Category Archives: Homes and Communities

Update on Twinnell House

The fire at Twinnell House in the early hours of Sunday morning is a tragedy that has shocked and saddened myself and the wider community.

My thoughts are with the friends and family of the man who sadly passed away during the incident. My thoughts too are with other residents, who sustained injuries or had been effected by the evacuation of the building. Housing officers are continuing to support residents to ensure their physical and mental health needs are met.

As full details of the incident continue to emerge, we believe the safety procedures worked effectively, informing emergency services and allowing for an immediate and effective response.

There are stories of compassion, kindness, courage and support from those responders and the community. These stories are a positive aspect of an otherwise upsetting event.

I extend my thanks to everyone who attended to support residents, on behalf of the city. There are some I can thanks specifically .

Personnel from the emergency services including Avon & Somerset Police, Avon Fire & Rescue and South West Ambulance Service responded immediately and helped evacuate residents and ensure the fire was extinguished quickly.

St Nicholas of Tolentine Church and Margaret Ulloa opened up their doors to residents to provide important information and emergency accommodation.

Rachel James, the headteacher of St Nicholas School, opened up their facilities for parking and as a space for residents to eat. Daniel Doyle of Newman Catholic Trust helped take residents to a local hotel, who were extremely welcoming and understanding in light of the issue.

Councillor Yasin Mohammed arrived in the early hours of the morning and provided support to the emergency services and residents in the immediate aftermath.

Also, Bristol City Council staff from a range of teams provided residents with information, collected food for them and set up temporary accommodation. Their actions In the immediate aftermath have helped all residents into their homes or alternative accommodation, and they will continue to work together to make sure all residents can return to safe homes.

I want to express my gratitude to these people and organisations as well as everyone else involved in the effort. The response from the community was remarkable, as we move forward we are continuing to ensure residents feel supported and cared for and provide updates as soon as we are able.

Great Big Green Week – Blaise Plant Nursery

Councillor Ellie King standing on the City hall ramp smiling.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Ellie King,
Cabinet Member for Public Health and Communities and a Labour Councillor for Hillfields ward.

Today is the start of Great Big Green Week (24 September – 2 October) and so I’d like to take the opportunity to celebrate Bristol Council’s Blaise Plant Nursery’s commitment to protect nature, support climate action, and tackle food poverty through its successful Community Plant Donation project. I’m also pleased to share some videos that show how this scheme supports community action tackling food poverty and climate change.

The plant nursery at Blaise Estate has been operating for more than 30 years. The team at the nursery work hard to reduce its impact on the environment and lower its carbon emissions as much as possible. The nursery produces all of its own electricity using solar panels, its staff use zero-emission ex-milk floats to move around the site, and they water young plants by hand from a borehole on the estate to reduce consumption. All the plants are grown in peat-free compost, biodegradable mulch mats are used wherever possible, and the plant pots and trays are recycled. Waste timber is recycled into biomass fuel and the nursery is wildlife friendly with bird feeding tables and bee hives dotted around the site.

Part of the great work the team do is the Community Plant Donation project. This spring, 10,000 vegetable and soft fruit seedlings were delivered to 50 food growing community groups in Bristol so they could help supply food banks, community cafes and schools to support people in need. As well as providing fresh, locally grown, healthy food to families and foodbanks, the plant donation project has also had a wider positive impact on communities. You can find out more about all the good work in the following short videos:

·         A group of young adults with special education needs and disabilities have been learning how to nurture a garden at Victoria Park Veg Patch.

·         People struggling with their mental health have benefited from being surrounded by nature and the feeling of wellbeing it brings through the social prescribing scheme at The Ardagh.

·         Residents in BS13 have been learning how to grow their own food, how to eat more healthily and how this can help the environment at Heart of BS13.

·         At Companion Planting in Speedwell people come together to teach their children about food and sharing food from their culture.

·         The Redcatch community garden in Knowle uses the produce they grow at their café and sell it in their shop to raise money to put back into their neighbourhood.

·         All the plants at the Blaise Plant Nursery are grown in environmentally friendly peat-free compost and are free of pesticides which is important to Edible Bristol.

Image shows a variety of plans in pots, including tomato, squash and pumpkin. A sign at the front of the image reads Friday Hillfields Community Garden.

