Category Archives: Homes and Communities

Remembering two of Bristol’s best Black creatives

Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor for Communities, Equalities, and Public Health.

Councillor Asher Craig

Just a few days apart, the city has lost two of its ground-breaking artistic black creatives: Barrington Anderson, co-founder of the brilliant award-winning Ekome National Dance Company, and Reynold Duncan, founder and Director of Arts Opportunity Theatre (fondly known as AOT). I send my heartfelt condolences to their friends and family at this difficult time.

Barry Anderson

Barry Anderson

Barry was instrumental in the development of African arts in the UK, not just Bristol.  A dancer since the age of nine, he specialised in Ghanaian dance for over 20 years.  He arrived with his family from Jamaica at the age of six and settled in St Pauls.  In a society full of poverty and problems, dancing gave Barry a means of expression, a sense of his roots and a profession.  His legacy continues with members of his family, led by his sister Angela Anderson, continuing to bring Afrikan Dance to the masses.

Barry’s Thanksgiving and Celebration of Life was held this week. It was befitting that Barry’s ancestral journey should begin with a Drum Call which followed the casket from his home in St Pauls to St Mary Redcliffe Church.

Reynold Duncan

Reynold Duncan

Reynold was born in Guyana and was a musician.  In the early 1980s he established Arts Opportunity Theatre in Bristol (also known as AOT).  AOT helped hundreds of young unemployed people from all communities across Bristol under the then Manpower Services Commission’s  “Youth Opportunities Programme (YOP)”.  Many of whom went on to achieve great careers and success in the creative and performing arts.  These included drama, dance, music, stage management, lighting, photography, video-editing, costume design and making, creative and journalistic writing, graphic design, electrical and electronic engineering, office administration, booking, and computer skills.  His contribution is legendary and he laid the foundations for what has become one of Bristol’s greatest strengths as a creative and artistic city. 

I had the opportunity of working for AOT in the 1980s.  Reynold appointed me as the Chief Administrator at AOT.  I  joined the company when they were in the middle of rehearsing for their show, Black & White in Colour. This was was followed by the musical play Freedom City – which played at the Little Theatre in Bristol – and Romeo & Juliet in Dub, all of which toured throughout the UK including Edinburgh Fringe Festival where they received rave reviews. 

Plans for Reynold’s funeral are being finalised, but one thing that I know is both Barry and Reynold will receive the send off they deserve and their legacy in our city needs to be both celebrated and remembered by all.

Annual Address 2021

This is the transcript for my Annual Address speech I delivered at Full Council on Tuesday 6 July 2021.

As this is my first opportunity since being elected, I will start with some thanks:

  1. to the mayoral and councillor candidates who took on the challenge of running for office.
  2. to those of you who turned out to vote irrespective of who you voted for. Participation is essential to our democracy.
  3. and of course to those who campaigned and voted for me.

While my wife has been on TV admitting that she sometimes wishes I wasn’t the Mayor (a view a number of my Twitter trolls and probably one or two elected members hold all the time), it is nonetheless a profound honour to be re-elected on our record.

We laid out an ambitious agenda to the city in 2016. Bristol didn’t have a reputation for delivery and wanted a leadership that would get things done.

They voted for a bigger picture, for a vision of an inclusive, sustainable and fairer city committed to tackling the poverty and inequalities that undermined us. They voted for affordable homes, for jobs and for hope.

I don’t often quote Cllr Hopkins but he did once share with me – with all of us actually because it was in Full Council – that it’s easy to get elected, but the real test is to be re-elected. Having faced that test, we are confident the city wants us to continue to deliver ambition and compassion.

The election taught us all a lot:

  1. The city is changing – and certain areas are seeing dramatic changes in population and culture.
  2. We face the threat of growing divides – the old ones such as race, class, health, education, earnings. And new ones such as home ownership versus non-ownership, and those who have some trust in public institutions verses those who have none.
  3. We take our planetary responsibilities seriously.

The election also taught us that the conflicts and controversies, the shambles and scandals, worked up in this organisation and the way they are managed and driven through social media are often worlds away from the immediate challenges and complicated problems real people are facing in Bristol.

