We are fuelling creativity in Bristol through international links

“Bristol’s four UNESCO world class designations help show what an exceptional place it is.  Bristol is brimming with diverse innovation, talent and creativity. Its One City Plan, aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, is helping make it an even better place to live.”James Omer Bridge, Secretary-General, UK National Commission for UNESCO

Mayor Marvin Rees is pictured second from the right, sitting next to UK Ambassador and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, Laura Davies. Councillor Asher Craig is pictured on the left of the image.

Last week we welcomed senior representatives from UNESCO to Bristol, including the UK Ambassador and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, Laura Davies, and Secretary General and Chief Executive of the UK Commission for UNESCO, James Bridge. They were accompanied by senior representatives connected with UNESCO policy from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

As a specialist global agency, UNESCO’s role is to support peace and security by building international cooperation in education, sciences, culture, communication and information. It has a global portfolio of designations that promote sustainable development, protect culture and foster peace. UNESCO’s programmes contribute to the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) so they clearly align with our One City Plan and sustainability aims.

Uniquely, Bristol has four UNESCO links; designated a UNESCO Creative City of Film and a UNESCO Learning City, as well as Memory of the World status for Brunel’s Screw Propeller Report (housed at the SS Great Britain) and a UNESCO Chair in Inclusive, Good Quality Education, Professor Leon Tikly at the University of Bristol. This important relationship forms part of Bristol’s wider International Strategy. Our goal is to work with the world for local and global benefit, achieving our vision of a stronger, more inclusive city, and providing leadership on the global development goals. Aligning with UNESCO adds impetus to key pieces of work and connects us with international city networks.

During the visit, we demonstrated how, being a UNESCO City of Film unites partners working across film and moving image education, culture, production, research and technology. A roundtable meeting brought UNESCO representatives together with key stakeholder organisations, including Aardman Animations, BFI Academy SW, Blak Wave Productions, Encounters Festival, Latent Pictures, MyWorld/University of Bristol, UWE Bristol, and colleagues from the West of England Combined Authority.

UNESCO delegates met with Mayor Rees, Deputy Mayor, Cllr Asher Craig and Black South West Network representatives to discuss the city’s important memorialisation and legacy work. They heard about the work taking place under the One City Plan to deliver against the UN SDGs, and visited The Bottle Yard Studios and the SS Great Britain to see Brunel’s revolutionary Screw Propeller Report.

The City of Film designation forms part of the council’s Culture and Creative Industries strategic work. Now in its sixth year, it has become a vehicle for citywide and international partnerships that bring social value, as well as economic impact.

The impact of having the City of Film title is demonstrated in our most recent Membership Monitoring Report which details inspiring projects that have advanced the city’s film and moving image industry throughout the first four years of our City of Film status. It focuses on local and international developments and highlights advances made by the many committed city partners who strive to improve industry representation and access, enrich audience experience and nurture the creative talent base.

In recent years, work under the City of Film designation has successfully supported a range of initiatives, including:

A meeting between UNESCO Ambassador to the UK, Mayor Marvin Rees, Councillor Asher Craig and Black South West Network stafft is pictured.

Internationally, Bristol’s creative projects are gaining important recognition through the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (comprising almost 300 global cities). Last year, CARGO Movement’s People’s Platform was selected by UNESCO as an example of good practice and presented as part of the 2022 Annual UNESCO Creative Cities Network Conference in Santos, Brazil. The presentation to an audience of global city leaders sparked conversation about how Bristol uses film and moving image to better understand the past, present and future of our city.

Last week’s UNESCO visit was a chance to showcase this work and build on the links we have established through the UNESCO designations and our One City Plan. We look forward to continuing this important relationship and harnessing the benefits that it brings to the city. 

The Spring Budget and the Cost of Living Crisis

The impacts of the cost of living crisis will continue to be felt beyond this winter. Nationally, the latest data shows the number of households where children are experiencing food insecurity has doubled in the last year, with an additional 2 million households falling into fuel poverty over the same period.