The Community Plant Donation project started in April 2020 when the council’s plant nursery in Lawrence Weston had to close its shop because of the COVID-19 lockdown. The shop was fully stocked with fruit and vegetable seedlings at the time and so that they wouldn’t go to waste staff from the nursery and parks department delivered the plants to community growing groups who were delivering food to people who were shielding or growing food for food banks. The plant donations project had such a positive impact on communities that it received funding from the council’s Climate and Ecological Emergency Programme in 2021 and this year to continue to scale it up.

We are now facing a different kind of crisis. The rising costs of fuel, food and other essentials means there are households at even greater risk of hardship and wellbeing and so the continued success of the plant donation project is even more important.

Bristol was awarded Gold Sustainable Food City status in May 2021 by the UK’s independent, Sustainable Food Places Board. The plant donation project supports Bristol’s commitment to maintaining this status by increasing the amount of nature friendly, low carbon food growing in the city and supporting food equality by improving access to nutritious, affordable and sustainably sourced food.

Volunteer with Can Do Bristol

Ellie King smiling on the City Hall Ramp
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Ellie King,
Cabinet Member for Public Health and Communities, and a Labour Councillor for Hillfields ward.

We are facing a challenging autumn and winter. The rising cost of living is affecting a huge number of people in our city, as the prices of energy, food and other essentials continue to increase. We are launching this callout to ask for volunteers to come forward to be part of Bristol’s shared response to this crisis. 

Bristol’s volunteer response during the pandemic was inspiring and demonstrated the can-do attitude of our residents. Bristolians came together to help their communities. We learned that volunteering is crucial when it comes to building the strong, community-led support that’s needed at a local and city-wide level. We would love to see the same happen again now as we face a different, but equally important challenge.

The council is taking a One City and community-led approach to the cost of living crisis. The aim is to support residents and community organisations across Bristol to take action in their neighbourhoods to make a difference where it matters most. This will continue to bring our communities together, build relationships and strengthen our neighbourhoods. 

Communities rely on volunteers and the goodwill of people to get us through situations like these. You can get involved by volunteering with a local organisation to help them respond to the needs of the community.

Everyone has something to offer, whether it’s your time, your talents, or your enthusiasm to do something positive. There are a huge range of volunteering opportunities available on the Can Do Bristol website, including providing essential advice to residents, cooking and serving food, general admin support or even helping at one of our welcoming spaces. You can find a full list of opportunities on Can Do Bristol’s website.  

Volunteering is an incredibly rewarding experience and is great for our health and wellbeing. Not only are you meeting new people, learning new skills, and gaining different experiences you are contributing to community life and building a better city for us all to live in.

Remember, you don’t have to be a registered volunteer to help in your community. Small actions like checking on neighbours can make a big difference. Consider offering them a lift to the shop, cooking them a meal, asking them if they need anything from the shop, offering a lift, or seeing if they would like some company. If you can, you could also donate to local charities or a foodbank, who are always looking for kind donations to continue supporting others.

If you are part of a community organisation in the city and need volunteers to help you reach your local residents and neighbourhood, you can post a volunteering opportunity on the Can Do Bristol website for volunteers to sign up to. 

If you need advice or guidance for yourself or someone you support, we have also launched a cost of living support hub online, providing guidance on topics such as housing, bills, benefits, employment and skills and mental health and wellbeing. Please share this webpage with others and encourage anyone who needs support to reach out.  

Together, We Are Bristol.

£4.8m funding allocated for Family Hubs and the Start for Life programme

Councillor Asher Craig
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor for Children’s Services, Education and Equalities and Labour Councillor for St George West

The early years of a child’s life are so important as this is the time when the foundations for their development are set. We also know that it is vital that they have the support they need throughout childhood and onwards through their teenage and transition years into young adulthood.

That’s why I’m thrilled that Bristol is one of 75 local authorities that has been selected by the Government for a portion of over £300 million of funding, to support the Family Hubs and Start for Life programme in the local area. This is on top of a Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) grant of £97,000 over two years, which supports services to help parents develop effective relationships and reduce conflict in the home.

