.

We want to share this work and approach with other cities in the UK, we will work with closely with colleagues at the Local Government Association City and Regions board, improving the resilience of the UK to deal with extreme weather events and long-term trends in our city planning.

Bristol Climate Action

This year’s record-breaking temperatures have made many of us feel more anxious about the climate and ecological emergencies that we face. There are examples of Bristol residents who are making changes to their lives On Bristol Climate Hub, take a look and learn about their inspiring stories.

You can also donate to the Tree Crowd Funder – to help us double Bristol’s tree canopy – which will provide valuable shade in years to come.

Behind the Headline

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fuad Mohammed, CEO of Ashley Community Housing:

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

Sandra Meadows MBE:

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

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

Marti Burgess, Chair of Black South West Network

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

If You Can See It, You Can Be It

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

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

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

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

#HerGameToo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is Football Really Coming Home?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Supporting a more inclusive social care workforce 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bristol-based charity, Motivation, on the global stage

Motivation’s Amanda Wilkinson

Tonight is the opening ceremony of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Motivation is a Bedminster-based charity and social enterprise which could play an important role in this global event.

Around 4,500 athletes from 72 countries are expected to participate. Between today and the 8th August, there will be 283 gold medals won across 22 sports, inclusive of our special interest—parasport. There will be 39 para-events competing in athletics, cycling, weightlifting, swimming, table tennis, triathlon, lawn bowls and 3×3 wheelchair basketball events.

Motivation will be eagerly watching to see if any of the para-athletes are using our Multisport or Flying Start racing wheelchairs—designed right here, in the heart of Bristol.

But it’s not a level playing field…

We believe disabled sports can promote inclusion and tackle the stigma around disability head on. Sport can improve people’s confidence and the way they are perceived by others. Since the 2012 London Paralympics, the success of disability sport has helped bring funding and much needed investment developing access for disabled people to participate in sport.

Motivation help develop grass roots sports by providing the everyday wheelchairs that para-athletes from the world’s low- and middle-income countries will be using to reach the games.

But we know that para-athletes need more support to be able to compete to their full potential. And athletes where we work often cannot afford to. We would love to see a level playing field for all the countries of the Commonwealth.

We know that participation of disabled people in sport positively effects everyone, we would like to see the countries who struggle to fund their athletes be able to field full strength teams in the future.

We have been working in Uganda to promote grass roots sports and greater inclusion via our All Stars Project, providing sports wheelchairs and inclusion training for primary school teachers and coaches.  

All Stars Project in Uganda, Providing young disabled people with sports wheel chairs

The outcomes are clear. Disabled boys and girls are coming to and staying in school, which matters in countries like Uganda where 90% of disabled children are not able to attend school. Attendance was up by 15% in the first year with over 350 disabled children taking their place in primary school.

But the benefits extend beyond this, through the project’s ‘buddy’ system, disabled children and non-disabled children are forging friendships that extend beyond school, as they play and explore together in their communities.

Sport has such an important role to play to bring us hope, fun and belonging – from the successes of the Lionesses at the Euro’s this week that make us proud and excited for an unprecedented win in in the final, to the launch of the Games today.

We are excited by seeing countries coming together in peace as a global community. This is something to celebrate especially after the last couple of years. While we’re always excited to see our chairs in action at elite level, we know that those para-athletes deserve better.

About Motivation

For more than 30 years, Motivation have worked to secure the rights of disabled children and adults by designing and providing wheelchairs, training, and services in countries like India, Kenya, Malawi and Uganda.

But these are tough financial times for us all. Covid-19 and the loss of a significant grant from the UK Government during international aid cuts mean Motivation are facing serious financial challenges.

To tackle this, we launched the Keep Us Moving Urgent Appeal. We are delighted to have reached more than three-quarters to our fundraising target of £300,000, having raised £267,330 so far.

We’re so lucky to be backed by people and organisations across Bristol, and beyond, who want to make the world a fair and inclusive place for everyone, everywhere. Thank you!

