Bristol Commission for Race Equality & Women’s Commission

At our Full Council meeting last week, we received reports on the work of the Bristol Women’s Commission and the Bristol Commission on Racial Equality.

Both of these commissions do vital work for our city. They bring together expertise from across Bristol to help us create a fair and inclusive city, where economic and social equality is at the heart of everything we do. I invited Sandra Gordon and Vernon Dowdy, interim Chair and Vice Chair for the Bristol Commission for Race Equality, and Penny Gane – chair of the Bristol Women’s Commission to share the work they have done.

Bristol Commission for Race Equality

Bristol is a city where racial and ethnic disparities prevail.

“Ethnic minorities in Bristol experience greater disadvantage than in England and Wales as a whole in education and employment and this is particularly so for Black African people” (Runnymede 2017)

The Bristol Mayoral Commission on Race Equality (CoRE) was set up in January 2018 to help address the systemic discrimination and disadvantages experienced by members of its community because of their race or ethnicity.

In the last 18 months we have:

  • worked with Avon and Somerset Police to support the development of a diversity and inclusion training pathway to ensure cultural competency throughout process;
  • facilitated a series of community engagement events ‘It Takes a Village’ focussed on Black and Dual heritage families exploring impact of serious youth violence and the criminal justice system. Our next event is on 12th December 2019 at City Academy 5-9.30pm;
  • worked with the Judiciary to recruit 11 BAME magistrates, the highest number of BAME magistrates recruited in Bristol;
  • joined the Police Strategic Independent Advisory Group, Women’s Independent Advisory Group and Lammy Review Meeting, contributing to meaningful discussions on Police and Community relations;
  • commissioned parent/teacher/student conferences with a view to address the current inequalities suggested through data and incidents to identify changes to current CPD programmes to support teachers, and identify support needed for parents;
  • participated in a research project to look at the national and global initiatives that have led to higher performance within the BAME community with a view to bringing this back to the Bristol Context;
  • supported the Global Majority Teachers Network in June 2019 to bring Bristol’s BAME teachers together. This group supports teachers through Continued Professional Development, networking and allowing BAME teachers who often work in isolation a place to share their experiences with others.

The task of delivering equality and equity to the City’s disadvantaged is no small matter and is a task for us all, the rewards are a stronger, more productive and cohesive place for us all to live and thrive.

The city needs to embrace the challenge required to make real change through a One City collective approach to delivery. There is a need to explore this opportunity and work towards the Mayoral Commission on Race becoming a City Commission on Race and an integral part of the One City Plan.

Bristol Women’s Commission

The commission was set up in 2014, when Bristol signed the European Charter for equality of women and men in local life. Bristol Women’s Voice is a network for women in Bristol that supports the Bristol Women’s Commission and works with decision makers to ensure actions are taken which make a real difference to women’s lives.

The commission seeks to redress the unequal representation and discrimination encountered by women and girls in Bristol. It has six task groups of stakeholders and experts. Some 70 women from 65 organisations now contribute time and work to the commission. We also now have a Cabinet Member for Women in Bristol, who sits on the commission.

We are five short years in the making and in this time have:

  • drawn up a Women in Business Charter, signed by well over 50 employers, to help address the gender pay gap;
  • organised a huge citywide programme of Suffrage Centenary events in 2018;
  • won funding that enabled us to focus on getting women into paid employment in one of the most disadvantaged areas of Bristol; 
  • run a 50-50 campaign that has seen numbers of women councillors increase from 26% to 43% in two years;
  • lobbied for affordable child care in Bristol (now a One City priority);
  • achieved a standalone chapter on women’s health in the Joint Needs Assessment (that reports on the health and wellbeing needs of the people of Bristol), to highlight the difference between men and women’s health and social outcomes;
  • set up the Bristol Zero Tolerance initiative, to tackle violence against women and girls. This means employers now have policies and actions to tackle gender-based violence, abuse, harassment and exploitation;
  • worked with Avon and Somerset police through the  Zero Tolerance initiative, to get misogyny accepted as a hate crime;
  • championed a ‘nil cap’ (zero – that none should exist) on sexual entertainment venues;
  • secured Government Equalities Office funding of almost £300,000 in 2 years;
  • run two girls’ conferences per year for last three years, with the support of positive role models;
  • addressed the safety of women on public transport: particularly male violence and pornography. This is now on the agenda of the Confederation of Passenger Transport meeting in January 2020, and will be raised nationally. 

