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  

Anya Mulcahy-Bowman (Wellspring Settlement): update September 2020

Context: ‘My original proposal’

Portrait of Anya Mulcahy-Bowman: A lady in her 30's. Anya has wavy pink hair gathered at the top of her head, and blue eyes.I led the development, set up, pilot and evaluation of the BOOST Finance Project and now manage it. This collaborative, innovative, project was in direct response to community feedback and places community engagement, expertise and experience at its foundation, with an organic approach that allowed for the development of the service to be guided by and respond to the presenting needs of the community, seeing the participants as the experts of their own lives. The approach responds to the barriers that create the communities’ sense of disempowerment and develops partnerships to respond. I am in the process of establishing an Economic Development Partnership with geographic partners. Strategic questions for investigation include looking at a ‘wider development’, piloting the tool in other geographic locations to fit differing presenting geographic issues, as the economic development partnership offers, or ‘deeper development’, offering more in our direct community for example engaging in the opportunities the Temple Quarter development presents for this community. As part of the fellowship programme I want to develop collaboration with both the University of Bristol, the local authority and wider collaborators to ensure the opportunities being developed on the doorstep of the Lawrence Hill ward are available to and benefit this community. The BOOST model is part of this and lends itself to informed development and innovative response. 


In its most immediate sense BOOST Finance has had to pause direct delivery as it has been impossible to continue a drop-in based service during this time. We have redirected our organisational energises into meeting the immediate practical and emotional needs of the community during this difficult period. This has included a call centre and befriending service, food delivery and shopping services, prescription collection and delivery service, family services including delivery of arts and craft, nappies, formula milk, children’s clothing and monitored use of our Family Centre garden for families in over-crowded high rise flats as well as support to and the establishing of mutual aid provisions across Lawrence Hill. With the support of Bristol University we have been able to engage a proportion of the community in a series of survey’s to assess the ongoing and changing needs and aspirations of the community we work with to ensure our Covid19 Emergency Response Service adapts and meets this community’s needs 

What that means for me

Much of the opportunity the City Fellows provided was the chance to collaborate with others to help both develop the BOOST model across the City through the development of a Community Partner Economic Development Partnership and make connections on ‘our doorstep’ to ensure the opportunities that present through the Temple Quarter development reach this area has been put on hold. Much of this has had to go on hold with much more of an immediate, inwards focusing approach being needed. 

As we enter a new phase of the pandemic situation communities are facing more immediate challengesMany are dealing with either reductions or loses of income, rising debts, challenges to  mental health, anxieties of having to step out into the world again, children returning to school, mixed messages from government which are confused and unclear whilst challenges that were present before Covid19 are exacerbated. Meeting up on any level, other than virtually, continues to be very difficult and for those groups on the margins of decision-making processes, the reality of digital exclusion, either through means or skill is ever apparent and make this type of engagement impossible. It has been difficult to maintain focus on a City Fellowship program when my role has and continues to be very directly involved in the response to the needs of our community through this time.  Services are struggling to reopen under government guidance we are seeing more issues that are not ‘emergency response’ type interventions but either gaps in service provision due to COVID19 service closures or gaps that have always been in the system.  

Challenges that this has presented

My interpretation of this heading is how this is affecting my original vision when joining the fellowship and where I find myself now. There is a strong argument to say that despite the winding path I find myself on, it is all relevant as we look to be informed and directed by the communities we are involved in as communities at the margins. Collaboration on any level remains a challenge in times of social distancing and a rapidly fluxing and changing working and community environment. Things feel at an another precipiceThe government appears to be shifting its narrative on to one of blame, of illegal activities, of bans, of new laws, of stronger enforcement of the rules, of fines, of Covid-secure Marshalls, of curfews and punitive action, the language of community spirit and togetherness appears to be rapidly disappearing, the sense that we are all in this together, of Thursday night appreciative clapping sessions. The challenge now is how do we hold on to a sense of hope, empowerment and community in light of the ongoing Covid19 challenge? 

