Social investment is helping Bristol #BuildBackBetter

Image Credit: 
City Funds
2 March, 2021


As we begin to think about emerging from the worst of the pandemic, economic recovery is high on the agenda - alongside tackling entrenched inequalities. According to ONS figures, the UK economy was hit by a record slump in 2020 with GDP shrinking 9.9%. However, the challenge is equally an opportunity—with such a dramatic shock to the system, can we think about rebuilding in a fairer and more equal way?

Social enterprises are at the centre of this opportunity. Those using enterprise to create positive social and environmental impact have both the experience and vision necessary to help. To maximise their role, Bristol needs a thriving social economy with the relationships, expertise and money to succeed.

As part of this Build Back Better approach, City Funds committed over £2.4 million to the local social economy in 2020. Their impact report, released last month, reveals key investments that are creating economic, community and environmental resilience in Bristol as a response to COVID-19.

“As an impact investor, we’ve seen how the ongoing pandemic has disproportionately affected those living in the context of long-term economic, social, and environmental inequality,” said Andy Street, Chair of City Funds.

“This has highlighted more clearly than ever the need for a local and democratic approach to finance that is targeted and effective.”

City Funds uses a coordinated, place-based approach to investing, bringing together loan and equity investment typically from £100k to £1m, targeted, smaller grants and local collaborations, including the Local Access Partnership (in which Voscur works alongside City Funds) rolling out this spring. By utilising multiple partnerships, City Funds strengthens Bristol-based initiatives that otherwise may be unlikely to secure the finance they need.

Some of the organisations using investment to create impact in Bristol include:

  • Ambition Community Energy to plan for a 4.2Mw wind turbine which will create cash surpluses to address community challenges in Lawrence Weston,
  • Talking Money to rebuild and grow their support for individuals caught in the cycle of indebtedness,
  • Wellspring Settlement to purchase The Swan Pub in Barton Hill and create new community space and affordable housing, and
  • Frank Water to expand their sustainable water operations and implement a water action programme in Bristol schools.

City Funds first annual impact report is a great summary of the ways they have been shaping investment to meet the needs of community. For updates on City Funds investments, including information and insights on how impact investment is helping Bristol #BuildBackBetter, sign up to the City Funds mailing list.