We have also expanded the commission partnership to include Bristol Women’s Voice, the West of England Combined Authority, the University of West of England, the University of Bristol, University Hospital Bristol, the Clinical Commissioning Group, Avon and Somerset Police, the Trade Union Congress, City of Bristol College, Bristol schools, First Bus, Trinity Mirror, the Fawcett Society, Voscur, representatives of the One City Plan and four councillors from different parties as well as the Cabinet Member for Women.

Clean Air Summit

This week, city partners came together for Bristol’s first Clean Air Summit, co-hosted by Bristol City Council and UK100.

The Summit was the first city wide discussion on the proposed Clean Air Zone and diesel ban policy, submitted to government as an outline plan to clean our air as well as looking at wider environmental improvements.

On the same day, Kings College produced a report that demonstrated, without any action, 300 000 life years could be lost by Bristolians. The lead researcher David Dajnak presented the report, highlighting that children born in 2011 would die up to 6 months early, from the impact of poor air. 

Our clean air proposals are a response to our moral, legal and ecological obligations to reduce levels of nitrogen dioxide in the city in the shortest possible time.

The NHS, SusCom, Bristol Clean Air Alliance, Destination Bristol, Bristol Green Capital Partnership, UWE, the Environment Agency, RADE, Stagecoach, Sustrans, Business West, Black South West Network, Uber, First Bus and others all contributed with all partners recognising the health emergency.

Themes of discussion centred around:  

  • Logistical challenges and support for the economy and for organisations during the transition.
  • Finding a balance between exemptions and mitigations, without undermining the integrity of the scheme.
  • A Communications plan to explain the health challenge, the narrow legal requirement and the support available

My team then shared emerging plans to transform the city’s public transport system and re-imagine a pedestrianised city centre, with radical improvements to bus and rail services, and developing the mass transit underground network.

I referenced these plans in my recent State of the City Speech and as we work together with our neighbours, we will publish details of these transformative plans very soon. 

In a debate led by Guy Hitchcock from Ricardo, we went on to discuss the need for positive incentives to further reduce emissions from Bristol’s vehicle fleet and decarbonise our transport fleet to achieve zero net emissions by 2030, in line with the targets set in the One City Plan. 

This debate centre on:

  • Vehicle electrification targets
  • Financial incentives, like cheaper parking for Electric Vehicles
  • Support the roll-out of electric charging infrastructure 
  • Supporting more EV-specific car club spaces;
  • Transitioning the Council’s and other  fleets

We will be taking forward these initiatives into our climate strategy as we maintain momentum on cleaning our air, tackling non traffic emissions and making real change in a climate emergency.

Child-Friendly City conference

Today’s guest blog comes from Cllr Helen Godwin, my Cabinet Lead for Women, Children and Families.

As we prepare to welcome delegates  from across the globe to Bristol for the first ‘Towards The Child Friendly City’ conference later this month it has given us an opportunity to reflect on our own city and to challenge ourselves.

How child friendly is Bristol?

Bristol has a strong reputation as a city that believes in children, in play, in creativity and inclusion;  it is no coincidence that we were the first choice city to host this international conference. We have much to share. Our incredible, resilient adventure playgrounds, the Playing Out movement that began here in Bristol, our Youth Council which is recognised across the world for including young people in democracy – the list goes on. However, there is clearly more to do and I want to use this conference and UN Universal Children’s Day (20 November) to challenge our city further.

For Bristol to call itself truly child friendly this has to be reflected in our infrastructure and our built environment. As Bristol changes we are building much needed homes, communities and infrastructure but we must demand design that works for families and that emboldens children whilst keeping them safe, fit and well.

Earlier this month I took our ALIVE obesity reduction strategy to Cabinet. This strategy focuses on healthy eating, physical activity and healthy places. We have an opportunity to make Bristol a healthy place by ensuring that as we develop and regenerate the future city we ask questions of planners and developers and challenge ourselves to create spaces for children to thrive, create, breath clean air and stay fit, safe and healthy.

All of these asks are enshrined in our Bristol Children’s Charter, launched last year and now with over 100 signatory organisations all committed to putting children first in Bristol. This commitment is palpable but now is the time to take the next step. Our Bristol focussed session at the conference (tickets available here) will be an opportunity for professionals from the key sectors to come together with experts in children’s rights to discuss how best Bristol can rise to this challenge. The answer no doubt lies in innovation, creativity, teamwork and a little bit of hope. All of which are qualities that children demonstrate in abundance!

