Continued support for Bristol’s Clean Air Zone

A Bristol Clean Air Zone sign, is pictured at the top of Park Street.

Bristol’s Clean Air Zone was introduced on 28 November last year to help protect the people of our city from the harmful effects of air pollution. We have a moral and legal duty to deliver cleaner air.

We knew that some people would need more time to adapt to the Clean Air Zone which is why we negotiated initial exemptions and secured extensions until 31 March. After four months, most of these exemptions will come to an end on 1 April. 

Overall, around four out of five vehicles driving in the zone already meet the zone’s requirements and aren’t being charged anything. This is a great step in the right direction.

Bristol has been instructed by government to introduce measures that will bring our city’s air quality within legal levels in the shortest possible time. This is because the nitrogen dioxide (NO2) which comes from older and more polluting vehicles has a serious impact on our health.

With that in mind, we have made sure that support is still available to Bristol’s residents and businesses who may need more help after exemptions end. Back in 2021, we secured a package of £42 million funding to help people to find ways to make their journeys in and around our city more sustainable. This is much more funding than other cities which have implemented Clean Air Zones

Grants and loans are still on offer to help you upgrade to a vehicle that won’t be charged in the zone. This doesn’t have to be a brand new or electric vehicle – it can be second hand as long as it meets the zone’s emissions standards. Support is available to Bristol based businesses and those on an income of less than £27,000, including Blue Badge holders. The £27,000 threshold is one which we had to push the government on too. It’s a lot higher than the £22,000 cap that was originally proposed.

It’s not too late to apply for this financial assistance and I would encourage anyone who needs support after March to get in touch by registering your interest on our website as soon as possible.

We also have free active travel offers available to anyone that lives or works in Bristol. This includes bike and e-bike trials, cycle training, VOI e-Scooter credit, bus and train taster tickets and car club credit. These offers are a great opportunity for people in Bristol to try out new ways of travelling that are better for their health, wellbeing, and the environment too. Changing just a few of your journeys each week can make a big difference. Apply on our website now to receive your free travel offers.

If you need advice or guidance about the Clean Air Zone, you can contact our team of advisors who are always happy to help. Take a look at the information on our webpages or give us a call on 0117 903 6385.

Building affordable homes for Bristol

Councillor Tom Renhard, smiling, with trees on College Green in the background.
This blog is from Councillor
Tom Renhard, Cabinet Member
for Housing Delivery and Homes.

Affordable housing projects are underway across Bristol and our new interactive map can show you where. 

The delivery of new affordable housing is a key priority for our administration, with a target of delivering 1,000 new affordable homes a year by 2024. The Mayor pledged to get Bristol building again and we have delivered much needed new homes for the city. Last year Bristol built 2,563 new homes with 474 of these being affordable, the most in more than a decade. Our data shows that there are over 1,300 new affordable homes currently being built across the city, with many more due to start on site over the coming months.

Our Project 1,000 Affordable Housing Delivery Plan outlines how we will focus the council’s land, time, money, and influence to improve the way affordable housing is delivered in Bristol. It is not just about the number of new homes we build; we are committed to developing mixed and balanced communities, working hard to make sure any new homes are suitable for the surrounding local area.

As part of this project, we have developed this online map of where affordable homes are being delivered across the city so everyone can keep up to date with the progress being made. This development pipeline map gives you information on the affordable homes currently being built and where future affordable homes are likely to be built.

The development pipeline map includes affordable housing delivered directly by the council, from our housing company Goram Homes, and third-party providers. Third party providers include our partner housing associations (registered providers), community-led housing groups, developers, and Build to Rent providers.

Examples of developments currently on the map include:

  • One Lockleaze – in partnership with Countryside Partnerships, Goram Homes is building 268 homes on a brownfield site in north Bristol, of which 55 percent will be affordable housing.
  • St Peter’s House – 28 council owned homes which are a mix of flats, houses, and maisonettes, a new Children’s Home, and a Community Centre are being built on a brownfield site in Horfield.
  • Broad Plain House – developed by Curo, Broad Plain will be 100% affordable housing, with 47 new homes including Social Rent, Affordable Rent and Shared Ownership.
A map of Bristol (right) highlighting where new affordable homes are being built. The Mayor of Bristol's logo is in the top left of the image. Below that, text reads: "1,300+ New Affordable Homes Being Built Here in Bristol, #DeliveringForBristol".