Opportunities this offers

Covid19 and recent events have laid bare the very real social inequalities that existAs food poverty and the benefit system take centre stage, along with other issues, we have an opportunity to act and promote these issues as for a short period of time for some, they will be able to relate to what it actually feels like to be unable to feed your family, not nowhere the next meal is coming from and experience of having to navigate a very confusing and opaque benefit system as peoples financial securities have come into question through no fault of their own, challenging a carefully orchestrated ‘undeserving poor’ rhetoric that has been feed to us over this last decade or so 

recently attended a Finance Bristol & Bath Recovery Planning workshop facilitated by Bristol’s One City Economic Board which is a filter into the production of an economic recovery strategy and associated actions plans for Bristol, the mood from this was very much one of challenge to the notion of recovery, posing recovery as suggesting that overcoming and reverting back to the ‘norm’, when it is clear the economic system does not work for all, and that an economy that is addicted to growth and profit maximisation should surely not be the driving force of economy ‘recovery’ when the very state of it is creating additional anxiety and stress for those who have lost or are at risk of losing their income and livelihoods 

What are your priorities moving forward?

Prioritise moving forward are learning from the redesign and repurpose model we ran as a response to the lockdown we experienced in late March for several months. Learning form this model again places emphasis on the need for us to refocus our work as an organisation to fit holistically around people recognising them as multifaceted as opposed to labelling issues and syphoning them into silo’s, for example parents access the family services, those with debt and employment issues access BOOST etc. We are exploring a Community First response that builds on an assetbased community model that looks to the community for the solutions through our Network project, with project expertise where necessary, but not as a defining point. This is broadening the BOOST Finance model out to incooperate our approach organisationally, as opposed to project, wide. We are envisaging BOOST Finance being in high demand going forwards, there are funding implications around being able to meet this need as are adapting the model to be delivered in a ‘socially distanced’ way. 

As we move into a second stage response the BOOST Finance model has now set up a Food Club in Lawrence Hill, in partnership with Family Action. In the first 6weeks of operations we have had 27 members joining, whose membership has benefitted an additional 20+ adults and 46+ children. Many members are working but finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet, others are struggling either on benefits or in the process of managing changes to their financial situation. 

Natasha Broad: Update September 2020


Portrait of Natasha Broad: A smiling lady in her 30's Natasha has thick straight dark brown hair and a heavy fringe.Context: Covid-19/Other

As the quarantine period started, Freedom and OTR worked to take all services online as quickly as possible. Freedom met with some of our members to discuss the ways in which an online service would most meet their needs and used this to inform our delivery. We’re still offering an online session for both groups (13-18/18-25) each week, but using different platforms based on the group feedback. We have worked to ensure that we have regular connection to our members through a variety of methods, including social media, and we have been able to offer 121 sessions online with an LGBTQ+ specific counsellor and with Wellbeing Practitioners, who offer solution focused support around mental health such as anxiety, low mood and depression. We have several members who are shielding due to other health considerations.
Our young people are socially active and have been affected by recent events including the Black Lives Matter movement, trans equality in the UK, alongside recent events surrounding trans communities in Hungary and the US, and this is being taken into consideration when working alongside our members. Ensuring that our project, and the work involving the City Fellows, is intersectional and reflects the rich diversity of Bristol and of the LGBTQ+ community remains a priority.
Freedom have expanded our remit over the last few months in other ways, working with SARI to offer consultation around LGBTQ+ phobic hate crimes. Moving forward, this will include an element of health promotion around reporting hate crime.

What this means for you

Restrictions relating to Covid-19 have had a significant affect on LGBTQ+ young people and has affected the intended impact of the City Fellows project. Having come into this project intending to work with young people to establish and create a project that directly relates to their needs, this has been delayed. I would like to work face to face with young people where possible, recognising that hostile home environments can mean that our members are unable to engage with LGBTQ+ specific services in the same way remotely. I am also conscious that the needs and desires of LGBTQ+ young people may change in the coming months, and local activism is likely to become important.

