In 2018, Power to Change joined forces with Bristol and Bath Regional Capital, Big Society Capital, and Bristol City Council to create and co-fund a first-of-its-kind blended fund for Bristol.
Now established, Bristol City Funds is a place-based, locally led £10m fund which aims to catalyse sustainable and transformational change in the city. City Funds works collaboratively with the extensive One City initiative, led by the City Mayor.
Areas of focus
The fund supports a range of organisations in Bristol, but has four primary focus areas:
- Health and wellbeing – funding initiatives that contribute to positive health and wellbeing and address health inequalities in Bristol
- Community initiatives – helping them to play an impactful role and develop community resilience. Our contribution was specifically to support community businesses through this strand
- Economic inclusion – funding initiatives that promote full participation and ownership in a diverse and local economy
- Environmental transformation – funding initiatives focussing on a transition to a neutral, zero-waste city
In Bristol, Power to Change was also seen as one of the early supporters of vital causes including tackling racial inequality and empowering marginalised communities. Minoritised communities are typically less likely to access social investment. So we not only invested in community anchors across Bristol but also organisations like Black South West Network, which delivers capacity-building programmes for organisations led by Black and minoritised people.
From funding research through to the two-year action programme that followed, we have been far better able to support Black leadership within key organisations to grow and be recognised as social anchors, able to develop community assets of all kinds in pursuit of sustainability and racial equity. We are far from there yet, but after being in some hinterland – we’ve made a great start thanks to Power to Change.
Over the course of two years, our contribution of £250k to City Funds has been key in unlocking £5m cash investment from Bristol City Council plus a further £5m in assets, and £5m from Big Society Capital. So far, £500,000 has been distributed in grants. And £2.4 million worth of impact investments distributed or committed to (as part of the wider Bristol City Funds scheme).
The £10 million investment fund and aligned grants are strengthening organisations solving some of the biggest problems facing Bristol. One such community business is Ambition Lawrence Weston, which received investment from Bristol City Funds to build England’s largest onshore wind turbine. The loan, combined with match funding by Power to Change, has provided the capital for this project to move on to the construction phase. Once completed, the 100% community owned wind turbine will be capable of generating enough power for close to 3,000 homes in Bristol.
More on our work in Bristol
In 2021, Black South West Network launched the final report of a 9-month city-wide research project exploring the response of Bristol’s Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sector to the pandemic and the potential of the sector in the city moving forward.
Since 1911, Barton Hill Settlement – now Wellspring Settlement since merging with Wellspring Healthy Living Centre in 2020 – has operated as a vital community resource centre. It provides a vast range of services, from family and employment support to community inclusion.