The £4.8 million of funding for our Family Hub Start for Life programme will help to support the vision for children and young people set out in Bristol’s Belonging Strategy. The strategy’s aim is that everyone in Bristol will have the best start in life and to get the support, help and skills they need as they grow up to prosper in adulthood.

The funding for Bristol over the next three years will help to develop Family Hubs to make it easier for families to access information, support, and services when they need it. This is especially important in areas with the highest levels of deprivation and disproportionately poor health and educational outcomes, as we know from our efforts to protect Bristol’s children’s centres and avoid the mass closures seen elsewhere since 2010.

Through the Family Hubs and Start for Life programme, parents and carers will receive more dedicated support to better help them nurture and care for their babies and children, ensuring they have the very best start to life. Family Hubs are a great way to join up the planning and delivery of services in a local community or area and will bring together a range of services to improve the connections between providers, professionals and families. The aim is that they are a front door to universal support and early help.

A child draws inside a carboard box at Bristol City Council's play day event in Eastville park.
Bristol City Council’s play day event in Eastville park

While the Start for Life programme will focus many funded services on babies and young children and help us in furthering our ambitions to be a Child Friendly City, it will link into the wider Family Hubs programme offering services for families with older children and young people up to the age of 25.

The programme is still in the early stages of development but it’s important to know that these Hubs aren’t about creating new buildings; it’s about connecting the dots, so families have a “one-stop shop” to universal and early help ranging from infant feeding support to mental health support, parenting and family support and help in accessing specialist help, at their fingertips.

This could look like a mixture of physical and virtual spaces, as well as outreach where families can easily access professional support for the challenges they’re facing. We will also strive to build on the existing services on offer, such as midwifery, family support workers and voluntary and community sectors. We also wish to build on delivering services from some of our children’s centres with the aim of developing this approach more widely across the city as well as considering how we can develop young people-friendly hubs.

We’re really pleased to be developing the Family Hubs model, working together with a wide network of partners and organisations already doing incredible work for our children, young people and families in the city. Together we are stronger, and we can make sure that people can access the right support whenever they need it.

200 years of St. George’s Bristol

Samir Savant smiling with his arms crossed. Wearing a blue three piece suit and glasses
Today’s blog is from Samir Savant, CEO
of St George’s [photo: Frances Marshall]

I have been CEO of St George’s Bristol since last September and have loved it so far. Everyone here is so collaborative, I want to thank Bristol for making me feel so welcome!

St George’s started life as a church in 1823, and we celebrate our 200th anniversary next year. In the 1990s we became an independent charity and vibrant venue for music and spoken word. Our famous acoustics attract artists of all genres from across the globe, and this August we hosted the first ever BBC Prom to be held in Bristol.

Only 40% of our income comes from ticket sales, so we are reliant on venue hire, hospitality and our donors for the rest. In a typical year we present 300 events reaching audiences of more than 100,000, and hundreds more through our work in local communities. 

I wanted to write more about these lesser-known projects with specific charities and community groups, as we are rightly proud of this side of our work. Through our Learning and Participation programme, we engage with hundreds of young people and families through our Mini-Beats and Wild Words events, and our partnerships with Bristol Beacon and Preludes.

Through the support of the Cavatina Trust, we give out dozens of free tickets for specific concerts to young people aged 8 – 25. We also work with young people of Somali heritage in Easton, supporting them to connect with their culture through music and drama in weekly workshops led by a Somali youth leader. 

The image shows the outside of the St. George's building, four main columns on the outside. The front of the image shows the stairs leading up to it.
St George’s Bristol [photo: Jake Janes]

A focus for us is Cosmos, our children’s singing project with young people we would not otherwise reach in Knowle West. This is a voluntary after-school choir which is non-auditioned and has been running for over 12 years. The commitment and talent of the children is incredible, and we are pleased to facilitate performance opportunities for them. Last Christmas they sang at Bristol Zoo, in previous years they have sung on the SS Great Britain, and we arrange travel so that their parents/carers can come along too.

 As someone who grew up singing, I know how important being in a choir can be, and the sense of belonging to a friendship group with a common aim at a formative age.