In Bristol, the cost of living has been most intensely felt by households in deprived areas; our annual Quality of Life survey revealed that 16% of respondents from deprived areas had experienced some form of food insecurity in the last 12 months, compared with 8% across Bristol. With prices set to steadily rise throughout 2023, we’re continuing to work across the council and with partners to provide the local support that people need.

Our collective response to the cost of living – just as it was for the pandemic – has shown the best of Bristol. I’m grateful to our voluntary and community sector who we’ve worked with to establish a network of around 95 Welcoming Spaces across the city. Our One City approach to taking on the challenge has recently been highlighted by the Local Government Association. Our funding of Community Hubs and advice services has ensured that Bristolians have been connected and well informed during the winter period.

We’ve worked hard to target government supported funding and our local discretionary fund to those who would benefit the most. Since April 2022, we have supported 22,000 school children with food vouchers throughout the holidays, awarded 660 Discretionary Housing Payments and supported over 6,200 emergency payments and household goods awards through the Local Crisis Prevention Fund. We’re developing plans for the next round of the Household Support Fund with the likes of WECIL, Bristol Age UK, Feeding Bristol and the Centre for Sustainable Energy to make sure our funding goes further.

I’m proud of the way Bristol’s communities, businesses and organisations have come together to offer support to people who have reached crisis point during the last year, but it’s clear that these responses have only become necessary because of the government’s sustained underfunding of public services and lack of any long-term ambition to tackle poverty and inequality.

As the latest figures on food and fuel poverty show, the government cannot assume that the worst of the cost of living is over. We are calling on the government to use Wednesday’s Spring Budget to continue to protect those households and communities who are most impacted by increased costs. I want to publicly support the following asks of government:

These interventions would cost a small amount to government but would give people much needed stability and protection, and would make a long-term difference to the number of people who require more costly interventions from the NHS or homelessness services. In Bristol we will continue to build a city of hope to people who find themselves in crisis, but we’re calling on government to do more to prevent people from reaching that point in the first place.

One Front Door: supporting Bristolians into work or training

Councillor Asher Craig, smiling, with trees in the background.
This guest blog is from Councillor Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor for Children Services, Education, and Equalities and Labour Councillor for St George West ward.

This week at Cabinet we invested another almost £700,000 in One Front Door, our employment support service. Led by the Employment, Skills and Learning team, we will continue to fill gaps in employment support, enabling us to help many more people and businesses in the city.

From the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, we have been strengthening our citywide partnerships and employer networks to provide this vital service. Helping local people start work for the first time, get back into employment or to begin apprenticeships and other work-based qualifications.

The One Front Door service has given people much needed access to training opportunities, personalised advice, practical help from careers coaches as well as offering guidance to employers to help them network and fill their vacancies.

Since starting, One Front Door has helped over 700 local people with help tailored to their needs. This includes 218 people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, 94 young people aged 18-24, 144 people over 50, 155 people with mental health issues, 11 care leavers, and 40 homeless people. In addition to this, over a hundred laptops have been given out through our digital inclusion scheme to help people train and apply for jobs. With over 28 job fairs taking place and the team attending over 53 other events, support has spread all over Bristol, providing thousands of local people with links to potential employers, resulting in over 1,500 job interviews and 700 jobs.

The Lord Mayor is pictured, in the middle of staff from One Front Door. They are at a campaign event at the galleries.

An example of someone who has worked with the service is Iryna. She arrived here from Ukraine and is one of 82 Ukrainian refugees who have registered with One Front Door. She found out about the support offered at a Ukrainian hub in the city and worked with one of our career progression coaches to find employment. Together they reviewed her CV and went through various courses, apprenticeships and events of interest. Iryna went to local job fairs to talk directly to employers, and also helped other attendees on the day by translating for them. Following the support and guidance she received from the team, Iryna has now started working at Co-Op and is receiving further support from our Future Bright programme (providing in-work support) to develop her career further. Iryna was also referred to Wheels for Work which has helped her with travel costs getting to work.

One Front Door also works in tandem with Ways2Work, where employers and training providers keep us up to date with all the opportunities that are currently available so we can share them with the hundreds of people already linked into our network. If you would like to join them, you can sign up to receive the emails on our website.

