Natasha Broad: City Fellows Progress Report January 2021


The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic continues to create challenges and opportunities in youth work. Over the past few months, a variety of factors have impacted young people significantly – including changes and restrictions at school, cancelled exams, and school closures. Combined with a general sense of fatigue around the ongoing restrictions, meaningful engagement can be difficult. For LGBTQ+ young people there may be other contributing factors, including hostile home environments.

There have been some significant social and political decisions affecting LGBTQ+ young people recently, most significantly the recent High Court ruling which affects access to puberty blockers for trans, non-binary and gender diverse young people. Media coverage surrounding this issue, amongst others, means that some LGBTQ+ people are facing social hostility in a variety of ways.

Ongoing City Fellows Work

During this time period, I have been invited and contributed to several discussions at Bristol City Council – some directly involving young people, and some with stakeholders.

In August, the City Office held a webinar for the public, exploring Bristol’s economic recovery from Covid-19. The webinar was a panel discussion with young people across the city, and I was able to recruit and support an LGBTQ+ young person to take part in the discussion. Issues including public transport, climate change, barriers to service access, and mental health were discussed. The Freedom member that took part was the youngest panellist. The webinar led to some discussions with the City Office around engagement and participation, and the webinar was well received by the public.

I have contributed to discussions with the BCC comms team around a marketing campaign aimed at young people around the Covid-19 restrictions. I was able to gather some information from LGBTQ+ young people about their thoughts about Bristol’s response to the pandemic, and the messaging that they had seen or heard in relation to young people, and raised this at the meeting in contribution to plans for the campaign. There were plans to approach local celebrities and community leaders to record messages targeting specific groups of young people.

I was invited, along with Ben Carpenter of Grassroots Communities, to support with the development of the Children and Young People’s Board as part of the One City Plan. After some initial promising meetings, plans have changed quite significantly and Ben and I are yet to understand fully what our input might be to the development of the board and, most significantly, to the engagement and participation of young people within this.  We are optimistic that we will be able to support the development of the Board to be make significant strategic change in the remaining months of the Fellowship.

In November, I hosted an intergenerational conversation about HIV to mark World AIDS Day on December 1st. ‘HIV through a generation’ brought together young people from Freedom Youth with service users and volunteers from the Brigstowe Project, a local service that offers information, advice and support to those living with or affected by HIV. The conversation explored health inequalities, HIV awareness and education, and stigma and discrimination, and looked at both the parallels and the differences of experiences of living through a pandemic – both the current Covid-19 pandemic, and the HIV epidemic. The importance of accessible, accurate and inclusive HIV education was emphasised, and there are several ongoing conversations about how this can be included in the PSHE guidance and training moving forward.

Next Steps

The work to support the Children and Young People’s Board is ongoing, with an initial meeting of the board due to take place in February. Whilst it remains to be seen what the involvement of the City Fellows will be, I am hopeful that there will be ways that we can influence and impact the Board to ensure that there is meaningful engagement and participation from young people.

I am keen to further explore intergenerational conversations, specifically between younger and older LGBTQ+ people, although I think there is scope and potential to extend this further. Thoughts and ideas around hidden histories and the importance of sharing stories and experiences remain important, and the opportunity to engage with and learn from other members of our community feels particularly important during this time of isolation and physical separation. This project idea will be something that I look to explore and expand on during the remaining months of the City Fellowship – recognising that the One City plan, for example, is about the future of our city, and the current young people will be the leaders and changemakers of the future.

The appointment of the creative fellow will provide an exciting opportunity for engagement and to create meaningful change. I look forward to collaborating with Angie to develop something that will enable us to share our experiences and increase the representation and recognition of the communities and people that we work with.


Ben Carpenter: January 2021 Progress Report

Ben Carpenter – Grassroot Communities 

City Fellow of University of Bristol 

About me: 

come from humble beginnings and grew up in a single parent household and home life involved equal measures of love, fun and chaos in the shape of addiction, violence and mental health problems within the family.  

I didn’t engage well at school and moved out of home with friends at 17 and in my early 20’s mum passed away from cancer. This was my catalyst for change.  

I went travelling for a year that turned into 3 years, being in the right place, at the right time resulted in sailing half way around the world as crew on many yachts.  

This experience allowed much time to reflect, to grow in confidence and come home with a clear goal to become a Youth and Community Worker.  

I’m now a degree qualified youth and community worker with over 14 years practical experience of working across South, Central and East Bristol.  

Work we do: 

In 2017 I founded Grassroot Communities and it is now an established organisation which operates primarily but not exclusively in South Bristol and is in the process of becoming a Charitable Incorporated Organisation. It is guided by the professional principles and practices of youth and community work and influenced by the positive impact of nature, to deliver a wide variety of innovative school, youth and community led projects in communities on the margins of the city. We engage, challenge and inspire young people and others in their neighbourhoods to be the changes they want to see, improving quality of life and creating real social change.  

The following community led project models give you a flavour of the work we facilitate in South Bristol and beyond. 