Our work also extends beyond music and beyond the city of Bristol. We are proud to work with a range of charity partners doing vital work across the city, including Women’s Work Lab, Prodigal Arts, Bristol Pride and Stepping Up Bristol. We offer free and discounted spaces for their events, training, and meetings as well as work placements and career guidance. 

The image shows the inside of St George's Bristol. the old church has a white roof and walls. the photo is taken looking down upon rows of chairs that are facing a stage.
The inside of St. George’s [photo: Jake Janes]

We do all of this because we genuinely believe that music matters and that listening to or taking part in music genuinely changes us for the better. The Cosmos choir is a great example of how singing can give young people skills and confidence, and there are nationwide examples of how regular, active music-making can transform educational outcomes.

Music is also vital for our health and well-being. Research conducted globally over decades has shown that listening to music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and pain as well as improve sleep quality, mood, and memory. We are working with the NHS and charities working with older people to bring live or streamed music into hospitals and care settings to help promote good mental and physical health.

For our 200th anniversary next year we will throw open the doors of St George’s to everyone and present a varied series of concerts and events, many of which will be free, welcoming all communities to our beautiful space. If you have never been to St George’s before, please visit us soon, even if it is just to spend time in our gardens, a haven of peace away from the bustle of Park Street, or to enjoy a coffee in our lovely new extension, you will be very welcome.

£15 million plan for Education investment in Bristol

We all want children to have the best opportunities in life, no matter their background. That’s why we’re supporting the opening of new schools and expanding existing ones to make sure we meet the growing demand for school places in Bristol. 

In 2020, we made a commitment to increase spending for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) to enable us to expand classroom spaces and improve SEND facilities. Through careful planning, plans to invest another almost £15 million from the Department for Education into SEND schools to create an additional 204 specialist places in Bristol by 2024.

The SEND projects funded through phase two of the council’s Education Capital Programme would lead to major improvements to current special schools and many mainstream schools to meet the needs of more Bristol children, through refurbishment and new builds, including a new Independent Living Centre at the City of Bristol College (Phase 3 of ‘Project Rainbow’).

The photo shows the aerial view of plans for the new school on Daventry road. The photo as houses circling around multiple sports fields at the bottom of the image and 5 main buildings that take up the north part of the site.
Plans for Oasis Academy Daventry Road

We are already making significant investments in our SEND provision with the first phase of our ambitious Education Capital Programme, which is on track to create 142 places by February next year. A new £8.5 million state-of-the-art school, Elmfield School for Deaf Children, is already underway and due for completion around Easter 2023. The new and refurbished school buildings, specifically designed for the sensory needs of deaf children, will be co-located with the adjacent Upper Horfield Community School.

I’m also thrilled that, working in partnership with the Department for Education, two new secondary schools are expected to open in Bristol next year, ready for the new school year in September 2023.

Feasibility works are currently underway to open the new Oasis Academy Daventry Road in temporary accommodation on the existing site of Oasis Academy John Williams in Hengrove from September 2023. The school’s permanent purpose-built school on Daventry Road in Knowle is expected to be completed in September 2024, and work is currently in progress to prepare the site for construction.

The temporary location of the new Oasis Academy Temple Quarter secondary school has also recently been announced. The new school will be based temporarily on Spring Street in Bedminster while the permanent, purpose-built school is constructed on Silverthorne Lane. Feasibility works including surveys are currently underway at the Spring Street site ahead of an expected opening in September 2023. 

The photo shows plans for Oasis Academy Temple Quarter school building. There is a road running from bottom right across the bottom of the image, with the main building sitting in the centre. On the right there is a brick archway leading to a car park.
Plans for Oasis Academy Temple Quarter

The council owns the site on Spring Street and is already leasing a small separate section of it to Help Bristol’s Homeless, a charity who support homeless people in our city. Once the school has opened in Temple Quarter, Goram Homes will progress its plans to build much needed affordable homes on the Spring Street site. A regeneration framework for the area around Whitehouse Street is currently being prepared and this will be used to help shape future planning applications for the site, alongside further consultation and engagement with the community.

The permanent site of Oasis Academy Temple Quarter on Silverthorne Lane was granted planning permission in April 2022. The school’s permanent building is expected to be completed in September 2025, and work is currently underway preparing the site for construction.