For more information on the conference please contact Adrian Voce at Adrian@playfulplanet.org.uk . Delegate passes are still available, as well as tickets for the Bristol focussed session.

World AIDS Day

Today’s guest blog comes from Aled Osborne, Fundraising and Communications Manager, Brigstowe.

December 1st is when we mark World AIDS Day. It is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. Founded in 1988 by 2 people who were working in the World Health Organisation, the premise was simple: to raise awareness and to dispel stigma.

The theme of this year’s World AIDS Day is ‘Communities Make the Difference’. This year it is important to recognise the essential role that communities have played and to continue to play in the HIV/AIDS response at the international, national and local levels.

Communities contribute to the HIV/AIDS response in many different ways. Their leadership and advocacy ensure that the response remains relevant and grounded, keeping people at the centre and leaving no one behind. Communities include peer educators, networks of people living with or affected by HIV, such as gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs and sex workers, women and young people, counsellors, community health workers, voluntary and community sector organisations, and grass-roots activists.

In the Bristol area there are approximately 1400 people living with HIV who are accessing care at Southmead Hospital, there is a prevalence of 2.7 per 1000 and we have around 50 new diagnoses every year. We are also very blessed to have amazing services – from the care people living with HIV receive at Southmead Hospital, the testing options provided by Unity Sexual Health and the Terrence Higgins Trust, to the health and well-being support provided by Brigstowe. There are also a large group of passionate and vocal activists who continue to empower those living with HIV and impact the conversation surrounding HIV in Bristol.

Here at City Hall we are proud to support this special time of year and have lots going on. We will fly the Red Ribbon Flag until World AIDS Day. Brigstowe and the Terrence Higgins Trust are also coming into City Hall to promote their services and offer rapid testing.

On Saturday 30th November at an event in the Watershed, the Mayor will be signing the declaration for Bristol to become a Fast Track City. This is a global initiative which aims to improve the local response to HIV & AIDS by achieving the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) 90-90-90 targets by 2020. This is an important step in our mission to stop deaths related to HIV and AIDS, end new infections, and eliminate stigma for people living with HIV in our city.

Becoming a living wage city requires business leaders to step up

Ines Lage, South West TUC. © Jess Hurd

Today’s blog comes from Ines Lage of the Trade Union Congress (TUC)

Today is the culmination of Living Wage Week – a time to praise good businesses and employers who voluntarily agree to pay all their directly and indirectly employed staff at least the real living wage.

Unlike the national minimum wage, this hourly rate (currently set at £9.30) is independently calculated by the Living Wage Foundation to recognise the true cost of living.

More than 70 businesses in Bristol are now accredited, including Bristol City Council, meaning more than 19,000 employees in the city work for an employer who recognises a decent living wage as a key part of their employment responsibilities. 

Unfortunately, there are still 33,000 jobs in the city paid below the living wage. And unless more businesses get on board, Bristol’s image of a tale of two cities will not go away.

Nationally, very little has been done to tackle the rise of in-work poverty. Piecemeal increases to the legal minimum wage rates alongside a decade of decreasing real-terms wages, low productivity, funding cuts and limited national investment into the regions has meant that Bristol, like many cities across the country, has seen more working households struggling to make ends meet.   

In the last year alone, Bristol handed out over 50,000 meals to poor families and children.  And average household debt has soared as more people turn to credit to cover basic household bills. 

You are now more likely to be in poverty and in work than poor and jobless.

So it was inspiring to hear the Mayor of Bristol set a challenge to the many city leaders involved in the One City Plan to become real living wage employers.

Not just because of the economic benefits it would have for the business and for Bristol, but because “it speaks to the values of who we are as a city and who we want to be in the future”.  

Tackling entrenched inequality in some of Bristol’s poorest areas was one of the driving forces for Bristol’s ‘One City Plan’ – and it’s what brought so many of Bristol’s business leaders together to achieve this innovative approach to city-wide leadership.

However, true leadership means recognising that we each have a role to play in achieving the set of standards we want to see in the places we live and work.

As city leaders sit down to co-create an inclusive and sustainable Bristol, it would be good to see some self-reflection from each leader about their own employment standards and practices.

True, many will probably be paying their directly employed staff well above the real living wage. But what we’ve found is that it’s often those employed through third-party suppliers or contractors, such as cleaners, security and reception staff, whose wages too often fall below living-wage standards.