The success of the service so far has made a real difference and we are happy that unemployment levels have fallen in the city overall, but we still need to do more. This additional grant funding, secured from the combined authority, will help us focus efforts on our more disadvantaged communities and on people directly and disproportionately impacted by the current cost of living crisis.

Bristol's Lord Mayor is pictured cutting ribbon for the launch of One Front Door.

One great addition and new for 2023 is Bristol Launchpad, based on the ground floor of the Galleries. This new facility provides a one-stop-shop for anyone in Bristol looking for jobs, training or to become self-employed. Through a partnership of Bristol City Council, City of Bristol College, the Department of Work and Pensions, and the National Careers Service, you can access meeting rooms, hot desks and training facilities to help make your dreams of getting the perfect job, or running your own business, a reality. If you could benefit from a chat with the team, give them a call on 0117 9223440 or fill out an online form at the bottom of the One Front Door website to contact one of our career coaches

How WE WORK for Everyone is helping people in Bristol

Councillor Asher Craig, smiling, with trees in the background.
This guest blog is from Councillor Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor for Children Services, Education, and Equalities and Labour Councillor for St George West ward.

Employment rates for people with learning disabilities, learning difficulties or who are autistic have remained consistently low for many years. In fact, nationally only 5.1% of people with learning disabilities, known to their local authority, are in paid employment. This is often due to barriers accessing the opportunities, support and training they need to get into paid work, and onto a career path that suits them. Finding your perfect job is not just about money, it is about independence, feeling valued and being part of something.

This year’s National Careers Week (6-11 March) has the theme ‘Together’, where we can all inspire, motivate and empower people, to create positive change for everyone. We can do this by encouraging people to get the support they need to move into the world of work for the first time or to find a career more suited to their skills and needs. Bristol aims to be a city of ambition and opportunity for all, despite any extra challenges people may face in day-to-day life.

Through We Work for Everyone, a regional employment programme managed by the Employment, Skills and Learning Team that covers Bristol, South Gloucestershire, North Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset, we are helping to break down barriers and get more people with learning disabilities, learning difficulties or who are autistic into paid work. All job seekers that contact us will receive one to one support, help with writing their CVs, advice for interviews and access to computers and IT support. This support continues even if you find a role, as we know the importance of having a continued support network behind you to give you confidence and help you to thrive.

Since starting in 2021, WE Work for Everyone has engaged with over 1000 participants, businesses and voluntary and community sector organisations. We offer employability advice and guidance, and supported internships, and in the last 12 months we have supported over 150 people into paid work.

Scott is a great example of someone who recently secured a paid job. His ‘WE Work’ Navigator helped him start a job with GXO. The role matches his talents and interests with the needs of his employer. 

Previously, Scott travelled all over the world working as a monster truck driver and mechanic. He contracted meningitis and as a result, lost a great deal of confidence in his skills and abilities. Literacy had always been an issue, but it became an even greater challenge for Scott after his illness. As traditional recruitment asks for written applications, it made it impossible for him to independently apply for work.

With help from his Navigator, he realised he wanted to get into teaching, helping children and adults to recycle and repurpose old toys as remote-control recreational vehicles. They researched several local and national organisations and Scott now has access to a mentor for ten weeks to further explore his passion and develop a business plan. While building his dream career, Scott also needed a paid job to support his day to day living and reduce his isolation at home. He successfully applied for an operative role specialising in vehicle maintenance at GXO. Access to Work also supplied Scott with a digital assistive reading device so he could read safety signs and notices when at work.

He is now carrying out a key role for the business and has even improved productivity by making improvements which have resulted in fewer machinery breakdowns. These changes will now be rolled out across the business. 

Many employers in Bristol are already Disability Confident but we are keen to hear from even more local businesses and organisations that want to be part of this movement towards creating more diverse and inclusive workforces. Having increased diversity has rewarded employers by offering a hardworking and reliable workforce, with higher staff morale, reduced staff turnover and sickness, improved reputation and in turn, greater customer loyalty. WE Work are happy to support any employers looking to diversify their workforce and learn more supporting people with learning disabilities, learning difficulties and autistic people.