And we learned the people of Bristol are not interested in the weeds of the council. They want solutions to the problems they face every day, not abstract negativity, opposition for opposition’s sake. They want us to be a source of hope.

The people of Bristol don’t see the world in binary. Talking to so many people during the election:

  1. they appreciated the commitments on housing delivery but also understood the challenges that Brexit and Covid had presented in maintaining the levels of delivery.
  2. they appreciated the need to protect land for nature and tackle climate change but also the need to build homes for people a grow the economy for jobs.
  3. on Colston’s statue, many appreciated the need to tackle racism alongside a sense that the statue was important and symbolic. But they also appreciated the statue itself was not the solution to racism. Some held a fear that they were losing their history and some recognise the danger of ordinary people being manipulated by those who, for lack of any real political vision, revert to manipulating them in the culture wars.

There is are enough challenges and divisions in the world without us conjuring up new ones for whatever motivation.

People want us to be focussed on creating hope and delivery and a better city. They want us to be people who are able to wrestle with the complex challenges and contradictions that cities – in all their diversity – embody.

I will spend the next three years leading in three areas:

  1. Inclusion
  2. Sustainability
  3. Delivery

1. Inclusion means inclusive growth

It means jobs and homes in a diverse economy that offers pathways to employment for people at all skills and education levels.

Our challenge is to share a way of doing economic development that by its very nature redresses the historic and institutional drivers of inequality and social immobility. This rather than growing the economy and then tacking a couple of equalities initiatives on the back end.

2. Sustainability means delivering against the climate action plan and the ecological action plan

It means working as a council. But it also means working as a city doing all we can to decarbonise the energy, transport and food systems on which our cities depends. It means not dealing with any single issue in isolation but recognising the interdependence of poverty, class, racism and climate change.

On that front, I will share the insight of someone who recently gave a speech to a Multi-Faith meeting on the environment that was organised by Afzal Shah. He shared with a gathering of black, white and Asian Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and Jews how too often environmentalism had been a voice of divisive and accusational politics when what it should have been a cause for unity in the face of a global challenge.

We need to hear that challenge.

Sustainability means not shying away from the housing crisis and the difficult conversations about density and sustainable city centre locations.

It means bringing investment into green jobs and a transition to a low carbon economy.

3. Delivery means continuing to get stuff done

Delivery means lives change. Homes are built. Children are fed. Women and girls no longer in period poverty. Ground source and water source heat pumps and installed. Schools are built. City areas are pedestrianised. Jobs are generated. Homeless people are housed.

You can measure action by the number of cranes on the horizon. They are a clear example of the modernisation of the city, of continuing growth and opportunity.

Delivery means continuing to work as a city, not just a council. Working with partners and continuing to meet city challenges with all partners, cleaner air, a living wage city, mass transit, a living rent city, a city where diversity of thought leads modern 21st century city and continuing to put cities at the forefront of political, economic and social challenges – putting cities in front of challenges where governments fail.

We have the challenge of leading a city that is growing in size of population, need, diversity and inequality within the same geographical area of land. We do this while facing up to the environmental, economic, political, social and moral need to face up to tackle the climate and ecological crisis. And sometimes the things we must do to meet one area of these challenges can threaten to undermine our efforts to meet another.

Conclusion

So I finish with the same offer I have always made: if you have an genuine offer, a contribution to make to our efforts to meet those challenges, if you want to turn up with solutions, the door is open. Come make that offer, and then tell me what you need from the city to enable you to deliver it.

The time I have as mayor is loaned to me by the city. It’s my job to invest it not in fruitless distractions and false politics, but in the people and initiatives that will make a difference for the city, our country and world.

Working in partnership

Today’s guest blog is from Ellie Freeman, chair of Action Greater Bedminster.

Ellie Freeman, Action for Greater Bedminster

I’ve lived in BS3 with my family for 12 years, and I’m currently chair of Action Greater Bedminster (AGB). In recent years, AGB has got more involved in planning and consultations. Several new developments are happening across Bedminster and Southville, and slightly further afield at sites like Temple Quarter, and the community was feeling increasingly anxious about the impact these would have on the local area.  

When the council’s Community Development team approached me about working with the council in the early stages of a project to regenerate the area around Whitehouse Street, I was keen to build on our experiences and jumped at the chance to get involved so early in the process.  