On the map you are able to see for each development:

•             The development name and postcode

•             Information on the developer and registered provider

•             Scheme description

•             Total homes

•             Total affordable homes

•             What type of affordable homes are being delivered e.g. number of social rented, shared ownership, or other affordable housing types.

•             Expected completion date

•             Link with further information on how to apply for the affordable homes

•             An image of the development

This key information can be used by people interested in renting or buying affordable homes in the city. In Bristol we have more than 19,000 households on our waiting list for social housing, along with over 1,200 households in temporary accommodation.

It is crucial that we continue to build a range of affordable homes to rent and to buy across the city, meeting the varied housing needs of the Bristol citizens who cannot afford to pay market prices. We’re moving ahead with plans to build social housing with the recent HRA budget approval putting forward £453m to deliver 1715 new council homes - over five years.

The Housing Delivery Team will be updating this information regularly.  As more affordable homes come through the planning system, we will be adding them to the map to make you aware of the opportunities.

This interactive map helps demonstrates the impact of Project 1000 and the council’s commitment to the delivery of affordable homes across the city. I hope you find it useful.

Ending homelessness in Bristol

Councillor Tom Renhard, smiling, with trees on College Green in the background.
This blog is from Councillor
Tom Renhard, Cabinet Member
for Housing Delivery and Homes.

People rough sleeping is the most visible form of homelessness, but we know that this is only a small part of the problem. Ultimately one person living on our streets is one too many and we will keep doing everything we can to work with people to help them turn their lives around and find a home to call their own. We remain committed to ending rough sleeping and building a city where nobody is left behind.

Figures published today suggest that the number of people sleeping rough in Bristol has fallen by around 15% in the last year. Nationally, having soared over the last decade, the figure is 3,069.

During the official annual count that took place last November, 58 people were found to be sleeping on the streets, down from 68 in 2021. We also know that during our own counts that take place throughout the year, the figure fluctuates. During the pandemic, additional support from government helped see the figure fall to around 20 – 80% down on earlier years.

While I am pleased to see that our continued efforts to support people who are rough sleeping has reduced the numbers sleeping on the streets, we are aware that there is still a constant flow of people ending up homeless, with many blockages to getting individuals back off the streets.

We receive a number of funding strands from government every year, including the Homelessness Prevention Grant, the Rough Sleeping Initiative (RSI), and the Rough Sleeping Accommodation Programme (RSAP), but the short-term nature of these pots makes it difficult for us to plan for the long term.

Cost of living crisis

Despite the drop in the number of people recorded as sleeping on the streets, we know that the national housing crisis is inextricably linked with the current national cost of living crisis. Many people face difficult choices of whether to heat or eat. Households across Bristol are struggling to afford to keep a roof over their heads, and we now face a perfect storm of spiralling rents and rising bills that threatens to push many towards the brink of homelessness.

Without significant government investment and positive movements in national policy, the levels of people reporting as homeless and ending up rough sleeping risks rising due to the pressure of rising bills and costs, coupled with the lack of affordable move on accommodation.

We remain committed to making sure as many people as possible do not return to, or end up on, the streets, but really need more long-term financial support from government, especially if we want to reduce the number of people housed in emergency accommodation.

In Bristol we have more than 19,000 households on our waiting list for social housing, along with over 1,200 households in temporary accommodation. House prices are beyond the means of most Bristolians, rent rises continue to outstrip wage growth, and the blight of section 21 evictions persist and threaten to destabilise the lives of households across the city. It is crucial that we continue to build a range of affordable homes to rent and to buy across the city, meeting the varied housing needs of Bristol citizens who cannot afford to pay market prices.

The main reason for this remains the national housing crisis, and the lack of affordable move on accommodation available for people to progress on from the emergency accommodation we provide. We have accelerated our own council house build programme, as well as supporting partners to build more affordable homes. Last year Bristol built 2,563 new homes with 474 of these being affordable – but these will obviously take time to construct, and we need to be able to support people much sooner.