  • COMMUNITY CHAMPIONS Learning new skills, resilience and inspiring the next generation of leaders and positive role models through social action 
  • GRASSROOT ADVENTURES Inspiring young people causing anti-social behaviour in their community to become positive role models  
  • MENTORING Supporting young people/ adults at the edge of care and custody, and involved in serious and violent crime in South Bristol. I am BCC Safer Options team South Bristol Community Consultant 
  • DETACHED YOUTHWORKoperating across South Bristol without the use of a building or activity and taking place where young people “are at” both geographically and developmentally. We deliver informal and social education 
  • GROWING STREETS TOGETHER Engaging all ages of local people through positive activities, supporting them to plan and deliver a show stopping street party  
  • POWERED BY NATURE supporting and inspiring Bristol schools, youth groups and communities to reconnect with the power of nature 
  • RECONNECT Improving relationships between carer and child through activities and adventure in nature 
  • RIDERS OF THE STORM Inspiring young people suffering from mental health to start their own self-help group. Utilising discussion, practical and creative ideas and activities in nature culminating in learning to surf!  

How we do it:  

When you boil it down, all these projects are based on connection, relationships and opportunities. We always meet and consult local people of all ages where they are, listening and then acting (and reflecting). The community led projectcreate a safe, welcoming and fun environment, participants feel more open to sharing experiences, telling their stories and learning from each other as well as then shaping projects based on their individual and collective wants and needs.   

City Fellows – Next steps: 

  • Attend training, visit projects (when allowed) and continue to develop, fund and start delivering the Grassroot Activator Programme (GAP). More details below. 
  • Support the Social Justice Project to making a meaning difference to communities in the margins of Bristol. 
  • Collaboratively develop an artistic response to the current times and wants and needs of the communities whom we serve with the City Fellows and new Creative Fellow. 
  • Continue to fund and deliver innovative youth and community led projects that support them to create real social change. We have just funded a couple of beauties, watch this space! 


Grassroot Activators Programme (GAP): 

Since recently being made a City Fellow by University of Bristol for their School of Education, I have been able to develop the trailblazing yearlong GAPGrassroot Communities mentioned project models act as engagement tools, interventionsand opportunities and provided a platform to consult and inform the many modules included in GAP.  

GAP will develop pathways for young people to believe in themselves, learning valuable life skills that support them to thrive, not just survive and grow in confidence so they are ready to grasp future opportunities in both hands.  

Learning from the varied GAP modules, alongside developing meaningful relationships with a diverse group of mentors will help identify and co-create individualised stepping stones needed for each young person to work towards fulfilling their future ambitions in volunteering, apprenticeships, employment, education and ultimately quality of life.   

GAP importantly provides a solid foundation of skills and practical experiences to support a localised solution to the widening skills gap within youth and community work and volunteers.  

GAP will not only impact on the core young people involved, but will cascade its positive impact wider across all ages of marginalised communities following the many practical community social action, enterprise and environmental projects. 

These opportunities will have a further ripple effect in communities and turn people onto what is possible when people come together for the common good. 

Supporting young people from marginalised communities to engage, reconnect and fall in love with nature will mean they will be more likely to look after the planet in the future and be inspired to explore working in the predicted future green economy.  

GAP widens the aperture of possibilities for young people and the wider communities of Bristol living in the margins and in poverty. Framing realistic opportunities, creating role models, raising aspirations and developing our diverse community leaders of tomorrow. 

Connecting young people with communities, cross pollinating cultures, beliefs and backgrounds and celebrating the differences and similarities across the city will positively impact on community cohesion, tolerance, wellbeing and quality of life for all.  

If you can support Grassroot Communities in any way and particularly help with funding our fully developed and life changing GAP opportunity please get in touch. Change is coming and it’s from the grassroots and up. 



Social media channels is as follows:  

Facebook @Grassroot Communities 

Instagram @grassrootcommunities 

Twitter @Grassroot_Comm 

YouTube @Grassroot Communities 


Anya Mulcahy-Bowman: City Fellowship Report. January 2021


The purpose of my City Fellow project is to share the learning and development of BOOST Finance, which, at its heart, is about delivering services differently, that puts the community in the driving seat and works on the principles of providing access to information, ensuring the information is understood and that individuals understand what action to take and are supported to take this action to move to a place of being able to take independent action. The Community Development principle is also about progressing these ideas forwards and looking at empowering local people to take control both as individuals and as collectives, exploring potential solutions on common issues and themes. The BOOST model demonstrates a genuine willingness by several organisations to share resources and work towards developing a common purpose and empowering communities to take action. 

During this period and in addition to Bristol City Councils Impact fund, BOOST Finance Project has successfully been awarded additional monies from the C-19 Community Led Organisations Recovery Scheme to enable it to operate in a COVID19 safe way. BOOST Finance reconvened services at the end of October following assessments of how to facilitate the service and operate in a COVID19 safe way. With this additional funding we have been able to switch the service from a two morning a week drop-in to a five morning a week 1:1 managed appointment system. This additional funding has also enabled us to employ a Service Coordinator (a great progression route for one of our BOOST Volunteers) and Volunteer Trainer (in partnership with Talking Money) to pilot a volunteer training program to begin to develop learning and expertise being in the community and not just based on site. We have successfully recruited 6 volunteers and are continuing our recruitment drive. We have also widened our partnership, adding legal support services provided by Bristol Universities Law Clinic and Housing support provided by CHAS. We have also set up and begun running a membership-based Food Club in partnership with Family Action and FareShare. This service now has 56 members.  