The project area is just up the road from Bedminster Green, which is an area that continues to have a lot of interest from the community, with a general sense that their concerns have not been taken on board by the various developers involved. Our hope at Whitehouse Street was to bring the community in on the ground floor.  

Working closely with the council’s project team, particularly the Community Development team, we agreed the scope of the work and the local partners we’d work with – Windmill Hill City Farm, Fun 4 Families and The Sanctuary.  I know Lynn from Community Development well from previous work and was glad to have her on board.  

Working with the council in this way – where AGB has been commissioned and paid by the council – has been a new experience, but it has helped us to have an open relationship where we have regular meetings and work to a set of shared principles.  

Since we started in February, I’ve got to know the Whitehouse Street area well. The engagement process has been thorough. We’ve hand delivered letters, taken surveys door to door to the few houses in the area, and met local residents to hear their views about the early proposals. COVID-19 has made life more difficult, but we’ve managed a project website with an online survey and interactive map to hear from people, as well as hosting online meetings with individuals and stakeholder groups.  

It hasn’t always been easy to keep that distance from the council – I’ve spent more time with council officers over the last year than anyone else – but working directly with them has given me a seat at the table to challenge and question ideas as they are developed.  Being paid for my time has also helped, not least by officially recognising AGB’s role in amplifying the voice of the community.  

AGB is committed to helping Bedminster thrive and grow, and Whitehouse Street can be a key part of this. Being a part of the project from the outset has been a huge learning curve. It hasn’t always been perfect, but the community having the chance to feed into the process directly has been refreshing. I’m pleased the council has taken this approach and I hope they continue to do so in future.  

Happy birthday, NHS!

Today is our NHS’s 73rd birthday. Throughout its history, the service has undergone extensive changes to meet the changing health needs of generations of Bristolians. And few years have seen our health service tested in the way covid-19 has.

This pandemic gives us pause to consider how we can safeguard the NHS for the future, and how we can better recognise the dedication, skill and compassion those working in our health service bring to their work every day. Here’s what we want the government to give the NHS for its birthday to keep our health service fit for Bristol’s future.

Bristol leaders mark NHS, Social Care, and Frontline Workers' Day -- 5 July 2021
Bristol leaders mark NHS, Social Care, and Frontline Workers’ Day — 5 July 2021

Rewarding health and care staff

The scale of the mobilisation that has taken place across Bristol’s health and care service in response to covid-19 has been extraordinary. Hospitals across the country have cared for around 400,000 covid-19 patients, and the NHS has rolled out the biggest vaccination programme in health service history. In Bristol, 68% of the population has received at least one dose of a covid-19 vaccine. Care staff have been particularly vital in this effort – 88% of residents in social care settings across England are now fully vaccinated. This could not have been achieved without the skill and dedication of NHS and social care staff and the support of thousands of volunteers. Their commitment must be remembered and rewarded – and we especially need to offer better support for unpaid carers in the future who do so much to keep friends, family members and loved ones safe and cared for in Bristol.

A sustainable settlement for social care

The pandemic has shown that pressures on the NHS can accelerate and intensify without a sustainable social care system that ensures residents are cared for and healthy before and after they receive hospital care. Yet Bristol, like many other places, faces significant financial pressures in adult social care. We’re doing what we can to help meet the growing demand for social care in Bristol, transforming our systems to that people live healthier and more independent lives in their own homes for longer, while ensuring people can easily get the help they need at the right time. But our reforms will only go so far without a wholescale national reform of how care for residents is delivered and funded.

It is not just Labour politicians like me calling for the government to deliver the plan for social care that the Prime Minister promised on his first day in the job. Nine out of ten councillors from across the political spectrum have called on the government to give greater priority to social care and to give our care systems more resources now. This needs to include more investment in prevention, a strategy for meeting unmet care needs, as well as long-term investment to tackle the scale of costs facing the sector – including preventing people from having to sell their homes to pay for care when they need it.