Preventing homelessness also remains key and, working with partners, the council offers a range of prevention services including a welfare rights and money advice service, targeted support for people leaving hospital and prison, and a Youth Homelessness hub (Bristol Youth MAPS) to help young people to stay with their families where possible.

We also continue to develop our Housing First offering for people who have struggled with getting off the streets. This approach gives people access to housing, without them having prove they are ready for it. Once housed, they are then provided with intensive wrap around support to enable them to manage and sustain their tenancy. The Housing First model has shown some great results and helped to support some of the most vulnerable people in the city.

We must remember that homelessness is complex, and not everyone wants the support being offered at the time. People’s reasons for sleeping rough are often multi-layered and deeply personal which is why our approach with partners is to focus on understanding the individual’s needs whilst aiming to offer longer term stability. We will continue to work with people who are rough sleeping, reviewing their options and developing individual plans for everyone to leave the streets.

There remains a lot of support and services available for people who are rough sleeping, or at risk of homelessness, and I would encourage people to take that first step to reach out and get help.

Taking early action can avoid reaching crisis point. For more cost of living support and advice visit our cost of living webpage.

You can also call the We Are Bristol phone line on 0800 694 0184, Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5pm.

If you are concerned about someone who is sleeping rough, you can make a referral via Streetlink.

A young person is pictured, wearing a blue and black jumper, holding a carboard cut out of a house, with street art in the background.

CPR could be the most important lesson you ever learn

Ben Lee, the Relationship Fundraising Manager at the British heart Foundation, smiling, standing on a bridge with a city harbour and houses in the background.
Today’s guest blog is from Ben Lee, who is the Relationship Fundraising Manager at the British Heart Foundation.

Would you know what to do if a loved one had a sudden cardiac arrest in front of you?

A cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at any time – it could be someone you know or a complete stranger. And when it happens every second counts.

Knowing what to do in the ultimate medical emergency could be the difference between life and death.

According to new survey for the BHF, only half of people said they could perform lifesaving CPR on a loved one if the worst should happen.

Most cardiac arrests out of hospital take place in the home, meaning you are more likely to need these skills to save the life of someone you know.

This February as part of Heart Month, we have been calling on everyone to learn CPR using the BHF’s digital training tool, RevivR.

RevivR is free, quick and simple to use and in just 15 minutes you will be equipped with the skills that could help you save a life. All that is needed is a mobile phone and a firm cushion. 

RevivR teaches how to recognise a cardiac arrest, gives feedback on chest compressions and outlines the correct steps of using a defibrillator, giving anyone the confidence to step in and help.

It only takes 15 minutes – that’s a coffee break, half time in the football or the time you might spend scrolling through social media. So please put it on your to-do list today.  It could be the most important lesson you ever learn.

Alongside learning CPR with RevivR as part of Heart Month, we have also been asking people to “Go Red” to help fund groundbreaking research into heart and circulatory diseases, which affect around 46,000 people in Bristol.

We’re delighted that the Mayor of Bristol has joined in the “Go Red” challenge by lighting up the M Shed and City Hall in support of the campaign.  

The BHF is the largest independent funder of research into heart and circulatory diseases in the UK. Since we were established in 1961, our research and campaigning has contributed to the annual number of people dying from heart and circulatory diseases in the UK falling by half. Despite progress, heart and circulatory diseases still cause 70 deaths each month in Bristol.

We’re currently investing more than £15 million into research right here in Bristol – only made possible by the generosity of donations from the public. For example, researchers at the Bristol Heart Institute are investigating how they could improve the way surgeons treat children living with congenital heart disease, so they don’t need as many open-heart operations.

They have developed a revolutionary ‘heart plaster’. These patches have the potential to adapt and grow with the child’s heart as they get older, removing the need for repetitive heart surgeries and the many days at hospital recovering after each one. We are currently funding a project to ge these patches ready for testing in patients so clinical trials can start in the next two years, enabling more children and babies to benefit from the life-altering technology.

For more than 60 years BHF-funded research has turned ideas that once seemed like ‘science fiction’ into reality. By going red for the BHF this Heart Month, you will be supporting the discovery of new treatments and breakthroughs for heart and circulatory diseases and helping keep families together for longer.