What better time to find out more than National Careers Week? To speak to someone about We Work for Everyone and how you can get involved, please call 0117 9223330 or email weworkforeveryone@bristol.gov.uk  

Supporting children in care and care leavers in Bristol

Councillor Asher Craig, smiling, with bushes in the background.
This guest blog is from Councillor Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor for Children Services, Education, and Equalities and Labour Councillor for St George West ward

When it comes to looking after the vulnerable children in our city, we have a great responsibility. Be it through early intervention to make sure children and families get the right response and the right help at the right time; by exploring options for arranging children to live with wider family and friends’ wherever possible; or the situations when their care becomes our responsibility.

Our ambition and a top priority is making sure that our children in care can stay close to their families, friends, and schools. Approved at yesterday’s Cabinet, our latest sufficiency strategy for children in care and care leavers sets out exactly how we will keep children local and increase placement stability.

Care leaver Martyna reflects on staying at her secondary school, “It was quite important for me to stay in that one place because I already had teachers I could trust, I had friends that knew my background and it just meant that I didn’t have to keep going through the same struggle again, of having to almost experience my trauma again by talking to new support networks about it.” Being able to keep children in Bristol not only reduces trauma but also means children can continue to rely on key support networks.

Our aims

  1. Keeping children local:

Deciding a child needs to come into our care is a last resort and we want to do all we can to keep children at home with their families, as long it is safe to do so.

We will achieve this through increased targeted early support for families on the edge of care. Bristol is one of 75 local authorities that will receive funding of £4.8m from the UK Government to support Family Hubs and the Start for Life programme. This funding will help us to support families to have the best start in life and prevent family breakdown.

  1. Same day and urgent need:

Short-term provision for children who have an urgent need for safety is necessary. We are also planning to grow our staff team. Having this in place will help us assess children who are in crisis, to stabilise them and prepare them for a more permanent living arrangement that fully meets their needs.

  1. Placement stability:

We want children in care to be able to develop secure attachments, however placement instability reduces this opportunity and can also intensify any existing behavioural and emotional difficulties. We will therefore expand our therapeutic support models for carers and for our children and young people to help reduce the need to end placements when the child is having difficulties.

A picture of three children, sitting alongside each other in a field.

Our current work

Our incredible fostering team are already working hard to increase local sufficiency so that children can stay local and maintain links to their networks and education and access health care. Two notable projects that they are currently working on is increasing foster carers in Bristol through an urgent appeal and ensuring children feel at home as much as possible through the creation new, smaller children’s homes.

Urgent appeal

The demand for foster carers is continuing to rise as we see more children come into care. In January 2023, there were more than 750 children and young people in care in Bristol but only 353 households fostering with Bristol City Council. We need more people to come forward to foster so that we can keep children in the local area.

Where we cannot find local foster homes for these children, there is a possibility we need to place them much further away in other parts of the country. To address this, we launched an urgent appeal at the beginning of the year calling on the people of Bristol to come forward.

We have seen a positive response so far, but we still need more people to come forward. Are you over 21 with a spare room? Become a foster carer and provide a child with a home in their city. Find out more at www.bristol.gov.uk.

Children’s homes

In Bristol, we are also working hard to increase the number of children’s homes we have locally so that children do not have to move away from the city and can stay close to their families, friends, and schools.

We also want these homes to feel like a place they can call home. This is why last year we set out a vision for our children’s home across Bristol, for opening smaller homes across the city. This allows us to provide children with an environment that feels more like a home and gives them a better quality of care with more one on one support from our dedicated team.

We have already opened four new, smaller homes across Bristol, with one opening in the spring and at least another three smaller homes due to open in the next couple of years, and we are already seeing results. In November 2022, we had an incredibly positive Ofsted inspection, with one of our children’s homes being judged by Ofsted as good with outstanding leadership and management. These smaller homes have been able to support younger children to stabilise, experience good care and then transition to foster care whilst also supporting young people with very complex needs.