A Health and Social Care Bill that works for – and with – Bristol

These challenges could be met – in part – by the upcoming Health and Social Care Bill which the government is due to publish this week. We expect that the Bill will more closely integrate health and social care, and do away with the “Lansley” reforms introduced through the Health and Social Care Act in 2012. In theory, this would enable the NHS, local government, and Voluntary and Community Sector to work as equal partners, creating a much more collaborative environment without the competition that the Conservative and Lib Dem coalition government introduced in 2012.

NHS, Social Care, and Frontline Workers' Day flag flying above City Hall
NHS, Social Care, and Frontline Workers’ Day flag flying above City Hall

On this basis, we would support these reforms – though I remain concerned about the impact of such a dramatic reorganisation of the NHS when our health and care services are still dealing with high numbers of cases of covid-19. If they get it right, there is an excellent opportunity to invest in community health and preventative measures to ensure that the NHS and social care have a sustainable foundation for the long term. But that vision won’t be realised if this is a Bill cooked up in Whitehall with no reference to local people, places and contexts. This Bill must ensure that any reforms can be shaped to suit local circumstances, allow for meaningful integration of health and care services, and – above all – empower Bristol residents to drive the health and care services they want in their communities.

If the government delivers on these crucial issues, we’ll be celebrating the birthday of our thriving NHS for many more years to come.

Bristol – Gold Food Sustainable City

Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor for Communities, Equalities, and Public Health and Chairperson of the Going for Gold Steering Committee.

You may have noticed some eye-catching billboards popping up like mushrooms across Bristol this week, heralding our new status as a Gold Food Sustainable City.

As the Chairperson of the Going for Gold steering committee, I know this exciting accolade is the result of our 18-month long Going for Gold campaign which included the whole city.

The Going for Gold movement was about a collective ambition to make Bristol’s food system better – better for our people, our city and the planet.

It builds on the incredible work of over 120 organisations supporting a Good Food Movement (GFM) in our city that led Bristol to receiving a Silver Sustainable Food Cities award in 2016.

As only the second city in the UK to achieve Gold (Brighton and Hove were awarded Gold last year), the Sustainable Food Places Board recognised us for our innovative approach towards tackling food inequality, reducing waste and increasing urban growing.

The accolade also acknowledged Bristol’s GFM and our efforts in tackling the impacts of food on public health, nature, and climate change.

Sustainable Food Places leads a growing movement of people and organisations across the UK, who are working towards making healthy, sustainable, local food, a defining characteristic of where they live.

The bid was a One City collective effort led by Bristol City Council, Bristol Food Network, Bristol Green Capital Partnership and Resource Futures, as well organisations, citizens and food outlets across the city who logged almost 2,000 positive food actions on the Going for Gold/Bristol Bites Back Better website.

Now we have achieved Gold it is not the end of this journey. The pandemic was a powerful catalyst in heralding in a much-needed change in how we feed our city.

This work has rallied a powerful momentum in Bristol and sown the seeds for a decade of building a diverse, inclusive, resilient and flourishing food community that can bring real change by 2030.

Our focus is now the One City Food Equality Strategy and Action Plan and the Bristol Good Food Plan 2030. On World Hunger Day, the Mayor reaffirmed our city’s commitment to help over 10,000 households in the city that are experiencing food poverty.

Working with a number of partner organisations and in a One City collective approach, we are developing a Food Equality Strategy and a Bristol 2030 Good Food Action plan.  The pandemic has increased levels of food insecurity in our most vulnerable communities and our success as a Gold Sustainable Food City has given us the added momentum to tackle food insecurity head-on.

To continue our journey towards a resilient food system in Bristol, we all need to be involved, at home and at work, in communities and through our institutions and I am excited to see the next phase of this work take shape.

Saluting and Supporting our Armed Forces Communities

Today’s guest blog comes from Cllr Helen Holland, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Armed Forces Champion for Bristol City Council.

This Saturday is Armed Forces Day where we take the opportunity to recognise the contribution those in our armed forces communities make to our city and country. This year in particular, our armed forces have played a vital role in many aspects of the national response to Covid-19 – from distributing PPE, supporting testing and vaccinations, and working alongside countless community organisations supporting residents in need.

Since taking on the role of Armed Forces Champion in the council earlier this year, I have enjoyed learning more about the needs and experiences of our armed forces communities, and look forward to meeting those organisations in person as restrictions lift.