The BOOST Finance partnership now incorporates: 

  • Wellspring Settlement 
  • Community Volunteers  
  • Bristol Somali Resource Centre 
  • Talking Money 
  • BRAVE 
  • CHAS 
  • University of Bristol Law Clinic 
  • Family Action 
  • FareShare 
  • Bristol Credit Union 
  • West Of England Works Partner 

Also, during this period we have drafted two papers outlining identified community issues and potential solutions. These papers have been forward to two boards to further influence potential informed approaches: 

  1. In collaboration with Nick Sturge and Morag McDermot, we have compiled a paper Recovering from Coronavirus – tackling unemployment a joined-up approach that has gone to Bristol City Councils Economy Board that identifies gaps in effective working in Bristol’s economy around the gap in connectivity between decision making at city / region level and the reality of what is happening, variously, in specific communities; and the gap between employment opportunities, however well enabled and curated to be accessible, and people, who could work but have too many challenges to overcome to get there. The paper proposes a practical mechanism to help bridge both those gaps at the hyper-local level, and which aims to build trust and understanding across those gaps which aids systemic change and a model which can be adapted and applied (rather than ‘cookie-cut’) in other communities. 
  2. A second paper, ‘Recovering from Coronavirus – tackling poverty’, highlighting the likely longterm impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, impacts that are already being felt and likely to continue to be felt for the next decade in some of the most disadvantage parts of our city and looking at new ways of meeting the need that was already high. This report promoted new and different solutions in light of a year of learning and not just the same solutions expecting different result. This promoted the ideas of BOOST Finance as a model and supporting community initiatives at a grass root level, in recognition of geographical and demographical difference. This paper has gone to ACFA championing an anti-poverty approach for Bristol based on community knowledge and expertise and building back better.  

In partnership with the Personal Finance Research Centre as part of a strategic funding application we are in the process of setting up a Community Employment Research pilot aimed at reasserting missing community voices into the narrative of building back better and supporting communities set their own agendas for change based on localised ideas and community experience of direct impact.    

Helen Manchester: City Fellowship Report. January 2021

City Decision Making 

My focus and interest in the fellowship is particularly around the methods, practices and approaches we might adopt in order to enable communities at the margins to contribute to city decision making.  

Our work with the City Office was delayed as they were pulled into the Council’s response to the COVID pandemic however we have now established a way of working alongside three of the City Boards to support them to engage with communities at the margins as they work to embody the One City Approach. Myself and Lucie Martin-Jones are working with the Health and Wellbeing board to explore broader engagement with the board in relation to the voices of communities at the margins in the city. We have joined Health and wellbeing board meetings to observe and participate in their discussions. We have worked alongside the officer for the board – Mark Allen- to plan a stakeholder engagement event and to develop an idea around a working group exploring wider engagement in the health and wellbeing board activities. Our focus here is on gathering a group of ‘allies’ with whom we can work to influence how the voices of communities at the margins can be included more centrally in decisions made by the board. 

In addition, Lucie and I were asked to sit on the Advisory Board for the Citizens Assemblies which Bristol City Council are running in January and February 2021, in collaboration with ‘Involve’. The first weekend has already taken place. The focus of the assembly draws on a survey which asked about the city’s recovery for all in Bristol. The assembly members will hear about and discuss how COVID-19 has affected Bristol, and then make recommendations on what should happen and how things should change. Three areas were selected, based on the survey, to discuss in more depth. These ‘matters of concern’ are broadly: climate change, health inequalities and transport. Particular issues focus on a) retro-fitting homes to decrease emissions b) health inequalities c) transport with a focus on neighbourhoods. 60 randomly selected people from across Bristol are taking part in three weekend activities – selections were done by the Sortition society and provide a good representation of all communities across Bristol with a slight bias towards participation of those who are experiencing the greatest inequalities. Advisory group members were asked to feed in related to questions of inclusion and participation in the events, suggested speakers and particular issues that might arise. We were also invited along to the Citizens Assemblies. I have been in conversation with the organisers of the event and am hoping to do some research around the findings from their evaluation and based on the notes I am taking in the assembly events I have been able to observe. This data will be fascinating insight into a process of deliberative democracy with a focus on questions of inequality and inclusion. Questions of digital inclusion have been particularly interesting as the events are happening fully online. 

Taken together I feel that these activities are enabling the fellows to ask critical questions of the methods of consultation and approaches to hearing the voices of communities at the margins and enabling us to make suggestions about how this might be otherwise. This is a long term project and together the fellows have discussed our ‘fellowships’ with the city as going beyond the time of the initial funding – we hope to continue to engage with the city to encourage a move from ‘consultation’ which often involves completing online surveys to a focus on ‘participation’ and ‘engagement’ in city decision making for those who have previously felt their voices have not been heard. We know this is not something that will change overnight as histories of participation matter here and relations of trust with and in the council in some communities need rebuilding. 