As the federation of trade unions, the TUC knows all too well how good quality jobs that pay a decent wage can tackle deep-rooted inequality and bring people out of poverty. A decent job ensures that more people can fulfil their potential, secure a decent start in life for their children, and maintain a stable home and standard of living. And for businesses it creates a loyal, healthy and happy workforce.

If Bristol’s health trusts and school academies, transport companies, sports clubs and leading tech and finance firms all signed up to be living wage employers, we’d be well on the way to achieving the social justice we want to see in the city.

Bristol deserves a pay rise – working together, we can deliver it.

World Diabetes Day

Today is World Diabetes Day, a global campaign to raise the profile of the condition, which is expected to affect more than four million people in the UK by 2025.

We are facing a huge increase in the number of people with diabetes, partly because of our ageing population, but also because of rising numbers people who are overweight and obese. In Bristol, as nationally, numbers continue to rise, but one in two people with diabetes don’t know they have it. This has to change.

Many people are unaware that risk of type 2 diabetes is linked to ethnicity. Type 2 diabetes is up to six times more common in people of South Asian descent and up to three times more common among people of African and African-Caribbean origin.

As a diverse city, we need to come together to support all communities, enabling them to take preventative action and manage the condition if they are diagnosed.

Diabetes is a serious condition, but the good news is that the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and of complications for those with the condition, can be reduced with simple lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight and increasing physical activity.

As a city, we are taking action. Bristol was one of the first places to achieve Sugar Smart City status two years ago, and the Council has since been running the Bristol Eating Better Awards to help local restaurants and takeaway to offer healthier options. We’re also looking to increase the exclusion zone around schools and youth clubs for new fast food places through the review of the Local Plan.

There are a number of organisations doing fantastic work across Bristol to offer much-needed services to people with diabetes and their carers. One such organisation is Bristol Community Health, who recognise that language barriers can prevent people from BAME communities from accessing care. That’s why they work with Health Link translators to reach those groups most as risk. Diabetes UK is another, with a local network of support groups in different parts of the city who meet monthly to learn more about the condition, share experiences and support one another.

This World Diabetes Day, we want you to join us in taking action. The first step to preventing type 2 diabetes is knowing your risk, and I want to encourage more people to find out theirs using the International Diabetes Federation’s online interactive tool.

For more information on the symptoms of diabetes and what to do if you think you might have the condition, visit the NHS website.

By working together we can close the gaps between rich and poor in Bristol, address health inequalities experienced by different communities and make sure everyone can enjoy and experience life to the fullest.

Mental health in the workplace: it’s time to take action

Today’s guest blog is from the Deputy Mayor, Councillor Asher Craig, who is responsible for communities, equalities and public health.

Talking about mental health was once completely taboo. Thanks to the work of a lot of people over the past few years, that’s beginning to change. But there is still more to be done.  

Mental wellbeing is a key focus for the One City approach; the overarching goal for wellbeing in the One City Plan is that by 2050 everyone in Bristol will have the opportunity to live a life in which they are mentally and physically healthy. For this to happen, we need a city-wide effort made up of individuals, organisations and sectors across Bristol joining forces to help everyone have good mental health. That’s why I was delighted to join employers from Bristol’s businesses, public and voluntary sector at this week’s Thriving at Work conference.

Thriving at Work is part of a ten year programme, Thrive Bristol, developed to improve everyone’s mental health and wellbeing, as well as interventions for people experiencing mental illness. The key focus for today’s event was sharing the next phase of the Thriving at Work Bristol programme where local organisations, including Bristol City Council, will be putting in place new support to improve the mental health and wellbeing of their employees.

We will be testing what works, learning together and then looking to scale up the interventions which have the best results across the city and region. We think this is a first nationally, and we are delighted that partners have been so keen to get involved. Deloitte, Hargreaves Lansdown and OVO Energy are chairing the programme which will offer more support for local companies to make improvements in their workplaces. This in turn could have a meaningful impact on the wellbeing of thousands of employees across our city.

The event also saw the launch of our Thriving at Work Bristol report – the product of over a year’s collaboration from 25 local organisations. In the report, they shared what they have learned about the best practice in place locally, as well as the challenges these organisations have encountered when trying to improve employee mental health and wellbeing.

And I’m thrilled that Bristol is the first city to make the Mental Health at Work Commitment. It is linked with the national Thriving at Work Leadership Council, the Department of Work and Pensions, the Department of Health and Social Care, and mental health charity Mind. This commitment provides a simple framework with six standards businesses and organisations can follow to help employees thrive at work. Locally, a range of employers are making the commitment – from large companies like Burges Salmon to smaller organisations like Windmill Hill City Farm. And we are inviting every employer in Bristol to get involved and make the pledge.