Bristol is home to a number of reserve units across the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force. According to data published in 2017, over 16,000 veterans live in the Bristol area, and as the recent census asked the question about serving in the armed forces for the first time, we look forward to getting the results of that so that we have the most up to date information about our veteran population in the city.

All local authorities in the country are signatories to the Armed Forces Covenant, which is a commitment to ensure that members of armed forces communities receive the support they need in recognition of their dedication and sacrifice. However, we also want to make sure that members of the armed forces and veterans, and their families, are integrated into local life in the city and that we promote understanding of the issues affecting the armed forces communities in Bristol. A multi-disciplinary group of Council officers meet, alongside forces representatives, and agencies such as the Royal British Legion, SSAFA, and the DWP to ensure that our work is as joined-up as it can be, and I want to work to raise the profile of that work. 

One of the aspects of this work is making sure that veterans and members of armed forces communities are supported into employment, which is why Bristol City Council, alongside 67 other businesses have signed their own covenants. At the council, we are developing a work programme specifically to support employees who are veterans and reservists to ensure their needs are accommodated and they are supported to thrive in their careers at the council.

We know, however, that there is more work to do across a range of city services to help those who serve – or have served – in the armed forces to thrive. Access to mental health support continues to be a crucial issue. Research from Kings Centre for Military Health Research indicates that rates of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in 2014-16 had grown to 6% – higher than the population average of 4%. Information on specific support through the NHS for serving personnel and veterans is available here.

Labour’s Shadow Defence Team have set up a network of Armed Forces Champions to ensure that the voice of armed forces communities are represented in national policy. We are campaigning to make sure the Armed Forces Covenant is fully enshrined in law, to promote a new duty of care from the Ministry of Defence to give veterans better legal and mental health support, and to ensure that Commonwealth veterans have visa fees scrapped. They are also keen to hear from veterans about their experiences directly – if you are an armed services veteran you can complete their survey here.

Meanwhile it was my pleasure to attend the flag-raising for Armed Forces Week on Monday alongside the Lord Mayor and representatives of our service units in Bristol, and where we were able to #SaluteOurForces. On Saturday, I encourage you to join in.

World Refugee Day 2021

Today’s guest blog is from Forward Maisokwadzo, Mayor’s Inclusion Advisor.

Forward Maisokwadzo

‘On World Refugee Day  it’s an important time to listen to the stories of people seeking sanctuary in Bristol and to reflect on what they can teach us about the city we are and the city we want to become.’

Dana* applied for asylum immediately when he arrived in the UK and was housed by the asylum support system in Liverpool. He got to know some members of the Kurdish community – but they moved on to Bristol. Dana’s initial asylum claim was refused. Although Dana appealed, he couldn’t find legal representation and he attended the court session alone. Sadly, Dana was refused again, and his asylum support accommodation and subsidence were immediately stopped.

With no support and nowhere to go, Dana remembered the community he had met who had moved to Bristol and followed them here. Dana was homeless sleeping in a small tent in Eastville Park. Dana’s mental and physical health were poor – he felt frustrated and upset. He struggled to access the medical care that he needed. After some time, he was able to find members of the community that he met in Liverpool and they helped him a bit, sometimes letting him stay on their sofas or giving him money for food. Sometimes a local Kurdish restaurant would let Dana eat for free. The community were truly kind. But even with this limited support times were difficult – Dana was constantly moving around – never sure where he could sleep or what support would be there. Dana was always in other people’s spaces – relying on their kindness and hospitality.

“Thankfully I have managed to get past that difficult time.”

In 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic the Central Government enacted a policy called Everyone In – which funded local authorities to temporarily house anyone who was homeless. This policy recognised that being homeless was a public health risk as it was not possible for homeless people to self-isolate to protect themselves or others from the Covid-19 outbreak. This policy applied to everyone no matter their immigration status. Dana was housed by Bristol City Council in a hotel.

“It was incomparable to where I was before.”

While in the hotel Dana received £10 per week destitution support from a local charity Borderlands. While being supported in the hotel however he had been put in touch with Bristol Hospitality Network (BHN) a local charity who provide hosted accommodation for individuals in Dana’s situation while they work to regularize their status. As Everyone In comes to an end Dana has been given temporary accommodation in a BHN house and receives a £20 per week allowance from them, this means Dana will not have to face homelessness in Bristol again.

