Bristol is fortunate to have a strong range of community organisations working across many geographic communities as well as communities of interest in Bristol. Christians are often involved in their communities as residents, through their church and often through a number of other community groups.

The challenge

Bristol is a diverse city. This is sometimes a bad thing; for example, average life expectancy ranges by 9.4 years across different communities in the city.  

This inequality has traditionally been addressed through many community groups, including the church as well as statutory services, often working in isolation and often funded by grants/the state. This funding has reduced dramatically in recent years.  

The community groups that survive in the new funding climate need to be financially sustainable, locally rooted and well connected. Many services are looking to place a greater emphasis on attracting volunteers.

The response

The 34 wards in Bristol each have a local Neighbourhood Forum meeting termly to address local needs. The wards are grouped together into 14 Neighbourhood Partnerships, which is the formal route through which Bristol City Council devolves decision making to communities.

Anyone can attend any of these meetings and raise any concerns or ideas they have for improving their communities. The Neighbourhood Partnerships have a small pot of ‘wellbeing funding’ for local activities.

There are estimated to be over 1600 voluntary sector community groups in Bristol. The largest umbrella body for these is Voscur with a mission to support, develop and represent Bristol's voluntary and community sector.

Most geographic communities have a local village hall or neighbourhood trust, some have a city farm. The larger geographically based community groups in our city include: Ambition Lawrence Weston, Southmead Development Trust, Lockleaze Neighbourhood Trust, Barton Hill Settlement, up our street, Wellspring Healthy Living Centre, Knowle west Health Park, and The Park Knowle (but there are many others across all communites in the city).

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