For more information about Thrive Bristol and to read the Thriving at Work Bristol report visit: https://www.bristol.gov.uk/mayor/thrive-bristol

The Thriving at Work Bristol initiative focuses on improving mental health and wellbeing across our workplaces. It builds upon the independent review of mental health and employers that was published by Mind CEO Paul Farmer and Lord Stevenson[1] in 2017, and seeks to implement the six mental health core standards set out in their report across local workplaces.

For information on the Mental Health at Work Commitment and to join, visit: www.mentalhealthatwork.org.uk/committment


[1] Stevenson D, Farmer P (2017), Thriving at Work The Stevenson /Farmer review of mental health and employers. Available at: http://www.gov.uk/government/publications/thriving-at-work-a-review-of-mental-health-and-employers

Taxi Conference 2019

Today’s guest blog is written by Cllr Ruth Pickersgill, Chair of the council’s Public Safety Committee.

On Wednesday, taxi drivers and operators and city partners from across Bristol came together for Bristol’s third taxi conference at City Hall, chaired by Alex Raikes of SARI (Stand Against Racism and Inequality).

As Chair of the Public Safety Committee and the Taxi Forum, I regularly meet with drivers and understand the huge barriers and frustrations they face in this economic climate and with many national out-of-date regulations. Drivers were really pleased to hear directly from the Mayor, Marvin Rees, that he is committed to supporting them, and the clear message from all speakers was that we must work collaboratively to develop a taxi system that is a safe and accessible part of our public transport network, and contributes to our ambitious targets for improving air quality.

I was pleased to be able to outline some of the progress made since the last conference on refurbishing and improving the signage on existing ranks, as well as introducing a new ‘super rank’ on the Centre, and starting the process to establish new ranks in key areas suggested by the Trade.  We have also improved the licensing regime to make the team more accessible to drivers with queries, and have reduced the average waiting times for licenses to 7 days for new drivers and less for renewals. Drivers are pleased that communication has improved and they now get regular newsletters and WhatsApp messages from the ‘Taxi Cop’, and they appreciate his vigilance in dealing with illegal activity. They also really appreciated the support of SARI who support drivers who suffer hate crime or discrimination.

Following the announcement the day before of our proposals for a Clean Air Zone in Bristol, ahead of Cabinet on 5 November, the drivers raised important questions over how this would affect the trade. Marvin reassured drivers and operators that as long as their vehicles are Euro 6 diesel or Euro 4 petrol standard and above, which our licensing policies have already moved them towards, they would not be charged to enter the Clean Air Zone. Any non-compliant taxis would be liable for the £9 daily charge to enter the zone. Taxis are not affected by the proposed diesel ban area. They will be able to operate as usual within the proposed zone. They are recognised as an essential element of public transport, particularly for older and disabled people without cars, and we are committed to continuing to work with the taxi trade as we look at the detail of the plans.

Questions were asked by the first Hackney Carriage driver with an electric vehicles about the charging infrastructure. Cllr Kye Dudd, our cabinet member for transport, reiterated our commitment to social as well as environmental justice – meaning we’re making  switch to ultra-low emission vehicles as accessible and achievable as possible. We have recently secured more than £300,000 to install four rapid charging units near the M32, and are offering subsidies of up to £3,500 for drivers who wish to retrofit their vehicles. There is still work to be done and we hope to take learning from other cities on how we can improve our electric vehicle offer to the taxi trade.

Another key discussion point was the issue of cross-local authority border licensing, and the fact that the number of private hire vehicles licensed in South Gloucestershire, for example, has gone up 305% in 3 years. I was able to talk about the recommendations of a national Task and Finish Group, chaired Professor Mohammed Abdel-Haq, which recommends that all journeys should start and/or finish in the area they are licensed, and also for the introduction of national minimum standards for licensing which, if adopted by the Government, would address the most pressing concerns of the Trade. I urged them to keep lobbying MPs, as I often do, to get these issues tackled quickly by bringing in the legislative changes we need.

I am passionate about the rights of drivers to make a decent living and to have reasonable working conditions, and want to work with them to address some of the barriers they face. I am also proud of the high standards we have in Bristol for safeguarding passengers through rigorous checking and training of drivers and vehicles, and of the key role our drivers play in keeping people safe (particularly in the night time economy). We won’t let our standards drop, but have to continue to press the Government to act to ensure others are forced to improve theirs.

World Cities Day

Today is United Nation’s World Cities Day. This year’s title is “Changing the world: innovations and better life for future generations” focusing on the role digital technologies play in enhancing the quality of life, the environment, and promoting social inclusion.

Innovation is a key theme of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  Cities are proving to be laboratories for SDGs innovation, showing how these goals are being turned in to real action locally in cities irrespective of delays and barriers at the national and international level. Bristol has been actively adopting the UN Sustainable Development Goals since 2016. Along with New York and Helsinki, Bristol was one of the first cities across the globe to carry out a review of how it is delivering on all 17 of the Sustainable  Development Goals locally (Bristol Voluntary Local review), with goals ranging from tackling climate change, poverty and reducing inequality. In September, our city was one of the first cities to sign the Voluntary Local Review declaration.

This year Bristol was one of six European Cities to win the European Capital of Innovation funding bid for its ‘One City’ approach which brings together a huge range of public, private, voluntary and third sector partners with the shared aim to make Bristol a fair, healthy and sustainable city.  An example of a One City project is Period Friendly Bristol, a city-wide project to end period poverty ensuring that everyone has access to sanitary products through a dedicated digital app and to drive a more mature conversation about period dignity.

Last month, Bristol publically launched its ‘Connected City’ strategy which sets out the city’s ambitions for laying the digital foundations that will help the city achieve its ambitions and ensure that citizens feel they are contributing to, and benefit from the social and economic advantages of digital technology. The strategy will ensure that technology is driven by city challenges important to citizens; that we have high quality, secure and reliable digital connectivity; involve communities and individual entrepreneurs as well as the public sector institutions and ensure that we do not lose sight of the social benefit an public good brought about by technology and innovation.

It has been said that the Sustainable Development Goals will be lost or won in cities. We will be actively using innovation, working with partners locally and globally, to ensure we successfully implement the sustainable development goals and ensure that no-one in Bristol is left behind.

Lessons from the Women’s Homelessness Roundtable

Today’s blog comes from Penny Walster, hub manager at Shelter Bristol.

We at Shelter are only too keenly aware of how women are particularly vulnerable to abuse when battling homelessness. The deep and lasting trauma of being homeless is yet another hurdle to add to an already long list of barriers that many women need to overcome, in order to move on with their lives after a period of having no permanent home to call their own.

These barriers were the focus of a partnership event organised by Shelter together with St Mungos, Next Link, Missing Link, Safe Link, One25, DHI and many other specialist women’s support organisations.

Mayor Rees joined us to hear from women about the issues they are facing.

By bringing together women using those services, together with local politicians and professionals, we are looking to address those barriers for homeless women in Bristol. This roundtable event was the first step to realise our joint ambition to properly amplify the voices of homeless women in our city; working together to overcome the barriers that prevent women from moving on to stable homes.

“I moved from the street to living in a hostel with people I didn’t know, I wanted to feel safer than when I was on the street, but I didn’t.”

It was clear from the personal testimonies that we heard, that moving into accommodation does not by itself address the effects of poor mental health, substance misuse, past abuse and trauma that many women have experienced as part of being homeless. Many of the women we heard from talked about adjusting to changes at the same time as coping with ongoing mental and physical health conditions. It was clear that bringing together supportive groups of women can work wonders to help with the transition from living on the streets to living in settled and permanent accommodation. Our task now is to increase these networks and support groups, by working together to create safe spaces for them to grow.

“I was really nervous about coming along today but I’m glad I did, I just wish there was a way my friend could have come too.”

Many of the women at the event wanted to make sure that they and others they knew could contribute to the planning and actions sparked by our conversation. Lack of childcare options, problems getting to work, and keeping multiple appointments with housing offices, advice services and others were just some of the barriers that often prevent women’s voices and experiences from being heard. Through this roundtable and its follow up actions, we are looking forward over the next year to amplifying the voices of homeless women across Bristol.

“I’m waiting to move into my forever home, I feel nervous and excited… it feels like a second chance, but I know I couldn’t have made it without support.”

This need for joint support and better partnerships came across from all the groups at the event. We know that the housing crisis has dramatically increased the numbers of homeless people since 2010. As a result of all these groups coming together, we’re motivated to keep the momentum going, and to keep highlighting and overcoming the barriers that homeless women face.

To learn more about Shelter Bristol and their services, visit their webpage here.