The Civic University 

Throughout the fellowship questions concerning current governance structures and consultation culture have arisen. We have come to believe that a longer term project is also needed to explore the principles, processes and practices that are needed to increase the collaboration between anchor community organisations in the city, the council, the University of Bristol and the City Office to enable them to share stories, data and experiences from the communities that they serve. Targeting community anchor organsiations and working alongside Locality and the Social Justice Project (SJP) (both umbrella organizations who work with community orgs across the city) could increase the impact of this work. Morag Mcdermont and I recently successfully applied for a small amount of funding to develop this work alongside Locality and the SJP. “Many Neighbourhoods, One City: Co-creating Collaborative decision making” broadly aims to: 

  • Develop principles, processes and practices that can provide a roadmap for future city decision making based on the experiences and knowledge of co-production and co-creation identified across practice and research 
  • Provide a framework for a comprehensive UoB research programme that can support this roadmap that is collaboratively co-produced with communities in the city 


The City Fellows programme is also a chance to think differently about how the University of Bristol can work with the city. We are continuing the work alongside university colleagues who are working on newly emerging agendas concerning what the university is for – particularly in relation to the idea of ‘the civic university’. We have held an event with key partners to share and discuss our findings and subsequently completed a report which we sent out to partners. The above project ‘Many neighbourhoods, One City’ comes out of that work. 

Digital Inequalities  

I am also working alongside Susan Halford and Bristol Digital Futures Institute in exploring digital inequalities with Knowle West Media Centre and in relation to the Knowle West area. Back in 2020 800 people in Knowle West completed a survey around questions of digital inclusion – exploring questions of access but also confidence and literacies. We have completed a first analysis of the data with three researchers working with us to explore the survey responses which are both qualitative and quantitative. We are also analysing some qualitative interviews that took place last year with members of Knowle West Alliance around COVID and inequalities more generally and will be looking at how social, economic and political inequalities intersect with questions of digital inequality in this work. We are also likely to be expanding the work to other communities across Bristol. 

Next steps 

Creative City Fellow 

Since the beginning of the City Fellows programme we have been working to secure funding for a Creative City Fellow to work alongside us on the programme. Despite set backs with funding we managed to secure some funding for this activity and have now recruited a Creative City Fellow to the programme – Angie Bual who runs TriggerStuff. I am looking forward to working alongside Angie on creative methods and approaches that we might include in our working methods and approaches to thinking about participation in city decision making. 

Many Neighbourhoods One City 

I look forward to working with colleagues in Locality and the SJP to consider and develop a role for community anchor organisations in city decision making. This will enable a focus on place based community approaches that can explore infrastructures of care and how they work in the city and look at systemic change in how the voices of communities at the margins are heard in the city 

I will also continue to work with colleagues across the University of Bristol on our role as a civic university. 

Morag McDermont: City Fellowship Progress Report January 2021

1.Developing collaborative infrastructures for social justice 

In my first City Fellowship report I referred to the conclusions from the Productive Margins research programme : that to engage communities at the margins generally excluded from structures of power and decision-making we need to support and maintain an ‘experientially sensitive’ infrastructure of community-focused organisations working in collaboration with local universities and local government.  

IN this last period I have completed a paper with colleagues Bronwen Morgan (University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia) and Tehseen Noorani (Durham University, UK) ‘Collaborative Infrastructures for Social Justice’ which develops this idea. A copy is available here (or, if this does not work, by contacting me on 

2. Communities in Focus – harnessing the potential of community-generated data 

2.1 Wellspring Settlement Research: community response to Covod-19 pandemic

With the support of UoB research was carried out by Wellspring Settlement to capture the impact of its support during lockdown on those using its services. The research and reports are available here. 

2.2 Exploring the potential of the Wellspring Settlement Focus database

With funding from an Office for Students grant, student researchers are working with Wellspring Settlement to explore innovative ways in which community-generated data can be used to inform new initiatives and policy interventions within the city. The second phase of this project will explore the potential for the database being adopted more broadly across the City in order to build up comprehensive, comparable information about the needs and attributes of the city’s diverse communities. Having explored with staff of WS how they use the database and how they ideally would like to develop data use, the next stage will be for researchers to interview service users of Wellspring Settlement. These interviews will explore the extent to which data already collected can demonstrate the social value of residents coming together in multi-service environments such as WS and other community anchor organisations. With this residents’ perspective we will be able to make recommendations as to how the Focus database can be utilised and developed to support community-driven service delivery.

3.Working with the One City Economy Board

One of the aims of the City Fellowships has been to work with the City Office to bring the experience and expertise of communities at the margins of city decision-making into the One City Plan processes.  

