Social Impact / Better Bristol

Better Bristol: We’ve been listening. What now?

By hannah cornford, Saturday Oct 13, 2018

There are loads of great things going on in this city. The people, food, culture, community and creativity are just some of the aspects you’ve told us makes Bristol great.

However, remove the rose-tinted glasses and it becomes clear that there’s so much that can be done to make it better. Over the past couple of months we’ve been asking what you think could be done to make a Better Bristol, and it has become clear that housing and homelessness, mental health services and the environment are all areas you are passionate about improving.

More than 80 per cent of the 438 people who took one of our online surveys said that they wanted Bristol24/7 to do more to tackle these issues, but an almost equal amount had no idea about the social projects we are already running.

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You told us the steps you thought we could all take to improve Bristol, and the steps you’re personally taking to improve specific issues. Here are just a few of the things you told us:

Better Bristol feedback

“Create more community assets in the city, community owned social housing, co-working spaces and late-night venues. Don’t let it be lost to apartment blocks that are too expensive.”

“Develop affordable housing for the young and those who cannot afford private renting prices.”

“Encourage whole communities to look after the space they live in. There are lots of free workshops available to support this.”

“Partner with local businesses to address issues and encourage more understanding around them. Encourage food outlets to donate extra products to homeless charities, for example.”

“Look at the causes of things: gentrification is separating people and creating distance which can be the cause of loneliness and isolation.”

“Prioritise housing for those most in need on the streets and reclaim empty to-let offices for emergency shelter in the winter months.”

“Develop more mental health awareness in schools primary and secondary schools, with more information and support directly targeted at young people.”

“Get communities to clean up their community spaces and create a space that they would like to see.”

“Bristol’s educational landscape is changing but we need to do something to ensure there is more integration and that people from all backgrounds get the opportunities of the few. More engagement between employers and education providers and communities will help with this.”

“Stop cutting mental health support services, address addiction problems and create more temporary shelters and transitional accommodation.”

“Be radical and pedestrianise more roads and most of city centre. Improve public transport (not Metrobus!), create more open spaces and encourage cross-community activity and sharing.”

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We’re not the first to strike up a conversation about how to improve Bristol. If you want to improve something you must change it, and change isn’t always popular. By putting social impact at the heart of our organisation we are taking on a new sense of responsibility to create changes that will genuinely make life better for everyone who lives here.

Here’s how we plan to do it.

Invest in the people of Bristol

We will do this by creating projects that have a direct impact on people’s lives.

Bristol isn’t always great at working together. We will be looking for new ways to connect people and businesses in Bristol to highlight the areas where more needs to be done and make this happen. We have begun to do this for young people by teaming up with the Square Food Foundation, based at The Park in Knowle, to teach young people skills in the kitchen that allow them to get qualified and find a job in the future.

This project launched in 2017. The young people who got involved had little or no experience in the kitchen but went on to design a menu for our Autumn Feast and cook for more than 200 people. Following the success of that pilot project it has developed into How To Be A Chef, a much bigger, 12 week course which has been running twice a year.  This course gives the young chefs training two days a week at the Square Food kitchen and one day per week out and about on placements in professional kitchens, many provided by our Better Business members. At the end of the course the graduates leave with a B-Tech and invaluable experience in a professional environment. Many of these graduates have gone on to pursue careers in the food industry.

We’ve also had many amazing success stories from our work experience programme, such as Meena. She joined us for a week placement and went on to become our full-time editorial assistant. She is now working at The Times.

We have expanded on the success of How To Be A Chef and have launched a pilot course for young filmmakers with boomsatsuma and funded by Quartet Community Foundation, called Stories from the City. This will give young people the opportunity to make their own films while being mentored by some of Bristol’s leading filmmakers, with the aim of screening the shorts at one of Bristol’s leading film festivals as well as in a number of the city’s independent cinemas.

During the Covid-19 crisis the support from our Better Business members and key partners has allowed us to recruit community reporters, producing hyper-local news from some of Bristol’s most deprived wards, uncovering stories that mainstream media outlets might otherwise miss.

We’re looking at new ways of continuing our vocational training after the effects of Covid-19 and hope to be able to revive a collaboration with Better Business member Develop Me on a course to give young people extensive training in coding and create opportunities for them to break into the tech and innovation industry.

These projects have been focused around creating opportunities for young people, but we will be looking to expand this based on the feedback we get.

Inspire communities and celebrate diversity

We will do this by telling stories and amplifying the voices of marginalised groups.

Stories can highlight issues and inspire people to create change. Storytelling is how we better understand each other, find common ground and celebrate diversity.

This has been the aim behind our Talking LGBT+ film, a 30 minute documentary funded by Heritage Lottery Fund that has been screened across Bristol. The engagement across our own channels was incredible with nearly a million impressions on our #LGBT247 hashtag. The film will now be used as a teaching resource in local schools, colleges and universities.

We will continue to use our platform to tell these stories and create tools that are useful for communities to raise awareness, inform and educate.

Include everyone

We will do this by creating opportunities for everyone to get involved and share their views.

As the leading independent media publication in the South West, we are often there when big decisions are being made. Some people have told us they feel left out of these decisions so we want to address this by including everyone in our plans and giving everyone a stake in what happens next.

Our Voices24/7 film project was the beginning of this approach, as we met and interviewed a range of people across Bristol and shared their stories.

However, not everyone wants to get involved in the same way. Some will fill in a survey or comment online; others will come to an event or be part of a project. We are in the process of planning a series of events that will take place across Bristol, giving even more people the opportunity to get involved in the Better Bristol process and begin to use the learning from it in local communities across the city.

Be independent

We will do this by writing for one audience: the people of Bristol.

You told us that the fact we are independent is what matters most to you about Bristol24/7. We are a community interest company, meaning we are owned by the community and any revenue we make is reinvested into the community. We’re proud that Bristol24/7 journalists are independent voices who do not act on behalf of special interests whether political, corporate or cultural.

Have integrity

We will do this by being honest in everything we do.

Editorial integrity is central to all that Bristol24/7 journalists do. Integrity gives us the authority to investigate issues, shine a light in dark places and to dig where others don’t.

What can you do?

As we evolve we need your help. By becoming a Supporter Member of Bristol24/7 you can help to support this work and help shape a Better Bristol.

Find out more about becoming a member

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