Bristol Service Plan
Cities of Service will seek to mobilise the great wealth of commitment that exists in Bristol, to address some of our most pressing citywide issues through volunteering and active citizenship.
As a first step in our long term strategy for volunteering, we have identified two major priorities for action – reading amongst some of our most deprived children and reducing social isolation amongst older residents who have lost a loved one.
Reading is both a necessity and a pleasure...and learning to read is one of the most important skills anyone can acquire. Helping someone to learn to read is probably one of the greatest contributions you can make to a person’s life chances. Some of our children are in particular need of help early on to ensure that their reading skills are properly developed and that they do not fall behind in their education.
As a result the first new initiative in this plan is asking people to provide volunteer support to teachers and other staff in schools where children need an extra bit of help, to make sure that all our children learn to read well and to love reading for the rest of their lives. Trained volunteers will assist teachers in delivering extra reading to those children who need it.
Loneliness and isolation has become a part of the lives of many of our older people and evidence shows that it is more likely to occur following bereavement. As people live longer and extended families disperse, if we don’t take action, this is likely to affect more and more people in our city resulting in a loss of confidence, depression and a range of associated health problems. Not only would this increase the pressure on our health services but it would be a terrible waste of human potential – everyone has something to give no matter what age they are, and nobody needs to be left on their own. We want to test the theory that the people most likely to be able to help older bereaved people combat loneliness and isolation are our very own elder citizens.
Befriending an older person who is at risk isolation through bereavement is not only an act of kindness but is also about making sure we value everyone. We will be working with Bristol Aging Better to ensure that older citizens are supported and connected more.
Both these initiatives are ongoing and will require the commitment of local people to give their time to make sure we can meet the challenges posed.
As part of Bristol's year as European Green Capital we undertook a study of green organisations who use volunteers in Bristol to understand how they were doing and to determine what would be the most effective way to support them in the future.