Our corporate parent commitment

Bristol is committed to being an effective, caring, and ambitious corporate parent and we will show this through our love, our language, and our actions. We want them to be and feel heard, as demonstrated in our Belonging Strategy, where we asked Bristol’s children and young people if they see themselves, their histories, cultures and identities reflected in their city. 

We will do everything we can to make sure that our care-experienced children are set up for life, and this sufficiency strategy is a positive step forward to achieve this.

A image of two you people, pulling faces, staring at the camera.

Celebrating International Women’s Day in Bristol

Councillor Helen Holland, smiling with college green, Bristol Cathedral and trees in the background.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Helen Holland, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and the Integrated Care System and Labour Councillor for Hartcliffe and Withywood ward

International Women’s Day is such an important event in our calendar and one we support both here at the council and alongside many of our partners across the city. In order to meet our ambition of making Bristol truly inclusive, fair and equitable for all, people shouldn’t be disadvantaged or discriminated against because of their gender.

To help celebrate this year, we are delighted once again to be supporting a great free event at City Hall on Saturday 11 March. Led by Bristol Women’s Voice and supported by other organisations, the event will see speakers, activities and workshops going on throughout the day. There will also be a creche, with access to transport and translators available to help make participating and enjoying the day and all that is on offer as easy as possible.

The theme this year is to #EmbraceEquity. In Bristol, we want to be a city leading the way both on equality and equity while also creating somewhere that is safe for all who live, visit, or work here.

We have been working hard to make progress in a number of key areas.

Since 2017, any UK organisation employing 250 or more employees must report publicly each year on its gender pay gap measuring the difference between men and women’s average salaries. We report monthly on the gender pay gap and most recently it shows a fall in both the mean pay for men higher than that of women at 3.87 per cent and median pay for men higher than women at currently 8.99 per cent. At the moment, I’m pleased to say the City Council has the lowest pay gap amongst local Public Sector employers but we will of course keep working until it is closed completely.

Safety at Night for women is also a priority, shared with a number of organisations, including Avon and Somerset Police. Last year we published our own Women’s Safety Charter. This is a citywide call to action to make sure women are safe in Bristol at night, whether living, working, visiting, or studying in the city. This has led to some excellent work with the universities, especially focused on safety for new students when they first come to Bristol.

Also as part of this year’s International Women’s Day events, Bristol Women’s Voice are partnering with SARSAS and The Green House to organise a march through the city, leaving College Green at 5pm on Saturday, to highlight the amazing work these organisations do with people who have experienced domestic and sexual violence.

We also want to see more women in leadership positions, and we have an award-winning programme called Stepping Up which aims to do just that. They look to unlock potential and develop talent ensuring a fair representation of women as leaders, as well as progressing Disabled people and people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds too. Stepping Up can help you learn new skills, develop your network, and make the next step of your career in leadership. If this sounds of interest, there is still time to apply for the next round as applications remain open until 20 March.

As well as the march, the event on Saturday will feature lots of workshops, such as the poetry workshop using creative writing to explore how we age and the concept of becoming stronger and wiser as we get older. Another area of discussion as women get older is the approach to the menopause. Whilst some of the taboos around talking about the menopause have disappeared, some still exist, so to help document the different experiences locally, Healthwatch is asking for people to fill in their menopause survey. This will offer more information about the support and treatment that is available locally. If you can spare a few minutes please let Healthwatch know your thoughts and experiences.

Come and join us on Saturday, if you can. There will be something there for everyone, and if you can’t be there this year, can we just wish you a Happy International Women’s Day, celebrating the role of women in our city – and beyond!

A Tree-mendous Year for Trees in Bristol

Councillor Ellie King, smiling in front of Bristol's City Hall.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Ellie King, Cabinet member for Public Health and Communities and Labour Councillor for Hillfields

The One Tree Per Child team have been busy planting thousands of trees across the city this winter, with the support of hundreds of volunteers from all walks of life. It’s been a brilliant effort. With just over a month to go before the planting season comes to an end, we look set to have hit our target by planting around 16,000 new trees in Bristol. 