If you have a child that was born between 1 September 2011 and 31 August 2012, you will be able to apply for a secondary school place at Oasis Academy Daventry Road and Oasis Academy Temple Quarter from 12 September 2022.

Oasis Community Learning will be hosting events for families to find out more about the new schools and how they can apply for a place throughout September and October 2022. Applications in the first year will be managed directly by Oasis Community Learning.

The image shows a sketch of the Oasis Academy Temple Quarter building, it has trees and buildings surrounding it on either side.
Sketch of Oasis Academy Temple Quarter

To find out more:

  • Oasis Academy Daventry Road
  • Oasis Academy Temple Quarter

A weekend of StoryTrails in Bristol

In the foreground of the photo is Councillor Ellie King smiling, with the walls and walkway to Bristol City Hall behind her.
Today’s blog is from Cllr Ellie King, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Communities and Labour Councillor for Hillfields

StoryTrails came to Bristol this month, giving Bristolians the chance to explore untold histories of the city in a unique way. The event brought history to life in our streets and at Central Library through a range of creative augmented and virtual reality (VR) experiences. 

It was a great weekend and lovely to see the Central Library so busy, triple the number of visitors joined us compared to a typical weekend, with loads of new faces joining the library and taking out books for the first time. 

StoryTrails taught participants about unique historical stories through a variety of different experiences, these included: 

  • Using VR headsets in the Holden Foyer showing a choice of films to experience, immersing people in history from punk to South Asian cuisine  
  • Viewing the film created by Bristol producer and StoryMapper Marcus Smith, made from thousands of 3D scans and film interviews, uncovering local and community histories in Bristol on 5 metre curved 360o screen in the library café 
  • Creating avatars (a 3D version of yourself) using the free Scaniverse app and LiDar technology on iPads to create augmented reality photos, which were printed out for people to take home on a postcard. 
  • Setting off on guided augmented reality walking tours around Bristol, led by actors and the Bristol TrailMaker Lucy Fulford to explore the history of the SweetMart in Easton and stories from the South Asian Ugandan community in Bristol. 
The image shows a group of participants watching one of the many films telling the story's of Bristol and Britain. The crowd are at the bottom of the image with a big curving projector in front of them.

The walking tour is still available to download for free on the StoryTrails app and includes six stops around the centre of Bristol. Scan locations in the city with the camera on your phone or device and watch video clips and audio extracts projected onto your screen. The whole tour takes about an hour 30 minutes to complete. 

I want to thank the Central Library team for making it happen and the extra members of library staff drafted in that helped with the smooth running of the event on the day. A special thanks goes to our StoryTrails library staff ambassadors – who were all brilliant and are now expert 3D scanners!  

As part of the legacy of the project, StoryTrails are gifting the library VR headsets and Google handsets to run their own AR walking tours, extra iPads and mini printers for photo postcard printing, so they will be hosting more events and running more 3D scanning sessions in branch libraries across Bristol.  

Hannover, Bordeaux and Bristol

Deputy Mayor Asher Craig takes up the centre of the image smiling. She is wearing a green and yellow headdress, with a green and blue stripped Blazer and white t-shirt. She has a multicoloured necklace around her neck and matching earrings. In the background you can see a building that's blurred. There is a bush below the building.
Today’s blog is from deputy mayor Asher Craig

The Haitian Uprising of 1791, in Saint Domingue, played a crucial role in the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade. In memory, 23 August marks the UN’s International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition, providing a focus for collective remembrance and consideration of the legacy of the atrocity and how it impacts today’s world.

This past year city representatives including myself and Mayor Marvin Rees have been working hard to support the dialogue and learning from Bristol’s role in the trans-atlantic slave trade, including through the Bristol History Commission, the Legacy Steering Group, and publishing  Project Truth to help inform how the city responds and moves forward.

Alongside this and to help inform both our own learning and that of two of our twin cities,  Bordeaux and Hannover, with whom we mark our 75th twinning anniversary this year, I have been privileged to visit both and pay respect to the victims of slavery and remember our cities’ roles in the trans-atlantic slave trade.