To support the British Heart Foundation this Heart Month, visit  


Restoring the River Malago in a revitalised Bedminster

Today’s blog is by Cllr Nicola Beech, Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning, Resilience & Floods

We’ve taken an exciting next step in the regeneration of Bedminster Green and have submitted a planning application to restore a section of the River Malago that will allow us to bring back wildlife and reduce the risk of flooding in the area.

Restoring the river is one of the many benefits the regeneration of Bedminster Green will bring to the area, along with building much needed homes in our growing city, making it easier to travel and heat homes more sustainably, and helping to revive the local high street, East Street.   

The planning application also outlines proposals to restore heritage features, create a seating area on the green that will overlook the newly emerged river, and install an accessible path and boardwalk to improve access to the edge of the Malago. The project will run between plots 1, 3 and 5 of the Bedminster Green regeneration area along Dalby Avenue/Malago Road, Hereford Street, Whitehouse Lane and Clarke Street.

We have declared climate and ecological emergencies, committing to do as much as we can to combat climate change and bring back lost wildlife in Bristol. A big part of the river restoration project is about enhancing the channel and banks of the Malago to a more natural condition to encourage biodiversity. This will include widening the river corridor, altering the flow speed to allow vegetation to grow, and removing and treating invasive non-native species to allow native species to thrive.

An artist's impression of Bedminster Green shows a restored River Malago in the foreground, with trees and green space visible before buildings in the background.

On top of being a wonderful new feature for the community to enjoy, restoring sections of the river will help to reduce flood risk in the local area. We’ll do this by lowering ground levels in the green, installing a grid across the entrance to where the river goes back underground under East Street to trap debris and prevent blockages, and making the channel narrower to improve the speed of flows to prevent stagnation.

Our proposals also deliver improvements to the heritage of the river and will facilitate the repair of historic river channel walls. The river restoration will restore the existing penstock structure, which is a metal sluice gate that’s part of Bedminster’s industrial heritage.

If the planning application is approved, construction work will take place in phases from 2023 and will be coordinated with the other Bedminster Green development works. When complete, it will help to restore the river and heritage features, reduce flood risk in the area, and create high quality green space for existing and future residents of the proposed homes in the surrounding Bedminster Green and Whitehouse Street developments to enjoy for years to come.

The planning application can be viewed on the council’s website using the reference number 23/00611/FB.

Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine: One year on

Tetiana Konieva and Serhii Sharban are pictured with their sons, Mykhailo Kolkbrodov and Maksym Koniev. Tetian's mother, Olha Ryzhkova, is also pictured, along with  two dogs, Bruno and Zhan.

Today (24 February) we mark the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It is a sad day, and our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine. Thousands of people have lost their lives and millions have been displaced by the conflict.

Tetiana Konieva and Serhii Sharban, were forced to flee Ukraine last year with their young family, when the Russians invaded their city. Here they tell us of their long journey to freedom and why Bristol now feels like home.

Our “great journey” to England began on 24 February 2022. That day, we were awakened at 5am by powerful explosions. It was Russia launching their first missile strikes before invading our city. We lived in Kharkov, the second largest city in the Ukraine, which is located about 40 km from the border with Russia. That morning Russian tanks were already 1 km from our house.

Not suspecting anything, thinking that this was a misunderstanding, and it would be resolved, we went to work and treated it like any normal day. You don’t imagine that your country is going to be invaded. But many people had already left the city or evacuated. It soon became known that because the city had not surrendered there would be a bombing raid by planes. We were afraid. Having collected our documents, children, and dogs, we went to the dacha [traditional country house] 100 km from Kharkov.

The next day there was fighting on the outskirts of the city, and every day we saw and heard the shelling of our beautiful city. Our street was badly damaged. Four shells flew into our house, and our neighbours’ houses were destroyed and burned. We felt that this could not be happening to us, like a bad dream, but unfortunately, it was. We felt like our whole world collapsed, all our happy days ended, and anxious days came. We were confused, didn’t know what to do. We had lost our jobs, lost our peace and the kids were confused and very scared. After two weeks, we learned about the Homes for Ukraine programme and, with the help of our friends who live in England, we started looking for sponsors. To our delight, we found them!