“When I heard that the Everyone In accommodation wouldn’t be extended it was stressful. I was worried. But at least for now I get £20 weekly income from BHN and I have temporary accommodation from BHN too which is great.”

Dana’s story is not an isolated one. We have encountered several refused asylum seekers who are impacted by the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) and the current Immigration policy. NRPF is a condition that is applied by the Home Office to individuals with a number of different types of immigration status. Those subject to NRPF do not have access to a wide range of benefits and support, which can leave them facing crisis and destitution without the safety net that most of us take for granted.

Today 20th June is World Refugee Day. And its theme “We Cannot Walk Alone” should challenge or rather inspire us to develop welcoming communities, including here in Bristol, a declared city of sanctuary. Dana’s story is a clear example. It’s true the Covid-19 pandemic has presented challenges to all of us and shown deep inequality in housing, health, economy etc. But it has also shown how interconnected we are and that we are part of a shared ‘us’. I witnessed the revolution of generosity across Bristol in response to the pandemic, people from our diverse communities supporting each other. And I hope this will be continued across the City and beyond.

These words “We Cannot Walk Alone” resonate across space and time including here in Bristol and across the world. The story of Dana demonstrates that by coming together and if we choose to walk side by side, share networks and resources we create deeper and longer lasting change than is possible alone. In Bristol we take a One City Approach to confront these challenges. Our collaborative work with the refugee sector to support people housed through Everyday In has shown working together produce better results. Lessons learnt from this work supporting people subject to NRPF can be accessed here.

As we celebrate the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution, let us use the occasion to build empathy and understanding for their plight and to recognise their resilience in rebuilding their lives. As the UN’s refugee agency UNHCR says, “together we heal, learn and shine.” People seeking sanctuary like Dana cannot be left to walk alone.

*name changed

Bristol’s Anne Frank Tree

Today’s guest blog is from Elinor Beard, a nine-year old pupil from Fishponds. Elinor spoke at Tuesday’s unveiling of the new plaque at the Anne Frank Tree on Brandon Hill.

On June 8th I was invited to Brandon Hill park to speak at the unveiling ceremony of a plaque for a tree planted in Anne Frank’s memory. It was a great experience and there were so many wonderful speeches.

When I was six years old, my grandma bought me Anne Frank’s Diary. I was too young to understand what it meant at the time, but since then I have read it three times. It inspires me and she is like an imaginary friend. She is in my head telling me to hang in there when I find something difficult. I feel like we are connected in some way. 

Anne Frank is my heroine. She always found the positive. Even at the end of her life she still wrote about her dreams and hoped that she would come out of the war alive. When I have Anne by my side, I am not afraid. If she lasted through her terrifying experience for as long as she did, then what I am scared of looks easy.

Every day in the annex got worse for Anne and her family and they feared any knock on the door. Every day she lived in fear. What I find most horrific is how she almost made it to the end of the war. If she would have lived just a few more weeks, she would have survived and seen the world she longed for.

“In spite of everything, I still believe people are really good at heart.” That’s what Anne Frank believed. She also believed people should be treated equally. During her life in hiding, her writing showed her faith in humanity even though her situation was very dark. She kept on writing and she kept making her family happy. One of the most amazing things about her was her ability to keep going when everything was falling apart. She was one of the many children in the Holocaust who lost their lives. Jewish children like me and even children who weren’t Jewish. 

During the ceremony on June 8th, there were some moving speeches. I was especially moved by the words of Edward Crowson (above) from the Holocaust Educational Trust when he described his guilt of being cold at Auschwitz and the depths of “how far human-kind could hate.” Edward continued, “How could I possibly complain of feeling cold… compared to those who were previously imprisoned in the camps.” This touches me because it shows how lucky we are to have the things we take for granted. Just as Edward said, they were freezing cold with nowhere to turn at Auschwitz. What’s also inspiring is what the Holocaust Educational Trust is trying to teach. Their aim is to share the testimonies of those who suffered during the Holocaust with as many young people as possible. It is very important that we share stories like Anne’s. Soon the people who lived those terrifying experiences won’t be able to tell their stories anymore. It is up to people like me to do it. I urge you to share their stories with as many young people as you can so it never happens again.