3.1 In Sept 2020 comments were provided to the City Office to the draft Bristol One City Economic Recovery and Renewal Plan, which can be found here. In this it was argued that the draft Plan lacked a sense of the diverse communities that make up the city of Bristol and the differing ways in which the Covid-19 crisis has played out in different neighbourhoods and different communities. The effect is to produce a plan that feels it is for the businesses of Bristol and not the citizens and communities of Bristol.” The knowledge held by community anchor organisations about these diverse communities needs to be engaged in future reworkings of the Plan 

3.2 Following discussions at the October 2020 Social Justice Project, Anya Mulcahy-Bowman and I have been working with Nick Sturge, a member of the One City Economy Board, to develop proposals for ‘Recovering from Coronavirus – tackling unemployment -a joined-up approach’ (see Anya’s report for more detail). Our draft paper is currently being considered by the Chair and Vice-chair of the Economy Board.

4.Locality/Social Justice Project Research Project

Many Neighbourhoods, One City: Co-creating Collaborative Decision-Making

Following on from a paper brought to the December meeting of the Social Justice Project by Locality, funding has been secured from the University of Bristol Strategic Research Fund for a 6 month research project co-designed with Locality. Work will begin on this research in February 2021. 

Project Summary 

Building strategies based on knowledge of Bristol’s diverse communities is key to enabling a socially just pandemic recovery. The overall aim of this project is to work with the One City Approach to bring about a resetting of decision-making processes in the city so that the knowledge, experience and expertise of the city’s communities and neighbourhoods, as embedded in the Community Anchor organisations, becomes a central element. 

The project begins with a mapping or sense-making exercise that would establish what is already happening on the ground. Stage 2 would focus down on three communities/ neighbourhoods to identify the key matters of concern and to explore tangible and concrete examples of how these concerns are being tackled by CAOs and other voluntary organisations in those communities. Stage 3 would explore possible iterations and experimentations of these concrete examples, seeking to understand their potential for translation and mutation across the city, thus creating a framework for future action and research. 

Whilst we do not want to be specific about outputs or impacts as our central methodology is one of co-production, we see the project producing change in two directions: 

  1. Develop principles, processes and practices that can provide a roadmap for future city decision-making based on the experiences and knowledge of co-production and co-creation identified across practice and research;
  2. Provide a framework for a comprehensive UoB research programme that can support this roadmap that is collaboratively co-produced with communities in the city. 

Morag McDermont 

Bristol City Fellow/31st January 2021 

Lucy Martin Jones: City Fellows report. January 2021


Since March 2020 when the global C-19 pandemic began, WECIL has continued to deliver all our services remotely to meet the needs of the disabled community. Despite some challenges we have been able to continue to work towards the aims of the City Fellows in ‘the ‘development of new systems which are truly person-centred and target supporting disabled people towards independence and control and the One City Plan aim to work towards ‘integrated health and social care’ which ‘seamlessly meet(s) the ever-changing needs of our communities’ 

Progress Report 

1.‘Make it Local’. 

WECIL have received £55k funding from Bristol City Council for 2020/21 for its role in the Make it Local initiative.  Make it Local aims to bring together BCC as the commissioner with key anchor institutions to create market innovations in Adult Social Care, specifically to introduce supply of home care that is both locally and socially owned. WECIL’s role was envisaged to be two-fold; partly to ensure that any new interventions into social care for disabled people are genuinely co-produced with disabled people who are users of the care system, and partly to focus on how the initiative could be used to improve the outcomes for people who use a Direct Payment to manage their care and in particular, those who use a Direct Payment to buy commissioned services. 

Whilst we have been entirely supportive of efforts to shift care delivery away from private sector providers through the development of locally-owned social enterprises, WECIL argued from the outset that this was focussing on the wrong part of the problem and that the focus should be on how the initiative could be used to increase the levels of choice and control disabled people have into how their care needs are met (as is intended by the Care Act) rather than who supplies the ‘units of care’ prescribed by social workers. Improving the supply of the same services without questioning whether these services are what best meet the needs of an individual is merely tinkering within the system rather than acting on the system. 

As such, WECIL has been successful in introducing a new tool for self-directed support planning (Create My Support Plan) which enables an individual to identify their own objectives for achieving independence. We have also begun to develop a pilot of Individual Service Funds (ISFs) with a greater scope for varying the services which a citizen’s personal budget can be used to procure and are working closely with BCC and third sector provider, such as BS3, to develop a market of services for ISFs. We are also working with BCC’s Deputy Director of Adult Social Care and a range of Direct Payment Champions from across his department to apply WECIL’s systems thinking methodology to the study and redesign of the Direct Payments system to better meet the objectives of individual citizen. 

2. Create My Support Plan  

We have, with the support of a grant from BCC, been able to update our Create My Support Plan tool (CMSP). The tool allows an individual to carry out their own, person centred support planning and share this with whoever they want (i.e., family, social workers, PA’s, GP’s) therefore removing the need to tell their story multiple times, to enable them think about solutions which meet their needs and to feel prepared for a care assessment or review. The tool is even more relevant during a time where agency PA’s may need to be drafted in to support someone if their PA is off sick or isolating.  