Challenges that this has presented

A big part of our work is about creating community, and being unable to offer face to face services has changed the way that this operates. As this City Fellows project is slightly different from that of other fellows, in that there isn’t a pre-planned proposal or an existing project to work on, the circumstances surrounding Covid-19 have affected my ability to create something as quickly as I might have liked. However, changing social circumstances, specifically relating to LGBTQ+ people, mean that this project is likely to have greater potential moving forward, as we work alongside the University and the City Office to centre their experiences, as there have been smaller pieces of work locally that have benefitted from the input of LGBTQ+ young people, including the Economic Recovery Webinars organised by the City Office .

What is more/less important now

Freedom are focusing this year on celebrations for our 25th birthday, which took place on July 4th, making us (we think!) the longest running LGBTQ+ project for young people in the UK. Celebrations for this feel particularly important in light of cancelled LGBTQ+ celebrations worldwide. We are focused on making international connections to show solidarity with LGBTQ+ communities globally, including a potential collaboration with China Pride.
Re-establishing community connections will be important moving forward, and a recognition of the contributions of LGBTQ+ people feels like it could become particularly pertinent. Conversations have taken place locally around some intergenerational work involving older and younger LGBTQ+ people, and the importance of documenting history feels more important than ever in light of recent events.

What are your priorities moving forward

I want to ensure that experiences of quarantine and Covid-19 for LGBTQ+ people are collected and recognised. There are some conversations that are taking place around inclusive SRE education, and offering support for teaching staff in the south west to ensure that HIV awareness is included in PSHE lessons. We are also looking ahead to LGBTQ+ history month in February 2021. As we come out of lockdown and the ‘new normal’ becomes clearer, I will work with new and existing members to establish what their priorities are in the city and how we can ensure that their voices are heard.


Lucie Martin-Jones (WECIL): Update September 2020

Portrait of Lucie Martin-Jones: a Smiling lady in her 30's looking to the side. Lucie has straight medium length blonde hair and a fringe.Context – Covid-19/other

In early March 2020 the global Covid-19 Pandemic reached Britain which saw WECIL entering emergency response mode immediately. Within the space of a week WECIL’s whole delivery model needed to be overhauled and adapted as well as mobilising our entire staff team to work at home in the space of two weeks.  

This meant that we cancelled all home visits and face to face appointments, groups for young disabled people, office walk ins, volunteering activity and group courses. This affected our Independent Living Payments team (Direct Payments and Payroll), benefits advice, advocacy, employability services, short breaks for families with disabled children, inclusive youth groups, participation groups and befriending services). Sadly, the support we provide to Businesses on a commercial basis (which is a crucial income generating part of the organisation) pretty much stopped overnight. This includes Disability Equality training, access audits and supporting organisations to become Disability Confident.  

What that means for you/ Challenges that this has presented         

Positively we managed to get staff working from home pretty seamlessly as home working was already part of our working culture and the technology was in place as part of our risk mitigationTo date, no existing grant or statutory contract funding has been significantly reduced and staff have worked hard alongside members and funders to find innovative solutions to support oucommunity such as running Zoom courses, Facebook live youth sessions and increasing telephone support.  

I had to step into another department (Independent Living Payments Team) to meet rising demand by reallocating my own workforce and finding solutions from a Community Development perspective to meet the need. 

As a Head of all Community based services this did mean that personally my attention was heavily focussed on adapting services and working hard to retain staff and funds. As a fellow, this has meant that face to face interaction with our community has been much more limited and some of the plans I had for engagement have had to be put on hold. This is especially relevant to the creation of the Disabled People’s Co-Production Toolkit due to the challenge of not physically being able to engage with members.  