My youngest son and I decided to leave immediately, because the situation was very difficult. We knew Russian forces could come any day now. Thus, on 20 March 2022 we became refugees and began our journey across Europe. I never imagined that something like this would happen to us. We gradually made our way across Europe to England and saw a lot of people on the move, refugees from Ukraine.

Finally, a month later, my son and I obtained a visa and arrived in Bristol. We were very warmly welcomed. Our sponsors, Jane and Steve Storey, were very welcoming. They provided me and my son with a small apartment and surrounded us with care and attention. There was financial and moral support. My son went to school, I got a job. Later, my eldest son arrived. And six months later, my husband and mother. I also managed to get my two dogs out of Ukraine as well.

The apartment that our sponsor had kindly provided us with came to an end, and we started looking for a home. By then I had become friends with British people, and they helped us find a home. With the help of Bristol City Council, the city authorities and its employees, we now all live together in a house. England has become a second home for us. We feel safe here, we like our neighbours. They are kind, sympathetic people who are always ready to help. I think Ukrainians and British people are very similar in lots of ways. The natural politeness of the English was surprising too, it is their way to always say “sorry”, even when it’s not their fault!

The support of the Mayor’s Office is very much felt. My mom is provided with medical care and medication. We are eternally grateful to everyone who helped us, we are grateful to God, we appreciate the help and support of the city authorities, the Mayor, and people like Larysa, our Support Worker from the Bristol City Council Refugee Resettlement Team who is always interested in our lives and help us to feel like we are welcome and can belong here.

During the time that we have lived here, I’ve managed to get a better job and my eldest son also works. My husband immediately got a job when he arrived, but after a while he was let go and is now looking for a new job. We really like this country, its people, and we want to integrate into society and to be useful. We try to remove barriers, so we are learning the language, its history, laws, customs, and rules. We are so very grateful to the people of Bristol, and the UK, and want to contribute positively and be a part of this society.

Find out more about how Bristol City Council is responding to the crisis in Ukraine and how you can help here: The resettlement of vulnerable refugees in Bristol

Update: Gaol Ferry Bridge

Councillor Don Alexander is pictured, smiling, with trees on College Green in the background.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Don
Alexander, Cabinet Member for Transport

Griffiths, our contractors, started a programme of extensive and urgent repairs to address structural issues with Gaol Ferry Bridge towards the end of August last year.

As the first major refurbishment works in the bridge’s 88-year history, it has been a complex process to plan as each stage of the repairs can only be finalised when the structure is fully revealed.

Now Griffiths are in a better position to see the scale of what repairs are needed. Having removed the decking and started the process of stripping off the paint and corrosion, they were on programme. Unfortunately it has become clear that the bridge is in a worse condition than we had thought.

After nearly a century, the steel work is especially degraded around the southern pier (tower). In some places, it has become paper thin. Without extensive repairs it could fail, as the pictures on this blog show. We cannot let that happen, and remain committed to restoring this ageing infrastructure.

The damage on Gaol Ferry Bridge is pictured. An Officer is seen highlighting how much the steel has degraded.

As we now expect the second northern pier to be in a similarly poor state, we have had to revisit the programme and may need to extend the works for an extra three months. This will mean the bridge would be temporarily closed for up to a year overall, provided no other structural issues are uncovered. I am sorry this is not better news. I know this will come as a blow to the thousands of people who use this popular foot and cycle bridge and to the nearby businesses, especially the traders at Wapping Wharf.

The restoration project was originally forecasted to cost in the region of £1 million. We feared this might increase if the bridge needed more repairs than originally expected, and we project that it may now cost around £1.5 million, which however is still within the budget that we had set aside for these vital works.

We are doing all we can to drive the project forward at pace, while ensuring safe working at height above the river. We are pleased to have agreed continued weekend working during sociable hours, as it will help keep the works on track.

The degraded steel of Gaol Ferry Bridge is pictured.

Although hugely disappointing, it’s important to keep sight of the fact that without these repairs Gaol Ferry Bridge was on course to being structurally unsound and would have had to close permanently. As a lightweight suspension bridge, it was not originally designed to carry quite the number of people who, up until its temporary closure, used it each day to cross between south Bristol and this part of Spike Island. After we have invested in fixing existing structures, I think it is only right that the city considers the need for another nearby foot and cycle bridge across the New Cut. As Bristol continues to grow, to 550,000 residents by the middle of this century, that would help better distribute the load and relieve the pressure on the 60 metre span of Gaol Ferry Bridge.