In May, a small delegation from Bristol, including myself, Professor Olivette Otele, a historian of slavery and memory of enslavement; Sado Jirde, Director of Black South West Network; Dr Mena Fombo, a Bristol International Ambassador, entrepreneur, film director and global speaker on diversity and inclusion; and Dr Emmanuel Adukwu, Deputy Head of the Department of Applied Sciences at the University of the West of England, were invited to take part in Bordeaux Slavery Memory Week.

The image shows the group standing together in a line smiling in front of a statue in the Bordeaux government buildings. From left to right is the film director and global speaker on diversity and inclusion, the Bristol International Ambassador, Deputy Mayor Asher Craig, Sado Jirde, Dr Mena Fombo. A statue sits in the centre of the phot just above the group, in a little gap in the wall. On the left of the image you can see the grand building with huge windows.
Deputy Mayor Asher Craig is pictured with other members of the Bristol delegation in Bordeaux

As a fellow port city, also actively involved in the slave trade, they have embedded learning about the city’s slave history in a way Bristol can actively learn from. All Bordeaux school children join a targeted education programme outlining history of enslavement, as well as a memorial garden, trail, and permanent museum exhibition.

Last week I was invited to Hannover to take part in a wide programme of events to mark our 75th twinning anniversary, including a signing of a shared Memorandum of Agreement for future collaboration and panel discussions including one as part of the recent opening of the jointly Hannover/Bristol curated ‘About Golden Carriages and colonial past – Hannover, England and Slavery’ at their Historical Museum.

The image shows Deputy Mayor Asher Craig on the right, wearing a blue headdress and top. She is discussing with a man, wearing a blue suit that takes up the left of the image. In between them is a painting, displaying a gold chariot.
Deputy Mayor, Asher Craig in Hannover

It was an opportunity to share more about the work of the History Commission and Legacy Steering group as they also explore their own role in the colonial past and how we can jointly work together on this and other shared priorities to achieve a better and more informed future for all our citizens.

I was also honoured to be able to see the culmination of Bristol’s Youth RISE Dance group’s collaboration project with FZH Linden Hannover with a performance representing human rights at the ceremony marking our 75th twinning anniversary at Hannover City Hall which was  powerful and moving.

We would like to give our thanks to both Hannover and Bordeaux City Councils, City Partners, our Twinning Associations, the French Foreign Ministry for facilitating these special visits, and all those who we met and engaged with as part of the programme. It was a chance to share experiences, find solutions to common problems and support each other in achieving our goals.

Events to commemorate the 75th twinning anniversary with Bordeaux, as well as Hannover, are taking place throughout the year. More information about the events can be found on the Visit West website.

Our exhibition: Our Stories, Our Journey

A photo of Jasmine Coe, in front of a white head band. She is standing with her arms crossed with a smile on her face. She is wearing a reflective brown top with necklace and other jewellery. She is also wearing a orange patterned headband.
Today’s blog is by Jasmine Coe, Founder
and Curator at Coe Gallery

‘Our Stories, Our Journey’ was our first exhibition as Coe Gallery, the UK’s first Aboriginal owned gallery. The artists’ works explored themes of connection to land, culture and identity and I feel the impact of the exhibition has been quietly profound. The conversations that I have engaged in or overheard in the gallery have allowed space for thought, planting a seed of contemplation.

Reflecting on the feedback, I’ve felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude, cultural pride and appreciation, for both artists and visitors. It was a joy to be able to curate the exhibition and hang the works of emerging Aboriginal artists, some of whose work has never been seen before in the UK and receptively, given some of our 500 visitors had never-before seen Aboriginal art.

A consistent theme within the artworks was the artist’s messages of love for land, nature and the need for connection which sang through the gallery at such a vibration it moved some visitors to tears.

The image shows four of the paintings on display at the Vestibules. A brown brick wall is covered in 4 pieces of art, on the left is the largest piece that takes up the height of the wall in shot on it's own. Then on the right 3 images sit one under the other. The first image on the left is split in two, with one side being black with white lines and the other a light brown creating an effect like sand dunes. The top image on the right has black trimmings with white dots and grey smudges. The middle painting is black dots among a white background with black trimmings. The final image is a pattern of black lines on a white background creating a visual effect with black trimmings on the outside.
Some of the artwork on display at The Vestibules

“I am so touched by being part of (an) enriching and thought provoking art… Coe Gallery has brought to us an element of reflection that we are all connected… Interbeing and reflective about who we all are and where we all come from. All education has a power and so does this exhibition. We can see unseen, we can touch untouched, we hear what is not heard. Symbolic and really grounding.”