This includes ten new woodlands, over a thousand street and parkland trees, one Tiny Forest, eight new orchards, and two new hedgerows. We have also gifted over 4,000 fruit trees to children and young people via our schools tree programme. 

One Tree Per Child started to give every child in Bristol the opportunity to plant a tree and see it grow. Our commitment is to plant at least 6,000 trees per year – one for every child starting school. We could not achieve any of this without our One Tree Per Child Volunteers – who come out in all weathers and give their time and passion to make a difference – knowing that the small trees we plant now will grow to be the woods of tomorrow filled with wildlife, orchards laden with fruit, grand trees, or parkland trees keeping us cool, cleaning the air, keeping us in touch with the seasons, and giving simple joy to many. 

Our target is to double Bristol’s tree canopy – adding over 660 hectares or 1,300 acres, equivalent to 840 full sized football pitches. This is a big challenge requiring a big effort whether you are a landowner, citizen, or business leader. We are working with key stakeholders to develop a Bristol Tree Strategy and Tree Planting Plan and want to hear from people across the city about what you think about trees. We have opened a questionnaire, with participants having a chance to win a fruit tree delivered straight to your door.

How you can get involved

Be a One Tree Per Child volunteer – and help out at one of our tree planting events here or at one of our tree care days which take place over the spring and summer.

Complete our Tree Questionnaire (please share with your friends and family – the more responses we get the better).

Sponsor a tree – you can chose one of our pre-agreed planting locations or you suggest your own. 

Plant a tree in your garden – anytime up to the end of March is the best time to plant a tree, with plenty of choice at our very own Blaise Plant Nursery to suit any garden. Other local garden centres are also available. Over 4,000 children will be planting a tree in their garden this winter from our schools tree programme.

I want to say a huge thank you to the Council’s Tree Planting team, whose passion and commitment for increasing our canopy year on year is clear to see. They go above and beyond to make the sessions fun, engaging, informative and easy to understand. As I am sure all the volunteers would agree, it is a very satisfying and joyful experience that gives us a real sense of pride over our neighbourhoods. Thank you!

Welcoming Spaces: Bristol Rovers Community Trust

Today’s guest blog is from Costa Chard, Welcoming Spaces coordinator at Bristol Rovers Community Trust.

For over a month now we have been running our Welcoming Space at the Bristol Rovers Memorial Stadium, also called our ‘warm hub’, joining over 95 other spaces with open doors to the community. Not your typical Welcoming Spaces venue to be sure, yet one that has given us the opportunity to support those in our community who may be struggling with high energy bills during this national cost of living crisis.

Working together with the Lockleaze Neighbourhood Trust, our local area has some fantastic Welcoming Spaces available, offering a variety of activities for all who attend and I wanted to highlight what makes our warm hub space special in its own way.

We are located in the Bristol Room opposite the Thatchers Bar at the Memorial Stadium, offering a warm space every Tuesday afternoon, from 1pm until 4pm. We can guarantee everyone who turns up to our warm hub will receive a friendly greeting and be made to feel very welcome. Thanks again to the Lockleaze Neighbourhood Trust, we are also able to offer freshly made organic soup every Tuesday with bread rolls, tea and coffee available throughout, as well as the opportunity to charge your phone if needed.

Fans are pictured on the pitch at the Memorial Stadium following Bristol Rovers' 7-0 win in May 2022.

Our Welcoming Space has a unique setting, looking out over the beloved Memorial Stadium turf, as well as our wide range of activities which range from chess, quizzes, scattegories, games and cards and everything else in between. I have been taught by those who attend a card game called estimation whist, which I have to admit, up until our warm hub, I had never even heard of let alone played and it did take me quite a while to get used to the rules! It was a very enjoyable game, even though I lost, a great experience bringing our group together in what I am sure can at first appear, if you’ve never been before, a rather daunting experience.