In the meantime, we will continue to make sure these essential works are completed in the shortest possible time, and people will need to carry on using the diversion routes across Vauxhall Bridge or Bedminster Bridges. We will continue to support Wapping Wharf traders, making sure they are promoted along the diversion routes as well as supporting them through promotional campaigns. We have previously directed the businesses to where they can find out about rates relief while the bridge is temporarily closed, and will carry on issuing fortnightly briefings about the works and answering any questions they might have.

You can find out more about Gaol Ferry Bridge and these essential works at

Gaol Ferry Bridge is pictured, showing the extent of damage to the bridge. The New Cut is pictured below the beams.

Providing a safe space for open water swimming in Bristol

Bristol's Harbour is pictured, with houses in the background and boats in the foreground. White text in the bottom left corner of the image reads: Harbour swimming pilot to launch in March. The Mayor of Bristol's logo can also be seen.

Open water swimming has become increasingly popular over recent years and we know there are many groups and individuals in Bristol who want the opportunity to enjoy it safely.

It can be hard to imagine when you’re faced with the thought of wading out into cold water but there are proven health benefits. Cold water swimming can boost your immune system, metabolism, and increase happiness- so why shouldn’t we give it a go? We have listened to people’s requests for a safe swimming space in our harbour and have been working with local and experienced partners to explore how we can make this a reality.

Bristol’s harbour is a working area in an integral part of the city. To make sure we can offer an area that is safe to swim there must be measures in place to ensure the health and safety of all harbour users. This means having an area of our harbour cordoned-off to create a course specifically for swimming which can be safely accessed. There will be lifeguards and safety boats to help to keep people using the swimming facility safe. Otherwise it remains unsafe to swim in the harbour or other waterways in Bristol, as we continue to highlight through safety campaigns and signage around the docks.

We have also been working with partners like Wessex Water to check the water quality and look at how we can put in place additional testing to ensure it is safe before allowing people into the water.  We have been drawing on the expertise of All Aboard, based alongside the Cottage, and Uswim, the open water swim specialists who also operate sites around the country, and are working with them and local partners towards an open water swim trial for Bristol’s harbour this spring.

After an initial test swim in March, our aim is to run one-hour public swim sessions on Saturday and Sunday mornings for five weeks starting on 29 April. The sessions will be available to pre-book online at a cost of £7 per person – this small charge allows us to have in place the necessary water safety provisions. In the meantime, stay out of the harbour and swim at one of our city’s many pools.

This trial will allow us to assess whether or not we can provide a designated open water swimming area that is safe and financially sustainable – this is pertinent given the current financial challenges faced by the council in general and the harbour in particular.

Throughout the pilot we will monitor costs, up-take, and any impact on our ability to maintain a safe environment throughout our harbour. The health and safety of all harbour users is our first priority and, along with other members of the Bristol Water Safety Partnership, our harbour staff work hard to prevent accidents and maintain a safe waterway so that people can enjoy all our harbour has to offer. This cannot be compromised.

World Encephalitis Day 2023

Mark Wiltshire, smiling, with trees and plants behind him.
Today’s guest blog is from Mark Wiltshire, Encephalitis Society

My name is Mark Wiltshire and back in 2004, when I was 17 years old, I was affected by Viral Encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain caused by a viral infection. When I woke in hospital after suffering a suspected seizure caused by the inflammation, I had lost over two years’ worth of memories. This included a once in a lifetime trip to Thailand and Japan when I was luckily enough to be selected as part of the UK contingency for the world Scout Jamboree.

Nearly 20 years on I am still suffering from the side effects of the virus, namely memory issues and severe mental fatigue. I manage this by being physically fit and playing rugby for a local club, and with my passion of photography. This new passion not only helps me relax and switch off from the world, giving my mind time to reset and recover, but also aids in giving me reminders of places I have visited.

World Encephalitis Day, on Wednesday the 22nd of February, is the global awareness day for people who have been directly or indirectly affected by encephalitis. In 2021 over 150 famous places across the world, including Niagara Falls, the Melbourne Wheel, and Tower 42 in London to go Red4Wed. With the help of Bristol City Council lighting City Hall red, we hope to continue this success and increase awareness this year.

