A version of this article was published in Bristol 24/7 on 11 June. Thanks to Martin Booth and the team for the opportunity to provide some thoughts on an extraordinary week for a city we are proud to be part of.
I’m not from Bristol but have grown to love it over the decade I’ve worked here. I love the city for its creativity, positive outlook and for how it does things its own way, rightly or wrongly.
Bristol’s idiosyncratic streak is part of what makes it such a special place, for all its foibles. Its failure to adequately address questions over its history with regards to figures like Edward Colston sit uneasily with its image as a diverse, multicultural city.
This uneasiness collided with direct action on Sunday, when Colston’s statue was toppled from its plinth and dumped in the Floating Harbour, where it’s remained until it was retrieved on Thursday.
I know from my work for the government and with other organisations in the city that reflecting Bristol’s past in the ‘here and now’ has been discussed over many years. After all that talking, Bristol has demonstrated that actions will speak louder than words.
Continue reading “Bristol shows actions speak louder than words”
This article was published in PR Week on 9 June. Thanks to them for giving me the opportunity to provide some thoughts from the perspective of a Bristol-based business.
Recent anti-racism protests across the world illustrate that, while language matters, action changes things.
Sunday’s dramatic events in Bristol, where debates about 17th century slave trader and former MP Edward Colston have simmered for many years, are a case in point.
Discussions about how a man with shared responsibility for transporting tens of thousands of Africans to British colonies is reflected in Bristol’s history were swept aside by protesters. It highlighted a sense that the time for talking (and getting nowhere) is over. In reality, as the debate goes global, the local conversation may be about to get going again.
Continue reading “Toppling Colston’s statue could be an iconic moment for Bristol”
Promoting the ‘value’ of development has been a standard approach for major projects for many years.
Statistics about investment, jobs and training opportunities are often used to generate headlines and online buzz.
After supporting projects for more than 15 years, I’ve seen how this can influence opinions towards a project when presented well. When set out using technical terms like ‘Gross Value Added (GVA) per capita’, it misses the mark, however.
But I’m getting the sense that its impact is on the wane, in the face of rising scepticism and changing views around what ‘value’ means.
Continue reading “Why social value must be at the heart of our places”
As things return to normal after Christmas, I’ve thought a lot about what 2020 will be like for myself and those close to me.
It’s my 45th year, which makes me officially middle aged and will soon see me enter a different age drop down category in online surveys. It’s a big one for me personally and professionally. I feel grateful to start it in good health, with a happy family and a brilliant role as director at Social’s South West office.
The last decade has brought huge changes – political, social, technological – which confounded many predictions and upended the status quo. We started it as a family in Manchester before moving to the South West in 2010 and making a new life here. Through all of that, the most important and constant factor for me was the people: family, friends and colleagues, some of whom I worked with in 2010. They helped make 2019 a year to remember.
Continue reading “Focusing on what matters (and avoiding what doesn’t) in 2020”
Our youth workers have been aware of the issues surrounding holiday hunger for a long time, but we have noticed that the problem has worsened in recent years. When many of our children struggle to get enough food during term, it’s clear to us that the problem will be worse during the holidays.
“That is why this campaign is so important to us, and the city of Bristol. We hope as many businesses as possible help us to tackle this crisis and stop thousands of children and young people going without meals this summer.” Matt Donnelly, Young Bristol.
A couple of months ago, we started working with a Bristol charity who were set on tackling a crisis affecting huge numbers of families across the city.
Feeding Bristol was set up a couple of years ago to respond to the urgent need to help thousands (yes, thousands) of the city’s schoolchildren avoid long periods without a meal.
Many people are aware of the growth in food banks in recent years and have heard of tough choices some parents face over whether to feed their children or heat the house. But I was unaware of the extent of the challenge facing the city until I met the charity in May to discuss its campaign.
Continue reading “Why we’re supporting efforts to tackle ‘holiday hunger’ (and why you should too)”
The West of England’s devolution deal was rubber stamped last night after months of discussion by local leaders.
The agreement unlocks around £1bn in investment in housing, transport and skills. Most people would regard these as important issues that should be locally controlled.
Despite this and the welcome statements that will follow, last night’s response to the news seemed muted.
Councillors in Bristol expressed concerns that the 2,000 responses the recent consultation generated should have been much higher.
The Bristol Post reported these concerns alongside the question: does anyone care?
Continue reading “Devolution: people care if they’re aware”