We aim to be a Welcoming Space for everyone. It doesn’t matter how the rising cost of living is impacting you, if you want to meet other people or relax overlooking our grounds, we are here to welcome you. If you are interested in attending or wish to know more then please feel free to contact us: info@bristolroverscommunity.org.uk

All of us at the Bristol Rovers Community Trust hope to see you at our Welcoming Space soon, even if it’s just to share a warm cup of tea or coffee – it’ll be great to meet you.

To find out where your nearest Welcoming Space is visit the Bristol City Council website, where there is also lots of cost of living advice and signposting available.

Investing in a healthier future for Bristol

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Community-Led Housing in Barton Hill

Ruth Pickersgil (Left) and Abdullahi Farah (Right) from Bristol Somali Resource Centre are pictured in front of the former Tenants’ Hall building.
Today’s guest blog is from Ruth Pickersgill (left) and Abdullahi Farah (right), from Bristol Somali Resource Centre

The former Tenants’ Hall in Avonvale Road has stood empty for years. It is unsafe, covered in ivy and surrounded by rubbish (but a perfect home for a few bats who will be provided with alternative accommodation before the demolition takes place). This historic building has a proud history of being the Barton Hill Tenants Association Social Club, providing a place of safety and solidarity for the local community.

After the club closed, the site was taken back by the Council. It subsequently became clear that the building was in such a poor state of repair with collapsed floors etc., that it had to be demolished. This will happen in the next few months once planning permission has been secured. However, soon the site will be brought back to life by the community, for the community.

The Mayor’s Visit

Mayor Marvin Rees and Councillor Tom Renhard, Cabinet Lead for Housing, were invited to the former Tenants’ Hall site on Friday by the Bristol Somali Resource Centre (BSRC) staff and trustees, to hear about their exciting vision for its future. BSRC has campaigned for many years for more community space in Barton Hill, led by the enthusiasm of trustee Samira Musse, (who also runs the Barton Hill Activity Club) and is constantly looking for places for their children to meet in the holidays). The proposed development of the site will include a multi-use community space for local groups on the ground floor, (probably with a café and outdoor space), with social housing flats above (local homes for local people on the Housing Register).

A photo of Tenants Hall building, in Barton Hill.

Key Partnerships will make it happen

This is only becoming a reality due to a unique set of partnerships, and the commitment and vision of local people. Nothing would have happened without the proactive support and facilitation of the administration and Council officers, who secured a grant from the Brownfield Land Release Fund to bring a number of difficult sites around the city back into use for housing, and to meet the costs of the demolition of the building. They then embarked on a competitive process which has led to BSRC being the ‘preferred bidder’ for a long- term lease on the land. Initial design work was funded through a grant that the Council secured through the Local Government Association Housing Advisers Programme, which allowed us to ‘match make’ architects to community led housing projects.

While BSRC have a proven track record in advice and community work, we are just starting out in housing development so have needed dependable partners who understand our vision. We have been so lucky to be supported by Bristol Community Land Trust at every stage, advising and levering in the funding and expertise we need. We are also partnering with one50studio architects to develop the designs, ensuring sustainability and local needs will be central.

Community-Led Housing model is leading the way

Everyone knows we have a housing crisis in the city. As well as building new homes, including social and affordable housing, it’s important that we also think about the needs of communities. This is where community-led housing initiatives should be leading the way. Not only can this model deliver what local people want and need, but, as in this case, it can ensure the land is owned by the community in the long term, and so its future is secure.  

A group picture with Mayor Marvin Rees (third from the right) and Councillor Tom Renhard (fourth from the left) outside the former Tenants’ Hall building.

Developing the Vision into Reality

What is exciting about this development is that it is really is ‘community-led’. Supported by the Black South West Network and our other partners, BSRC have organised a number of consultation events and surveys to find out what local people want, and there is now a steering group to move us into the more detailed stage of the design process. It is really important we recognise the history of the former Tenants’ Hall. The Barton Hill History Group will be  preserving key artefacts  and we aim for the new build to be in keeping with the character of the local area.

The next stage will be to create the funding strategy and business plan and to identify a Housing Association to work with us to deliver the homes we desperately need in the area- so watch this space as our vision becomes a reality.