January 2021: News from the Mayor

January 08 2021

Each month Bristol mayor Marvin Rees shares his views with Henleaze & Westbury Voice

Happy New Year! 2020 has tested our city’s resilience and I am still humbled by the outpouring of community support that residents of Bristol showed each other during what was an extraordinarily difficult year. So I would like to wish all of Bristol’s residents a happier, healthy and hopeful 2021.
As the Covid-19 vaccine is rolled out across Bristol, we start the year with optimism. But that doesn’t mean that this year is a clean slate. The virus is still with us and the damage that it has inflicted on our community, our mental health and on our economy requires continued and sustained effort for us to build back better, greener and more inclusive than we were before.
One way that we can support our community this year as we recover from the pandemic is to buy locally and support our local high streets whenever we can. Our already struggling high streets were dealt a further blow as people’s shopping habits changed. Our challenge is to reimagine our high streets and transform them into community hubs as well as shopping centres. As part of the Love Our High streets pilot we’ve been allocated £275,000, which we’ve used on improving East Street in Bedminster and will look to roll out across as many of our 47 local highstreets as we can. With further investment and our collective support we can breathe new life into our high streets, supporting an inclusive economy.
Another issue we know is troubling Bristol’s families is employment. Our economy lost at least 8,000 jobs last year and our retail, hospitality, aviation and creative sectors were hit particularly hard. The job contraction and reduced opportunities left many, especially our young people, feeling deeply worried for their future. Our city risks a pandemic legacy that increases inequality if we don’t act to combat it.
One of the ways we are providing opportunities to young people in Bristol is through our engagement with the Kickstart scheme. This government-funded programme offers six-month work placements to 16-24-year-olds on Universal Credit. At the time of writing we have received applications for 136 potential placements across the city and we are expecting to see our first placements start this January. They will be working in a variety of industries in Bristol, including creative, digital, marketing and hospitality sectors. If you’re an employer who would like to improve your business and take on young and enthusiastic staff you can find more information through our website: bristol.gov.uk/business-support-advice/guide-to-the-bristol-kickstart-scheme.  
Bristol City Council is setting an example for the city by offering a range of Kickstart placements, apprenticeships and internships that pay the Real Living Wage. Our young people missed out on a lot last year; let’s make up for that with jobs and opportunities this year.
So here’s to a happy new year, an inclusive economic recovery and a hopeful future for everybody in Bristol.