3. ‘Self-direct, Connect & Support’ Navigators  

Through the National Lottery Community Fund, WECIL secured funding to support disabled people in response to the C-19 Crisis. We have set up a ‘Navigator’s team to provide a single point of entry into our organisation to ensure that disabled people have somewhere to go for support during the pandemic. Due to the flexible nature of the funding received, our navigators have been able to have in depth, limitless conversations with people. Our systems thinking ethos reminds us to listen to ‘what matters’ to our customers rather than pigeon holing individuals into funded services with set outputs/ outcomes. We have been taking a holistic approach to understanding all the elements of what matters to an individual in their lives. From care needs to social interaction and everything in between. Since October we have worked with approximately 100 individuals. We have helped people to access emergency grants for food and household items, linked people with befrienders, supported people with benefits and care changes as well as more unusual requests- supporting someone to relocate to Bristol, getting a fence fixed for a family with an autistic child which posed a safety risk, helping people to understand their bills, linking disabled people with services in their area where we previously would have signposted and much more. One of the key commonalities we are finding is that just being available to listen is proving a massive help to the people who access the Navigators team.   

The data and learning we are gaining from the Navigators project is helping to inform a complete redesign of our organisational/ service structures. We are gaining a real understanding of what matters to our community on a holistic level and how supporting someone to achieve multiple goals in their life brings greater independence.   

The Navigators team are also leading on the ISF trial work starting in Jan 2021 with an initial cohort of 10 individuals.   

4. ISF (Individual Service Fund) Trial  

Most Disabled people either use Direct Payments to manage their own support or receive council managed Commissioned Services using contract between the council and the support provider. Direct payments have a high level of choice and control, but also a high level of responsibility for the individual. Commissioned Services have low levels of choice and control, but the responsibility remains with the council. 

Independent Service Funds (ISF’s) are a middle option which gives Choice and Control without all the responsibility of managing a Direct Payment. 

Currently ISF’s are an underdeveloped option and it is thought less than 1% of Council spending is via ISF’s.  

WECIL and Bristol City Council are undertaking a ISF Pilot scheme between January 2021 and July 2021, where WECIL will work alongside the Council and the individual to complete Support and Care planning giving the individual the Choice and Control and then act as a Broker to source and pay for services from providers to meet the individual’s outcomes, taking away the responsibility from the individual. 

It is hoped that during the Pilot WECIL Navigators will work with 20 individuals currently funded by Direct payments. The Navigators team will use Create My Support Plan alongside the individual to carry out the initial support planning and to source suitable opportunities to fulfil their support needs.  

Currently Direct Payment are paid for based on a Time and Task model. The ISF pilot will allow the individual with WECIL’s support to take this Time and Task funding and use it more creatively to meet their outcomes. 

It is hoped the ISF pilot will show how ISF can give the individual the same Choice and Control as a Direct payment, but also without the responsibility. It is also hoped by using the funding more creatively and moving away from the Time and Task model it can also be demonstrated that this approach is better at meeting individual’s outcome and more cost effective for the Local authority.  

As part of the pilot, individuals will be able to purchase services directly from VSCE and healthcare providers for example purchasing their attendance at a Peer Support group on a weekly basis. The longer-term aspiration for the ISF trial is that the purchase of services/ activities will help to financially support the sector rather than relying on external funding.  

5. Health and Wellbeing Board  

As part of the fellowship, it was agreed with the support of the City Office that we would engage with the One City boards to help influence the involvement of people at the margins of decision making within the city, primarily with input with the One City Plan refresh. Dr Helen Manchester and I have been working with the Health and Wellbeing board and have attended workshop event to understand how participation currently happens and what is missing. The consensus is that changing the way participation happens to be more inclusive of our communities is a long-term ambition rather than just to impact this most recent iteration of the One City Plan.  

We are in the process of setting up a working group of ‘allies’ from the board to take this work further as well as a stakeholder event in February (VCSE sector, care providers, businesses, other Board reps etc.)  

The overall purpose of the stakeholder event is to see how groups, organisations and individuals would like to interact with HWB and how they can participate in work with BCC and NHS.  

We have had discussions about the very formal way in which information gets to the HWB through reports etc. and how exploring different modes of communication/ feedback could give communities more of a voice in decision making.  

Next steps:  

  • Health and Wellbeing board stakeholder meeting  
  • ISF trial  

Bristol City Fellows: call for a Creative City Fellow

This call is now closed. Thank you to all who applied.

The Bristol City Fellowships programme is looking for a creative to work alongside the City Fellows

Call closes: 5pm 27th March 2020

See PDF version of this call for circulation: Call for Creative City Fellow.pdf


Bristol City Fellowships is an innovative new programme of fellowship opportunities for practitioners and academics working alongside communities at the margins. The overarching aim of the programme is to contribute to changing cultures of collaboration in city governance and to work towards a radical rethinking of the inclusion of the expertise of communities at the margins in city decision making. The Bristol City Fellowships are a collaboration between the University of Bristol, Bristol City Office and the Social Justice Project.

Aims of the City Fellowship programme

  • To influence systems and process change at city level in order to include the expertise of communities at the margins in city decision making;
  • To facilitate and support actions to develop as a result of our collaborative work;
  • To understand and develop inclusive processes of governance at city scale.