Anne said, “I don’t want to have lived in vain like most people. I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people. Even those I have never met. I want to go on living even after my death.” And she did. This tree proves it. This tree will outlive all of us and so will Anne’s spirit.

Taking on the Climate Smart Cities Challenge in Bristol

If there is one thing we rise to in Bristol, it’s a challenge. As One City, we need to urgently tackle the climate and housing crises we find ourselves in. As the first city in the UK to declare a climate emergency and an ecological emergency, and as a city committed to delivering the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, we are delighted to have been chosen by Nesta Challenges and UN Habitats as a Climate Smart City for focusing on finding innovative ways to deliver affordable, low carbon housing.

The aim of the challenge is for partners to support innovators in developing, testing and scaling cutting-edge solutions to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions as well as delivering a significant social impact to local people. In January, applications were sent in from cities all over the world, with only four being selected. Makindye Ssabagabo in Uganda, Botoga in Columbia and Curitiba in Brazil will be joining Bristol in the next stage. Each city’s challenge will be formally launched by Nesta and UN Habitat at a World Expo in Dubai in October 2021.

 There is a lot to do before then so the City Office, in partnership with Bristol Housing Festival, Bristol City Council, and other city stakeholders, has already started work around defining the detail of the challenge for Bristol. As a city, we will look at devising a model of housing development that brings collaboration to the forefront whilst also making it financially viable and sustainable for the future.

At the end of last week, a two-day ‘Discovery’ workshop was held to look at our specific locale, our history, our communities, the environments we have as well as other key aspects that make sure Bristol’s needs are being considered from a number of perspectives.

Following the immediate feedback from those that attended, we will now undertake wider stakeholder engagement with city partners, before a second workshop in July where the challenge brief will be finalised before the official launch of the project towards the end of the year.

The time for change is now and being part of the Climate Smart Cities Challenge, enables us to bring new ideas to the table which will help decarbonise our affordable housing, from a grassroots level, and through a One City approach.

To find out more about the Challenge go to: Climate Smart Cities Challenge — Bristol Housing Festival

Sands United Bristol FC

Today’s blog is from Sands United Bristol FC, to mark Sands Awareness Month.

How long does a football match last? 90 minutes, 120 with extra time. Think of all the things that could happen within that time – your team could reach a cup final. What about off the pitch? You could sit with friends and family and watch a film.

For some though, during the course of that football match their world will be turned upside down. Every day in the UK nearly every 2 hours a family is faced with the devastation of the death of their baby before, during or shortly after birth.

SANDS is the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Support charity. It exists to support anyone affected by the death of a baby. Here in Bristol, there is a local Sands support group – Bristol Sands (Bristol.sands.org.uk) who provide that support in a variety of ways. Sadly though, men can often feel isolated and feel that there isn’t support there for them. However, in Bristol there is a unique avenue of support for any man affected by such a loss – Sands United Bristol FC.

We are a football team providing support on and off the pitch. Founded just over 2 years ago it gives men (mainly dads) an outlet for their grief. An opportunity to be around other men and share stories and support each other through tough times – either face to face or using WhatsApp. We are a part of the Bristol Sands support group and are one of 30 Sands United FC teams around the country.

Every player in the team is a part of a club that nobody wants to be a part of, but a club that has the highest cost of membership.

We’ll never know what interests our babies would’ve had as they grew up. For example, would they have been into playing sports. A couple of times a month, at training and in matches, we have a go at answering that question and we play with our babies and for our babies. Each player in the squad plays with a shirt that has very personal meaning to them. It carries their babies name or names and a squad number chosen for them.

We aren’t interested in your football ability, we aren’t interested that the last time you played football was at school (and that’s more years ago than you care to remember!!), we aren’t interested in your level of fitness either.

The football team is only interested in one thing – that you are looking for support!!

If you’ve experienced the death of a baby and are looking for support then please just search for ‘Sands United Bristol’ on any social media channel, or go to our website sandsunitedbristol.com

As one of our players once wrote ‘We play for the best worst team in football’.

We are Sands United Bristol FC