The disabled community will be and are disproportionately affected by C-19 with many people’s requirements to shield continuing much longer than the ease of lockdown. The narrative within the media has portrayed ‘older and vulnerable people’ for whom C-19 is more likely to be fatal, as almost disposable causing great anxiety for the disabled community.  

The impact of increased long term social isolation and the inability to access supportive therapies, medical appointments, planned surgeries and social interactions will have a knock on effect on physical and mental wellbeing for disabled people which in turn will create an increased demand for care and support.  

Access and inclusion will always be an issue whilst we work in this way as many will not be able to access online/ telephone interaction or have the means to do so, however, this has also opened up opportunities for people to engage with us who may have previously struggled to do so.  

Opportunities this offers

As WECIL’s fellowship proposal focussed heavily on 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’, C19 has given us an opportunity to review our internal systems as well as working closely with BCC and other stakeholders to effectively support emergency response systems. From involvement in meetings with other third sector organisations (both locality based and representing communities of interest), this seems to be the consensus across the VCSE sector.  

Early on in lockdown, we worked closely with local authorities Bristol City Council, South Gloucestershire and B&NES to risk assess over 800 disabled people who receive a direct payment. The purpose of the risk assessment was to understand how ‘vulnerable’ their packages of care were. For example, if a disabled person relied on one PA (Personal Assistant) for significant care needs/ hours and this PA became unwell or needed to self-isolate this made their care very vulnerable. If a disabled person had a bank of four PA’s who supported them with general daily duties, then their care was less vulnerable as they could rotate PA’s or reallocate some of their care needs. Other considerations included the health conditions of the disabled person and if they were required to self-isolate (a high proportion of our community), if they needed help with medication, eating, washing, moving etc. and would not be able to maintain their independence without this support. Our intervention and support with this activity has resulted in wide recognition and praise of WECIL and WECIL staff resulting in more cohesive working relationships and an understanding of our trusting relationships with disabled citizens. It also uncovered a high volume of people who felt anxious and isolated due to the global pandemic.  

Make it Local  

As part of ongoing work and discussions with BCC we have now had confirmation that WECIL will receive £55k from Power to Change for our role in the Make it Local project 

This will be the cross sector collaboration described in our City Fellows proposal bringing together  

  • WECIL  
  • A locality-based anchor organisation (BS3)  
  • BCC Adult Social Care Commissioning  
  • Locality UK (national community anchor infrastructure org)  
  • Other representative local anchor and key local (strategic) VSC organisations (e.g. in BS3, Windmill Hill City Farm)  

WECIL’s role will be to work with local disabled people managing their own care at home or wishing to move to doing so to establish how they would choose to use their personal budgets to meet their care needs if the system were truly person centred. 

As a partnership we will then  

  • Describe (at high level) the resources and assets in the area, and their capability to meet the aims identified by disabled people managing their own care  
  • Present (and debate) the challenges in the area from a general community and from a social care perspective (including local social care “market”).  
  • Scope the feasibility of developing a local, community-owned enterprise which can meet the care needs gap identified 

Create My Support Plan  

We have also received £18k of funding from BCC to update WECIL’s support planning tool (Create My Support Plan- CMSP) which has been underutilised since its inception. The tool gives a disabled person the ability to carry out a self-directed care assessment which can be shared with whoever the individual wants to understand their care needs. This includes PAs, family, Social Workers and Advocates. Aside from influencing a culture of ‘person centred care planning’ in general, this is especially relevant during C-19 when disabled people are needing to draft in temporary care and support from people who do not know and understand their needs.  

Additionally, people need to find alternative means of meeting their care needs as previous means may no longer be available 

The tool will link in with Well Aware so that the individual will be able to also direct themselves (or with the support of a navigator, family member or PA) to other areas of support available to them within their area for example, mental health services.  