The Creative City Fellow

Funding is available from the Brigstow Institute to enable a Creative City Fellow to work on the programme (for the equivalent of one day per week for 12 months) to develop and implement work that connects with the aims of the City Fellowship programme as outlined above. In particular to consider creative processes and methods that might support communities at the margins to be involved in city decision making.

We are particularly interested in creatives/artists with existing connections, experiences and methodologies that might enhance the work of the other city fellows. The Creative City Fellow would be expected to attend regular monthly meetings with the other fellows, becoming a member of the City Fellows cohort.

We would hope the creative would be able to work alongside the City Fellows and communities to:

  • Introduce the Fellows to new creative methodologies, and possibly processes of documentation that might support the fellows work with communities at the margins;
  • use the opportunity to learn and develop their own practice within the context of coproduced research, and work alongside the other fellows
  • Some additional funding will be available to cover costs related to the production of creative work alongside the fellows and the communities involved.

Why apply?

The City Fellows programme encourages applications from creatives interested in collaborative working, shifting cultures of decision making in the city and finding ways of thinking and doing beyond current practices.

The programme will provide:

  • A collaborative working environment with civil society practitioner/activists, organisations in the public and private sector and academics;
  • An opportunity to bring to the fore expertise and knowledge embedded in communities at the margins in the city;
  • Space and time for collaborative thinking, doing and reflection, involving experimentation and taking risks;
  • Funding of £10,000 p.a. to enable the Fellow to spend the equivalent of one day per week on the programme, for a period of 12 months;
  • Access to University of Bristol resources – desk space, IT resources, library access and access to other academic databases;
  • Access to City Office and Social Justice project hot desking space;
  • Links with academic and professional services staff at University of Bristol


Please send the following to by 5pm, 27th  March 2020

  • An expression of interest in no more than 2 pages of A4 outlining: Existing connections, experiences and methodologies that you would bring to the City Fellowships programme;
  • A relevant CV of no more than 2 pages;
  • An example of work that demonstrates relevant experience, presented in an appropriate form.

Contact for questions and informal conversations about the creative city fellowship.


The submissions will be shortlisted by the cohort of existing City Fellows. Shortlisting will be based on:

  • Demonstration of an understanding of methods of working that enable listening to and critically engaging with communities at the margins;
  • Demonstration of a commitment to and engagement with participatory/socially engaged arts practice;
  • Demonstration of engagement with the aims of the City Fellowship programme;
  • Clarity of the specific contribution the artist would provide to the City Fellows cohort;
  • Creative ability to undertake the work.

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to interview with a panel made up of City Fellows and the director of the Brigstow Institute, Tim Cole.

We are committed to equality of opportunity and welcome applications from individuals regardless of their gender, age, ethnicity, sexuality, race or disability status.

The Bristol City Fellowships Programme: Call for applications

Thank you for all the applications. This call is now closed. More news to follow soon.


What is it?

Applications are open for City Fellows projects. The primary aim of City Fellow programme is to craft a series of projects that can ensure that communities at the margins are considered to be critical knowledge producers in decision making around city futures.

Bristol City Fellowships is an innovative new programme of fellowship opportunities for academics and practitioners working alongside communities at the margins, which aims to build inclusive cultures of collaboration in the city. It is a joint programme between the University of Bristol, Bristol City Office and the Social Justice Project.

The City Fellows programme will craft a number of projects collectively with the diverse communities of Bristol, to develop principles and practices of collaborative working. We use the concept of ‘craft’ to refer to the desire to do things well, to work long and hard on perfecting something beautiful and useful. The City Fellows programme will demonstrate that the expertise and practice developed when practitioner and community knowledge works alongside academic research can play a key role in shaping city governance. It will enable us to contribute to changing cultures of collaboration in the city, alongside the Bristol City Office and aligned with the One City Approach, working towards a radical rethinking of the inclusion of marginalised voices in decision making. The programme will develop a new, inclusive approach to city governance and policy making, a ‘Bristol City Approach to collaboration’ that other cities could learn from. City Fellows will work as a team to design and influence structures of city scale decision-making to tackle systemic inequalities.

Funding for City Fellows

Funding is available to enable each City Fellow to work on the programme for one day per week for 18-24 months to develop and implement a project that connects with one of the themes of Bristol’s One City Plan (Health and Wellbeing, Economy, Homes and Communities, Environment, Learning and Skills and Connectivity) or identifies a cross cutting theme that should be considered (e.g. gender equality, disability and inclusion).

Applicants should have a direct link into communities at the margins of decision-making in the city of Bristol; this could be through employment in an organisation that works with/in Bristol’s diverse communities, or through other connections (e.g. through gifted time, or working in a consultancy role).

This call is looking for 4 more city fellows:

  • 3 x city practitioner/activists who will be hosted by and work with the University of Bristol.
  • 1 x early career academic (normally within 8 years of completing a PhD) at the University of Bristol who will work with key city institutions/actors.