Since its launch ten years ago, World Encephalitis Day has reached over 295 million people through media features, events and social media. It is our hope that it will play a leading role in our mission to increase global awareness of encephalitis and therefore saving lives and building better futures.

World Encephalitis Day's poster has a red background on the left and a photo of brain on the right. Text on the left reads: 77% of people worldwide do not know what encephalitis is. Here are five facts about this often devastating neurological condition for World Encephalitis Day on 22nd February.  On the right text explains five facts about Encephalitis: 1. Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain 2. It is caused by an infection or through the immune system attacking the brain 3. It can have a high death rate and survivors might be left with an acquired brain injury and life-changing consequences 4. Early diagnosis and treatment can save lives and improve outcomes 5. In some cases, encephalitis can impact mental health, causing difficult to deal with emotions and behaviours, and can lead to thoughts of self-harm and even suicide

Five facts about encephalitis:

1. Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain

2. It is caused by an infection or through the immune system attacking the brain

3. It can have a high death rate and survivors might be left with an acquired brain injury and life-changing consequences

4. Early diagnosis and treatment can save lives and improve outcomes

5. In some cases, encephalitis can impact mental health, causing difficult to deal with emotions and behaviours, and can lead to thoughts of self-harm and even suicide 

For more in formation see:

Tonight Bristol City Hall, M-Shed and Clarke Willmott’s Bristol Office by Castle Park will be lit up red in support.

Building a better Bristol for everyone

People gather at College Green's flag poles to raise the GRT flag on 1 June. The GRT flag is a red wheel on a background split between blue (top) and green (bottom).
The GRT flag being raised outside of Bristol City Hall on 1 June 2022.

Bristol built 2,563 new homes last year – exceeding our ambitious targets. The housing crisis affects everyone, and we’re determined to keep building a city where everyone has a safe place to call home.

Our population grew by 10% in the last decade, so we need to build more homes in every community, including our Gypsy Roma Traveller community. So, cabinet recently invested in a new site with six to eight permanent pitches. This will add to existing sites in Ashton Vale and Lawrence Weston/Avonmouth, which opened in the early 2000s, and one in Bedminster which has been operating since the late 19th century. These are, it’s worth clarifying, different to the meanwhile sites for vehicle dwellers set up relatively recently.

Feedback from the housing provider who manages another of our permanent sites, is that the proposed site is “perfect” for the job. But our wider, longer-term approach will go beyond utilising one vacant site in Hengrove. We will be looking at applying to a new £10 million Traveller Site Fund announced by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities and looking at other potential sites around our city.

This proposal fits with our wider commitment to reflect the contribution of the traveller community to our city, and reaffirm their rights. Its initial reception has, though, sadly shown that some people still see racism directed towards our GRT community as the ‘last acceptable form’. It’s not, and it’s right to challenge such attitudes whenever we encounter them. After all, such discrimination has fed into 91% of gypsies and travellers having experienced discrimination in the UK.

We are committed to supporting a community disproportionately affected by ill health, infant mortality, imprisonment, child poverty, domestic abuse, illiteracy, mental health issues, and suicide. And, as well as reducing isolation, we are also determined to tell more about their contribution to our city, both historically and in the present day.

Bristol has been home to the Gypsy and Roma Traveller community for more than six centuries. Irish travellers were among the workers that helped build Broadmead, many of our city’s high rises, and industrial areas. Last summer we raised the GRT flag outside City Hall for GRT History Month and plan to do the same again this June. Ian Bowen, the Council’s GRT Service Coordinator, wrote a brilliant blog to mark the occasion last year.

As we have noted more widely, such stories too often go forgotten or, worse, go deliberately untold. That’s at the heart of why we set up the History Commission. Not to talk about one statue, but to help highlight the fullness of an entire city’s story: across race, class, and gender; remembering workers, Chartists, and suffragettes; and teaching current and future generations about how war, poverty, and slavery are dyed into the fabric of Bristol. All of these people’s lives are part of why our city is how it is today.

We Are Bristol – and that includes our Gypsy and Roma Traveller community.