Get Involved with the Cities of Service programme in Bristol

Published on by Emma Thompson, Volunteer Manager, Bristol 2015.

We recently heard about a new scheme coming to the UK from New York called Cities of Service and thought that it would be of interest to Go Green members looking to improve offerings for their Happy & Healthy actions in their Go Green Action Plan; hear from the Bristol Cities of Service team below and find out how you can get involved.

What Is Cities of Service and Why Should You Care?

Created by New York’s Mayor Bloomberg, Cities of Service programmes are now working with citizens and agencies all across America to determine what needs to be done to improve life in the city and then build or support local projects to achieve those goals. They often aim to fund these projects through local businesses. Little Rock‘s ‘Love Your School’ initiative resulted in 3000 families and students learning about exercise, growing gardens and healthy cooking and over 300 raised beds being created to grow food for schools.

A key goal of Cities of Service is to create a city of active citizens: people who commit to making their own community and city better by taking personal action.

Bloomberg Philanthropies were considering ways to ship the concept abroad when Bristol Mayor George Ferguson visited the States. Now through the Cabinet, NESTA and Bloomberg Philanthropies Bristol is in its second year as one of seven UK cities to pilot the idea. The UK Cities of Service are Barnsley, Bristol, Kirklees, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Swindon and Telford & Wrekin.

Bristol Opportunities

The Bristol Cities of Service team is run by Chief Service Officer Dominic Murphy who has spent 30 years working in and supporting the community in Bristol. Bristol Reading Partners (BRP) is a major project for the team, part of which involves bringing together different organisations, such as Ablaze, RSVP West (Retired and Senior Volunteers Programme) and our two universities, to create a more strategic, citywide, data-based approach to volunteering in schools.

The team has focused on the south of the city with over 75 volunteers in 17 primary schools and over 110 children helped so far. Volunteers have two days of training on the Boosting Reading at Primary Programme, they then work one-to-one with children to help them develop confidence, understanding and a joy of reading over a 10-week programme.

Research by Save the Children shows that children confident in reading before age 11 do considerably better in school and later life than those struggling by this age. Our volunteers feel that they are really making a difference and hope that the volunteering they do now will increase the prospects and opportunities in life for the children they work with.

A key work stream of Cities of Service in Bristol is bringing initiatives together. Dominic and his team find ways to connect and support organisations and initiatives in the city, thus increasing their impact. Bristol Aging Better is one such initiative which is bringing together organisations and services across the city to reduce isolation and improve life for older people in Bristol. We are also working with the Green Capital Partnership to create a green strand to the programme.

We are always looking for more volunteers, check out our free city-wide volunteering website for opportunities volunteerteam.bristol.gov.uk, or get in touch to find out some corporate friendly volunteering opportunities across the city.

Find volunteering opportunities for you!

The Cities of Service team are always looking for more volunteers, check out the free city-wide volunteering website for opportunities volunteerteam.bristol.gov.uk

Or get in touch to find out some corporate friendly volunteering opportunities across the city.