As the first two Bristol City Fellows, Morag McDermont and Helen Manchester will co-ordinate and support the first cohort of fellows. They will support the cohort in collectively developing impacts, outputs and outcomes that are embedded in the city and disseminated nationally and internationally.


Why apply?

The City Fellows programme encourages applications from those interested in collaborative working, shifting cultures of decision making in the city and finding ways of thinking and doing beyond current practices. The programme will provide:

  • A collaborative working environment with other civil society practitioner/activists, organisations in the public and private sector and academics
  • An opportunity to bring to the fore expertise and knowledge embedded in the communities that they (will) work within
  • Space and time for collaborative thinking, doing and reflection, between researchers and communities at the margins, involving experimentation and taking risks
  • Funding of £10,000 p.a. to enable the Fellow to spend at least one day per week on the programme, for a period of 18-24 months. This funding will either be to the employing organisation to allow the person to be released from other duties 1 day per week, or will be paid directly to the Fellow. In the case of the ECR this will enable teaching buy out, equivalent to one day per week for 18-24
  • For city to university fellows, access to University of Bristol resources – desk space, IT resources, library access and access to other academic
  • For University to City Fellows access to City Office and Social Justice project hot desking space
  • The potential for modest support on the analysis of quantitative and qualitative data
  • Support from Helen and Morag and links with academic and professional services staff at UoB who can support the Fellow’s project

What kinds of applications will be considered?

Applicants will be required to develop and implement a collaborative, city-scale project that involves working alongside a community/ies at the margins to tackle systemic inequalities in the city. You may have an idea for an innovative project or you may want to work on an existing problem (eg access to employment) but are looking to develop an innovative approach which can be shaped through discussion and collaboration with the other Fellows.

The proposed projects should:

  • Enable city-scale collaboration between key organisations, including (but not limited to) the universities, communities organisations, charities, Bristol City Office and Council, other organisations and local businesses
  • Work explicitly on ensuring that communities at the margins are considered to be critical knowledge producers in decision making around city futures
  • Enable and lead to the creation of an in-depth case study, exploring the processes, practices and methods needed to enable city scale collaboration around key city concerns
  • Connect with one of the themes of Bristol’s One City Plan (Health and Wellbeing, Economy, Homes and Communities, Environment, Learning and Skills and Connectivity) or identify a cross cutting theme that should be considered (e.g. gender equality, disability and inclusion).

City Fellows must be committed to working as a cohort to regularly engage in collaborative thinking, doing and reflection and experimentation which encourages unconventional, risky research and practice.

City Fellows will be expected to find innovative ways of disseminating the outcomes of the projects including learning and practices/methodologies developed, supported by the other City Fellows, the City Office and others working in the University of Bristol. One key mechanism for dissemination in the City will be through the Bristol Forum.

How to apply

Each application should propose a project that engages with one or more of the themes in the One City Plan using an approach that is not ‘business-as-usual’. Applications do not have to present a fully worked-out project. However, it is important for applicants to demonstrate:

  1. A proven commitment to working collaboratively with others in the city
  2. Existing working relations with community/ies at the margins in the City and evidence of practices that engage these communities as key knowledge producers;
  3. The potential scope of city-scale collaboration: who else will you be looking to develop collaboration with during the course of the fellowship in order to enable cross sectoral working on the issue identified?
  4. The skills and resources that you bring to the programme, e.g. fields of expertise developed so far; networks with community groups, organisations, charities; potential for other sources of funding (or other resources) to support the project
  5. Awareness of the other skills and resources that would be required to enable the project to be undertaken
  6. An understanding of how the project could contribute to developing principles and practices of collaborative working in the City

Applications should clearly address points 1-6 above, and can be submitted:

  • as a written document of no more than 1000 words, or
  • a ten minute audio or video file, or
  • a combination of the two e.g. 5 minute video plus 500 word

To ensure fairness between applications and to enable the panel to assess applications equally, any applications that exceed these limits may be rejected.

The decision panel will include Morag and Helen, representatives from the City Office, The Social Justice Project and the University of Bristol.

There will be opportunities to meet and discuss potential projects with Helen and Morag at several clinics, running during October 2019. More details can be found here.

Please send all completed applications to:

Closing date: Friday 1st  November 2019, 12 noon

Awards announced: December 2020. We envisage the fellowships will run between January 2020 and December 2022

This programme has been made possible with the support of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Impact Acceleration Account.

Eligibility criteria

  1. Practitioners/activists from community organisations or other civil society organisations in the City of Bristol, or a motivated individual/activist (this could include community or employee owned businesses). NB it will not be possible to support individuals currently in statutory paid roles financially (we may be able to provide some support for teachers). However, you are welcome to apply if you have agreement from your employee to support your release to work with us on this
  2. Early Career Academics, with an interest in collaborative and interdisciplinary research, on any Pathway at the University of Bristol from across disciplines are welcome to apply. An ECR here is understood as being within 8 years of PhD completion (or more than this if you have had periods away from academia- if this is the case please explain in your application). You will need the permission of your line

For both categories, you must demonstrate that you have an established city network that you can draw on/engage.

Useful Guides

These are useful guides for collaborative projects: