Category Archives: Homes and Communities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remembering Roy Hackett MBE 1928 – 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deputy Mayor Asher Craig

Behind the Headline

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fuad Mohammed, CEO of Ashley Community Housing:

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

Sandra Meadows MBE:

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

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

Marti Burgess, Chair of Black South West Network

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

Summer Activities with Branches Out Forest School

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mead Street development brief endorsed by Cabinet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bristol Temple Quatre tweet about Cabinet’s endorsement

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

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

Love Parks Week

Cllr Ellie King smiles in front of City Hall,  text below reads 'This weeks blog is by Cllr Ellie King, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Communities'
This weeks blog is by Cllr Ellie King, Cabinet member for Public Health and Communities

Love Parks Week is a chance to again celebrate Bristol’s fantastically diverse range of parks and green spaces. All of which are so important to our health and wellbeing, and which in recent times have drawn in even more visitors than ever before.

Parks are a glorious mix of the public and the private: public when we walk the dog, catch up with friends, and encourage our children to play and explore; and private when used for picnics, exercise, relaxation, or even quiet contemplation. Our parks provide us with all this and so much more, and during COVID-19 restrictions local parks were a crucially important lifeline for many too.

We’re very lucky to be home to an array of beautiful green spaces. We have formal parks, nature reserves and recreation grounds across Bristol, including large estate parklands such as Ashton Court and Stoke Park. Stoke Park is also undergoing some important work to make it accessible to all. Improvements to an existing historic path aim to be completed this summer.

A photo of Ashton Court with a field in the foreground of the photo, infront of a line of trees in the back of the photo
Ashton Court

We have wooded areas such as those at Badock’s Wood and Manor Woods Valley, district parks such as Eastville Park and Redcatch Park and vital local community green spaces such as Riverside Park or Withywood Park. Big or small, local to you, or further afield, these parks provide a welcome respite of big open-air space and greenery in an urban landscape. 


Let’s not forget how important playparks are to families also! From inner city playparks such as St Paul’s Park to larger play areas like Blaise Estate, these areas provide somewhere for children and young people to explore, make connections and engage in physical activity. Many a friendship has started in a playpark – adults and children alike.

There are therapeutic benefits to being outdoors in our parks with much research showing how being in or amongst green spaces can increase our physical health, mental wellbeing and quality of life. Trials of ‘green prescriptions’ are underway around the UK with GPs encouraging patients to take exercise in nature, with Roots to Wellbeing therapy in nature sessions available for free in Bristol.  Due to open this August at Blaise Nursery is a new Community and Therapeutic Glasshouse, where community groups will be able to book for horticulturally based therapeutic events.

A photo of Oldbury Court Estate, with a waterfall at the front of the image and Trees in the background. Text below reads Oldbury Court Estate
Oldbury Court Estate

Love Parks Week is the perfect opportunity to say a huge thank you to the many volunteers, park groups and workers who care for, maintain and protect our parks, making sure that citizens, visitors, and wildlife can all enjoy these spaces for generations to come.

Projects to enhance our green spaces such as the £400,000  St George lake improvement project make sure that parks are looked-after and preserved for people, but also that we create a safe and diverse habitat where wildlife can flourish and biodiversity is promoted. The work we’ve done at St George lake should within months start to benefit birds, bees, amphibians, and pond micro-beasts too. In the longer-term hopefully, dragonflies, damselflies, newts, and bats, will come to enjoy the new mini-wetland habitat also. Parks and green spaces form a very important part of our commitment to protecting and reversing the decline of wildlife in the UK.

An image of St Georges Park Lake, The lake is in the foreground of the image with Trees in the background surrounding the lake. Text beneath reads St George Park Lake being re-filled.
St George Park Lake being re-filled

This Love Parks week, join me in celebrating our shared love of our parks and green spaces by getting out and about and perhaps by exploring a park you have never been to before!  To find out more about the parks and green spaces in Bristol visit our Parks webpages.

Keen to do more to make space for nature in Bristol? Get inspired and find tips and support at Actions – Bristol Climate Hub 

Launching a Living Rent Commission

Todays blog by Cllr Tom Renhard, Cabinet Member for Housing Delivery and Homes and Labour Councillor for Horfield

In Bristol we face a housing crisis.

We have almost 18,000 households (and growing) on our waiting list for social housing, along with over 1,100 households in temporary accommodation. The cost of renting in this city is one key cause alongside the lack of security that renters have in the private rented sector.

Over the past decade the cost of renting in the city grew by 52%, whilst wages only increased by 24% over the same period and current levels of inflation are far outstripping any growth in income. The spiralling costs mean housing is becoming increasingly unaffordable, pushing many further away from their place of work, family, and support networks, impacting across sectors and low and middle income households

Cllr Tom Renhard, end revenge evictions

This is why we have launched a Living Rent Commission.

We are bringing the best, partnership focused organisations together to explore the issues facing renters.

The principle aims of the commission are to:

  • Improve affordability of the private rented sector
  • Understand the impact of regulation on rent prices including on housing quality and maintenance
  • Identifying the most effective rent controls
  • Consider what other powers are required
  • Consider how to empower tenants’ rights

The powers needed to ensure the rental market is accessible and works for all do not exist. The commission will make recommendations on possible rent stabilisation powers. The powers come from government and so we will work with Westminster on policy development to reform the private rented sector, enabling Bristol to become a Living Rent City.

While we will focus on delivering change for the tens of thousands of renters in Bristol, we are also making links with other urban areas and could see this work pave the way for rent reform that benefits millions across the country. This is our time to make the case for a Living Rent, and it has never been more important given the current cost of living crisis with no immediate end in sight.

We have a track record of supporting action to improve conditions for renters. Whether that be lobbying for the end to no fault evictions, that are a huge driver of homelessness in our city, or campaigning to bring in the eviction ban during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been pushing for renter reform for some time.

With cross party support, I wrote to the Secretary of State setting out the city’s support for the Renters Reform Coalition proposals for change. We will lobby to ensure these issues remain on the agenda. I will continue to fight for better protection for renters and ensure they are not driven out of Bristol.

So how can people contribute to the work of the Living Rent Commission?

We will be ensuring a wide range of people have the opportunity to be heard, including the lived experience of what it is like on the ground. I am grateful to the organisations who are prepared to work together on the Advisory Board and other organisations who will have plenty of opportunity to shape the work.

Get involved, so Bristol can have a clear voice on this – we need a Living Rent that is manageable for people and works for Bristol.   

Want to know more? Get in touch by emailing: city.office@bristol.gov.uk

Membership of Living Rent Commission Advisory Board as at 26/07/22:

  • Fair Renting Campaign
  • Generation Rent
  • ARLA
  • ALL Wessex
  • Shelter
  • Bristol Older People’s Forum
  • Ashley Community Housing
  • Black South West Network
  • UWE Student’s Union
  • UOB Student’s Union
  • We Can Make
  • Trowers and Hamlins
  • Brighter Places

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.

Help us improve the way we let our homes

Today’s blog is by Councillor Tom Renhard, Cabinet Member for Homes and Housing Delivery and Labour Councillor for Horfield.

We all know that our city is facing a housing crisis. There are rising numbers of people becoming homeless and the increasingly unaffordable cost of housing in Bristol is creating more demand for social housing and increasing pressure on HomeChoice Bristol – the system we use to let social housing in our city. And latest Census data shows that the city’s population has grown over 10% in the last decade, as pressure grows on limited city land and budgets.

There are currently nearly 18,000 households on the housing waiting list in Bristol, and more than 1,100 households in temporary accommodation. As we continue to work to get Bristol building 1,000 new affordable homes a year by 2024, we also need to review how social housing is let in our city.

Our aim is to ensure that people are housed in homes that meet their needs, giving priority to those in greatest need, and making the application process easier for everyone to follow.

The review gives us the opportunity to look at who is housed, and why, and to develop options for how to let social housing in the future. The aim is to find the best way to create and support mixed and balanced communities, without disadvantaging those people in the greatest need.

One of our greatest challenges is balancing the very high need for homes in Bristol, against a very limited pool of available properties. As we continue to add to the 9,000 new homes of all types built in Bristol since 2016, we need to make the best use of all properties in our city and have to manage the expectations of people on the register. We will keep working to turn round any empty council homes even quicker – with council properties requiring extensive major works already re-let within two and a half months, compared to two years for privately owned properties.

We want to make the housing letting process fair, easy to use and transparent for all who use it, and give people choice wherever possible in meeting their housing need.

We need to hear from people across our city, including people living in social housing or currently on the waiting list. 

It is vitally important that we get the views of people who are on the waiting list, or have recently been housed, to make sure they agree with what is being proposed following our extensive research phase.

We have already done a great deal of work to get to this point. The review process originally began in 2019 with a survey and four community events, however it was put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since we restarted the review, we have held a number of engagement events, working with tenants and those with experience of using the register, the advice and voluntary sector, and other industry experts. Their input has been vital to help shape the set of proposals we are now taking out for public consultation. We have also done extensive research into how the challenges are being addressed elsewhere across the country. 

Ideas being consulted on include:

  • Moving to a ‘managed choice’ system where the council can be more proactive in helping someone find a home.
  • Extending the use of local letting policies.
  • Changes to priority groups, including giving top priority to care leavers and under-occupiers.

The review is part of Bristol’s Big Housing Conversation, which aims to give people across our city, particularly council tenants, a greater say in how the housing system is run.

The survey will be open until Friday 7 October. To find out more and to give your views please visit www.ask.bristol.gov.uk/housing-allocations

Feedback from the consultation will be used to refine proposals which will be taken to Cabinet towards the end of the year.

Community Resilience Fund: £4 million for Bristol

Councillor Ellie King, Cabinet Member
for Public Health and Communities

Bristol’s diverse communities are underpinned by a network of dedicated people in community organisations and projects that work tirelessly to improve the lives and opportunities of others.

With the escalating cost of living, resources are being stretched like never before. Not only are these vital groups having to work harder to stretch budgets, they are often seeing increased demand from those who need support.

This is why the Community Resilience Fund is important, as it will see a one-off capital funded £4m pot shared with groups based in and working with the most deprived areas of our city, and in city-wide groups supporting certain groups for example Disabled people, Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities and LGBTQ+ communities.

Community-led decision making is central to the fund – we want people to decide which projects are most vital for them. Over the summer, Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) organisations in all the eligible areas of the city, and across different equalities communities, will lead conversations with community organisations to identify potential projects. When all potential projects have been gathered, a group of VCSE organisations, councillors and residents in each community will be recruited to review them and make a decision about what to invest in. 

The approach builds on last year’s Citizens’ Assembly which worked with a group of representative residents to make recommendations about key decisions which effect them. It also takes learning from the Port Community Resilience Fund (PCRF), which invested £1 million in communities connected to Bristol Port in 2018, with £314,000 invested specifically in community facilities. Decisions were made through a combination of council staff assessment, resident panel interviews with applicants, and a community vote.