News / Society

Bristol’s 25 Happiness Champions 2017

By bristol247, Tuesday Jan 3, 2017

25 new Bristol Happiness Champions have been named for making the city a happier place to live, work and flourish in 2017.

“We find them inspiring,” says Mike Zeidler of Happy City, who have now published four annual Happy Lists.

“Not because they’ve done high profile or spectacular things, but quite the opposite. Most of them much prefer to avoid centre-stage so they can quietly get on and be helpful.”

There are no winners in this list, which is in alphabetical order because according to Zeidler, “each and every person deserves credit for increasing the happiness of others in Bristol, and they all do it in different ways.  The overall effect is to make Bristol’s communities better adjusted places.”

Here are this year’s Bristol Happiness Champions, with Zeidler’s reasons for each nomination:

Neil is the most helpful person on the helpfulpeeps website, having accumulated the highest ‘karma score’ for all the little acts of kindness he’s performed.  He finds lots of ways to encourage people to be genuine and caring, which he sees as a simple way of actively resisting the selfishness promoted all around us.

Hamish won a ‘Community Hero’ Gold Star award from the Bristol Post for taking his own initiative to help rough sleepers this year. He started buying sandwiches with his own pocket money, then shaved his head to raise more money. His kind-hearted actions deservedly won national recognition.

Helen is a freelance community development worker who’s passionate about collaboration and community led solutions. She runs Vivid Regeneration to help people work out how to make the changes they want to see in their area a reality for the benefit of all. She’s made a big difference to people’s lives in Bristol’s Inner City, Lawrence Weston and in Southmead as well as being a governor at St Mary Redcliffe Primary School.

Daryn is a champion for equality and diversity who’s efforts over 10 years were recognised with a Lord Mayor’s Medal this year. By encouraging people in all walks of life to be more affirmative, to act with dignity and be more accepting of one another, he’s clearly improving conditions for happiness to flourish.

Antony has a great passion for running and for social enterprise.  He’s encouraged lots of people to get more exercise through ‘social running’ and gives tremendous support to those (including Happy City) who need a better financial footing to serve society well.  Money CAN increase happiness as long as it’s not the goal!

Juliet set up Easton Jubilee Trust to educate train & support new arrivals from around the world. Her enthusiasm for helping people settle in to Easton attracted lots of support, paying great dividends in education and community for young, old and volunteers alike. Sadly the charity closed this summer, but not before making an indelible mark on those who now feel they can thrive and contribute to wider society.

Ahmed is the main driver behind the Samadoon Foundation, which aims to enhance social cohesion in Somalia.  He persuaded a former president of Somalia and a former Mayor of Mogadishu to visit Bristol, bringing people together for constructive political engagement with local issues of better health, education and reconciliation.

Simon co-founded Helpfulpeeps to create a “money-free economy”, based on the karma of being helpful.  His simple mantra is ‘ask for help whenever you want, and help others whenever you can’.  Happiness becomes more tangible when you can see it like this – that’s Happy List gold!

Tony has spent years helping improve the lives of adults with learning disabilities. Through the Misfits Theatre company he creates opportunities for these beautiful people to have valued roles in society. They gain a voice, space to be creative, have fun and teach others about their potential. It’s a double-decker tour bus of happiness.

Torkwase greets every day with a hopeful heart, looks for the best in others and is quick to encourage people to value themselves.  Besides helping a cancer charity and working to promote blood and organ donations for the NHS, she puts time and care into her local community and the African & Caribbean community in countless small personal ways.

Ewan’s inspiring partnership with George Monbiot set out to raise awareness of the problems of loneliness – he’s made a real difference to people who attend the gigs, changing the way people think about connecting in communities. The effect of his efforts has made people reach out to others in need.

Saf co-founded Helpfulpeeps in 2014 because ‘life is better when we help each other’. Leaving his sales job behind, Saf now dedicates all his efforts to connecting people who want help with those willing to give it free of charge. Around 400 people visit his site every day – that’s a lot of happiness in the making.