One of the aims of the exhibition was to encourage connection – to land or self. Bristol has been the perfect place in the UK to facilitate these conversations of cultural exchange and change. As a result of the 2020 BLM movement in Bristol, I have found it has encouraged people to start listening to each other and hearing other sides of history that have been lesser told. Because of this, I believe there is space in Bristol for the Indigenous experiences of Australia’s Traditional Owners to be heard.

Despite the colonial narrative that continues to override  our Indigenous experiences, Bristol embraced our stories. Thank you to those that came for having an open mind and heart. What I have learnt from this exhibition is that we all individually long for connection and a sense of belonging. I believe that to belong, we have a responsibility to care for the place that we all equally belong to, our global home – our earth. Aboriginal culture has survived and thrived in harmony with the land for over 60,000 years. The knowledge and lessons in sustainability is essential in bringing back balance to our planet as we face the devastating impacts of a changing climate.

Thank you to  the Mayor and the Vestibules for flying the Aboriginal flag outside City Hall, acknowledging Aboriginal Australians and amplifying our messages that we as people are still here and, have always been here. Thank you, too, to Bristol University and Bridging Histories for supporting our first exhibition. Going forward, Coe Gallery will continue putting on pop up exhibitions and working towards offering artist residencies, inviting Aboriginal artists to come to Bristol and participate in meaningful cultural exchange.

Cost of living crisis: reducing rising household bills 

Councillor Kye Dudd smiles at the front of the picture, with trees and grass blurred in the background.
Today’s blog is by Cllr Kye Dudd, Cabinet
Member for Climate, Ecology, Waste and Energy
and Labour Councillor for Southmead

The cost of living crisis is affecting us all. As we look to the colder months, I know many people are deeply concerned about the cost of heating their homes and rising energy bills.

Projections that energy bills could continue to rocket into early 2023 have sent shockwaves throughout our city, where around 30,000 households live in fuel poverty. We support calls for immediate national action to freeze bills to save families on average £1,000, by taxing record oil and gas profits.

In the medium and longer term, Bristol City Council is glad to have secured even more funding through the government’s Home Upgrade Grant, to help even more eligible households in Bristol, Bath, North East and North Somerset to install energy saving measures in their homes, through the Bright Green Homes project. Eligible residents who do not use gas central heating are now invited to apply for grant funding, to help reduce their household energy bills and help make their homes more energy efficient.

Eligible households may be entitled to receive up to £25,000 of funding for a huge range of energy saving and low carbon technologies, which will be incredibly important as we look ahead to the colder winter months. This includes external and cavity wall insulation, double glazing, energy efficient doors, as well as air source heat pump installation and solar panel systems. 

Over 200 households have already benefitted from the first phase of the Bright Green Homes scheme, with more families set to have help to keep their energy costs low and reduce carbon emissions.

To be eligible for this £2.7 million round of funding, you must:

  • not use gas central heating. The scheme is only open to households who use oil, coal, LPG, or electric heating systems;
  • have a combined gross annual household income under £30,000 per year;
  • have a valid Energy Performance Certificate with a rating of D, E, F, or G;
  • live in Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset or North Somerset Council areas;
  • be the owner, landlord or private rented tenant of the property.

The scheme has funding for a limited number of homes across Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset and North Somerset. If your household meets the eligibility criteria, please complete the online questionnaire.

A photo of the inside of a attic ceiling, at the front of the image you can see the rafting lining the ceiling, with home insulation installed to keep in heat.
Installed Home Insulation

The Bright Green Homes scheme will not only help to reduce energy costs for individual households, helping more households become more energy efficient is also an essential part of Bristol’s commitment to be carbon neutral by 2030.

If you have any questions about the project, please contact the Energy Service Bristol team on 0117 352 1180 or email domestic@energyservicebristol.co.uk.

More information about the Bright Green Homes project can be found on the Bristol Energy Service website.

For those who are not eligible for the scheme, you can find energy saving tips on the Energy Service Bristol website.