Care Act ‘Easement’s and the Coronavirus Act  

On the 25th March 2020 the government passed the Coronavirus Act. For disabled people this means the rights disabled people are entitled to through the Care Actincluding Local Authorities having the duty to assess people who might require care and support and make the assessment centred around what matters to the individual, were impacted. The Coronavirus Act means that Local Authorities have the option to suspend some of these duties if they can say that this is reasonable to help manage the burden of C19 on health and care systems. These are rights that disabled people (including the founders of WECIL) fought hard to win to give them more choice and control in their lives.  

This was deeply worrying for WECIL and alongside our commitment within the fellowship to ‘work with disabled citizens, commissioners (e.g. Bristol City Council Direct Payments Team and BNSSGCCG Continuing Health Care)’ to identify system conditions which: Contravene the Care Act  in response we have managed to keep an open and ongoing dialogue with the Head of Bristol Adult Social Care regarding our concerns and the need to meaningfully include disabled people and users of care in decision making around easements. We also worked alongside Irwin Mitchel Solicitors who provided pro bono support to us to compose an easier read statement and information for our community to enable them to feel equipped and supported to challenge any decisions which could be in detriment to their Care 

What is more/less important now

It is more important than ever due to the context given above, that ‘development of new systems which are truly person-centred and target supporting disabled people towards independence and control’ are developed and reviewed.  

The C-19 crisis has given wider society the chance to look at how life was and how it could be. Even simple measures such as employers making adjustments for staff to carry out home and flexible working if continuedopens up opportunities for wider access and inclusion for disabled people within the employment market. Arts and culture has become available in new platforms such as online (National Theatre Live Streaming) or through the use of Telepresence Robots meaning that disabled people who even before C-19 couldn’t access these spaces have now been able to.  

There is discussion of pedestrianizing large parts of Bristol which is an opportunity to look at the wider access issues many disabled people face when navigating the city and disabled peoples’ voices must be present in these discussions.  

In terms of health and care systems, the strain on Local Authorities and NHS from C-19 will undoubtedly create a long-term impact on resource and a backlog in assessing and providing commissioned care. WECIL believes that by placing the citizen at the centre of their care planning and decision-making focussing on ‘what matters’, not only does this make care more effective and personalised but this is cost saving in the longer term. Through the use of tools such as CMSP the citizen, with the support of WECIL completes the initial care assessment/ review process drawing in Social Care decisions later on and subsequently saving on resource for social care teams. Also, encouraging asset-based ways of assessing with the linking to Well Aware, the disabled person is also able to identify what other support is available to them potentially reducing the need for more funded care hours.  

Through delivering our C-19 befriending and social services, we are able to engage with disabled people who are socially isolated and identify some of the challenges people are facing offering support, signposting or safeguarding to contribute towards the prevention of a decline in mental and physical wellbeing.  

What are your priorities moving forward?

Whilst face to face engagement has not been possible as I had envisaged in my role as City Fellow, we have now opened up new platforms for disabled people to engage with us. For some people, using an online platform is more accessible for example for those who struggle to get accessible transport or find group environments anxiety inducing. 

I would like to harness these new opportunities to engage with people to attract those whose voices have not previously been heard into these really important conversations about the future. At a strategic level I feel that WECIL have made excellent progress with our City Fellow’s proposal however on a personal level I want to be more engaged with our members and actively promote the inclusion of their voices and opinions in city wide decision making.  

My immediate priorities include:   

  • Make it Local 
  • The roll out and promotion of CMSP 
  • Inclusive employment practices- engaging employers with WECIL’s WorkASSURED programme for disabled staff  
  • The redesign of Care Management Advocacy Services  

Morag McDermont: Update September 2020

Portrait of Morag McDermont: a smiling lady in her 40's with long brown and grey hair tied in a bun.Before setting up the City Fellows programme, Helen Manchester and I were working on a 5 year programme of co-produced research with community organisations, Productive MarginsOne of the main conclusions for me from this work was the following: 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. (You can find more in the final chapter of the book the team produced, Imagining Regulation Differently. We used the (rather clumsy) term ‘experientially sensitive’ to denote the idea that expertise derived from everyday experience is an essential form of knowledge and practice that needs to be central to structures of power and decision-making. 