Lucy created the Window Wanderland, a project which brings people together by transforming neighbourhoods into outdoor art galleries.  Her simple invitation to turn a front window into an art installation has a magical effect. It’s a joyful event which inspires creativity, friendship and better connections. Genius!

Christina has been helping people in communities all over Bristol for more than 35 years. She’s helped raise over £3.5m  for good causes in that time, raised awareness and supported projects for everything from addiction, domestic abuse and women sex workers to new ways to tackle Cancer, the Bristol Happiness Lectures and BCfm community radio. She’s a happiness dynamo!

Zoe is cited as a great connector, protector and networker of professional women. Through an informal ‘supper club’, Zoe encourages people to do their best, helping them help each other to thrive personally and professionally. Tangible projects like the At-Bristol/KWMC ‘Tinkering Space’ are part of the happiness ripple effect they have.  Zoe also supports Spike Island, City to Sea and the Old Vic in her spare time.

Jean definitely goes the extra mile!  Leading the Nilaari Agency, her dedication to supporting people from the BME community who battle with mental health issues and drug addiction is inspirational to all who know her.  She’s been an effective voice for the marginalised for at least 17 years and fully deserves her happiness champion status.

Charlie’s best known as sustainability champion, but quietly behind the scenes, she’s also always busily raising money for charity, giving young people a leg up in work and encouraging others to get stuck in and make a difference. It’s under-the-radar happiness that reaches the parts others often fail to reach.

Verity was nominated for ‘giving back the smiles to broken-hearted people’ through her work at the Borderlands drop in centre for asylum seekers and refugees. She goes well beyond the call of duty in her constant kindnesses to all those around her.  She definitely improves health and happiness in our society.

Lil, now in her 100th year, has given decades of her life to making things better in Easton. With her husband, she set up an older people ‘s group in Easton called the Evergreens in the 1980s. She helped raise the funding for the new Easton community centre and has worked tirelessly ever since on all the practical things that need doing for the group.  She’s amazing!

Hannah is an event producer who’s dedicated to helping people discover more about this fantastic city to promote a shared sense of active community. Her genuine excitement about all the things she’s involved in is infectious. Currently she’s running: Bristol Cycle Festival 2017; Trash & Treasure Dating; A Night in the Woods; Hello Darkness; Dance Dance Party Party; and One Good Turn. There’s joy in the way she spreads local happiness.

Kris works to end animal cruelty with Bristol Charity Viva! and with ‘Engaging Minds’ to help young people get to grips with their mental health. On top of that, he gives spare time to manage a volunteer rota of sandwich collections from Pret a Manger. They bring food for homeless people at St Mungos Homeless Shelter and The Big Issue – generating a lot of happiness.

Sara was a BBC Food Hero finalist this year for her amazing skill in promoting community gardening through Incredible Edible. Her passion for sharing growing, cooking, preserving and foraging skills is infectious, improving community resilience and transforming ‘lost and unloved spaces’ into beautiful and productive ones.

Sue does a huge amount to increase happiness in Hartcliffe and Withywood. Her involvement in Food for All, The Amblers, The People’s Kitchen and The Roundhouse are just some of the many ways she’s helped improve health, well-being and quality of life in the area for years.

Sheila won the Bristol Post’s Gold Star Award for volunteering, having spent 30 years helping out at St Peter’s Hospice charity shops in Kingswood.  She’s played an important part in bringing comfort to countless people over the years, including the friends and family of those battling their illnesses.

Kalpna brings Bristol’s different communities together to share food and improve inter-cultural understanding whilst learning about health, wellbeing and sustainability. The 91 Ways project with its pop-up Peace Cafe brings a rich diversity of happiness wisdom together for us all.


Read more: Bristol in top 10 world cities to visit in 2017

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