Every donation, tweet, share, or like helps to secure the future of disabled children and adults around the world. If you’d like to make a donation, or know more about any of our work, please do get in touch with us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Imperial Sports Ground’s Super Sense Room

Today’s blog is by Lee West,
Trustee at Imperial Sports Ground

As for many organisations it’s been a challenging time, for the sports centre especially so. The fire in 2018 brought everything to a sudden halt.  But through these times we are beginning to see fruit of the redevelopment and our most recent being our SuperSense sensory room.

On 24 June we officially opened our state-of-the-art sensory room and it’s a true example of how more powerful it is for charities and people to come together, with a common goal, for the right reasons to develop a unique but much needed facility in Bristol.

The sensory room is the largest in Bristol and is based in the heart of the community, within transport links to ensure impact is maximised.

As a charity we have the ethos that “Any child with SEND has the right and ability to develop into adulthood, capable of taking an integral part in a wider society. The Imperial Sports Ground as a Bristol based registered charity has the responsibility to give them every opportunity to succeed.”

We strive to look at wider opportunities to impact people’s lives and provide a safe place to grow; we understand there are many deprived families in Bristol that would benefit from this facility and we’re keen to ensure this is a facility for all; unfortunately, it’s been difficult to find these families but we’re confident in the next few months this will be achieved.

I’m personally working on another project, developing a SEND outdoor play park for Adults and Children, this is another example of how thousands of people can benefit from a life changing facility. We’re on a mission again to raise funds.  As a society we all want to be inclusive but whilst this is the common end goal, we also must acknowledge our unconscious bias. Making these steps, through generations we will be going in the right direction.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Venturer’s Academy, SEN SOS, Incredible Kids, Autistic associations, Quartet and individual donors for their support.

Spreading light for International Day of the Midwife

'100' is superimposed onto a light blue background to celebrate that many 'years of progress' thanks to the 'International Confederation of Midwives'. The '1' includes an image of a pregant woman, the first '0' of midwifes, and the second '0' the world.
Today’s blog is by Naomi Havergal, Digital Content Editor at the Royal College of Midwives (@MidwivesRCM)

International Day of the Midwife (IDM) is celebrated every year on 5 May to recognise the dedication and commitment midwives have to their local communities, and Bristol midwives are no exception.

Over the last few years midwives have faced unprecedented challenges to deliver high quality and safe maternity care to women, babies, and families. This year’s IDM will be the first time since 2019 that our midwives can come together and celebrate and receive the recognition they deserve.

IDM was created by the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) to bring together midwives’ associations from around the world. This year we celebrate ‘100 Years of Progress’ to coincide with centenary of the ICM. What a long way we have come since midwifery became a recognised profession in Britain under the Midwives Act in 1902.

IDM provides an opportunity for midwives to be in their own spotlight. That is when the idea came to the Royal College of Midwives to light up Bristol City Hall in the colours of the only trade union dedicated to supporting midwives. We are here for you.

Many midwives in Bristol will be on shift during IDM, which is why we contacted the Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees to see if he could help us celebrate. We were absolutely delighted by his enthusiasm to ensure this happened. When midwives are walking home after their shift, or student midwives walking home from their placements, City Hall will be illuminated in honour of them.

Midwives aren’t just simply there for the birth. They are present throughout pregnancy, labour, birth and the postnatal period. Across Bristol we have specialist midwives and research midwives, and even midwives who have become lecturers to teach the next generation. All of these people provide some of the best maternity care in the world.

On Thursday 5 May 2022, Bristol City Hall will be lit up at sunset in support of IDM. If you’re in the area, please share your pictures using the hashtag #IDM2022. We would love to see them!

Thank you to our midwives at Bristol Royal Infirmary, Southmead Hospital, and our student midwives at the University of West of England for their dedication to midwifery.

Building an Age-Friendly City

Learning from the Bristol Ageing Better programme

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

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

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

Changing the conversation on loneliness

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

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

Towards an Age-Friendly Bristol

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

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

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