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

With this concern for infrastructure came an interest in the role and potentialities of data generated by and in communities. Data is an essential part of infrastructures in the same way as communication and transport systems are. The project aims to make community-generated data more productive – making data flow in ways that enable the experiential expertise of communities to intervene and influence city governance. 

At the instigation of Wellspring Settlement, the project set out to i) explore innovative ways in which community-generated data can be used to inform new initiatives and policy interventions within the city, and ii) 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. 

The Coronavirus context

When Wellspring Settlement was appointed one of Bristol’s community hubs to respond to community needs in the current Covid-19 crisis the direction of data flows shifted slightlyFrom just before lockdown WS set up a survey to engage with those in the local Lawrence Hill Community, alongside those who access their services across East Bristol, to gather information about community needs during the Coronavirus pandemic. The intention was to give the Settlement real time and ongoing community information to inform how the hub services should be developed and as empirical evidence to lobby for the area with the City Council and others. The Settlement asked for help in analysing data, to devise and implement data collection methods into the future and to produce reports. Over the spring and summer of 2020 myself, a research associate Jack Nicholls, and three student researchers Gwen Brown, Nia Jones and Judith Kibuye, produced a series of reports  (available on the Wellspring Settlement and City Fellows website). 

However, one limitation of the survey as a tool for collecting data is the respondents to the survey do not reflect ethnic mix of the Lawrence Hill area nor the mix of communities who engage with the Settlement. This is an important learning point for a project that seeks to use the power of community-generated data, and important to reflect back to policy-makers who very often place great weight on seemingly large-scale survey information.   

The project to realise the potential of the Wellspring Settlement database and the potential for data collection across the city is now about to begin, with resources for more student researchers and a research associate funded through a successful UoB grant bid to the Office for Students One of the aims of this project is to generate data that can feed into Bristol’s future-looking One City Plan, data that arises from the communities of Lawrence Hill and the wider communities that engage in the Wellspring SettlementA longer-term aim of this project is to explore the potential for the database – or similar approaches to community-generated data collection – to be brought into play across the City. 

Alongside this data project, I and others in the University of Bristol are now working on a project with Locality South West to look at the future for the infrastructure of community organisations in the City 

Challenges and Opportunities

The Locality Research 

Locality has just launched a research report which shows the importance of existing social infrastructure and community resources that have been built up over time: including community assets, local services, volunteer capacity, partnerships and networks. The aims for their future work are: 

  • To demonstrate to policymakers that community organisations have the answers to the big challenges they are trying to solve 
  • To demonstrate the essential role of community organisations in the coronavirus/post coronavirus context. 
  • To set out path/recommendations for strengthening and harnessing the power of community organisations as a response to big social and economic challenges we are facing and will face 
  • To support the power of community brand campaign to champion the community organisation model. 

Locality SW have proposed that UoB bring its research potential to work with a collaboration of local community anchors to looking to developing an ‘invest-able proposition’ to put to the City, Region and communities to take them forward for the next 10-15 years which would 

  • Examine the consequences of recession: exponentially increased needs in communities alongside dramatic depletion in community organisations’ resources  
  • Rethink financial models  
  • Examine the opportunities and challenges of mergers and partnerships  

Priorities for moving forward

  • to establish a working brief for the community anchors project with Locality which enables UoB research resources to complement the expertise and knowledge of Locality members to shape strategy-making in the City  
  • bringing others in UoB into the collaboration – the work so far has been in collaboration with others in UoB, particularly Malu Villela-Garcia and Martin Parker of Inclusive Economies Institute  
  • possibly identify another City for comparative study/to enable cross-fertilisation of ideas 
  • to identify connections and linkages with other City Fellows work  
  • to work with the Social Justice Projects as advisers and reflectors to take this forward