Mayoral check-in: Revisiting Marvin Rees' pledges to the VCSE sector

Image Credit: 
5 April, 2022


Before last year's elections, Voscur offered candidates for the position of Bristol Mayor the opportunity to make a series of pledges to the VCSE sector. You can read what each candidate had to say here. 

It was agreed at the time that Voscur would then check-in with the successful candidate one year into their term, allowing the Mayor to delineate their adherence to the pledges. 

Here we publish, in full, the response received by Mayor Marvin Rees at our recent request for an update.

Pledge 1: I will champion the contribution of the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector

The VCSE sector has been central to our city’s resilience over the past year, and continues to support our communities as we recover from the pandemic, and face new challenges in the forms of international conflict and the rising cost of living. I pay tribute to the energy and expertise of all those working in the VCSE sector and we continue to invest in the sector. In February, cabinet agreed to invest £4m as part of our Community Resilience Fund to support the recover and sustainability of the sector, and we have invested £5.8m in organisations through the second round of the Bristol Impact Fund.

Pledge 2: I will work with the VCSE sector to provide solutions to long standing inequalities, including the digital divide, isolation, mental health, affordable housing and unemployment.

In my State of the City speech last October, I highlighted how crucial it is to reduce inequalities in the city – particularly as we recover from Covid-19. Covid hit our city’s marginalised communities hardest, and it is those communities that are most exposed to the negative effects of the economic restructuring that has come in its wake. A strong and resilient VCSE sector has been – and will continue to be – central to our efforts to overturn those entrenched inequalities.

From championing community-led housing projects, to assisting local community organisations to develop Community Climate Action Plans, we have we’ve sought to enable and support VCSE organisations to partner with us to tackle the urgent challenges the city faces.

Pledge 3: I will support the voluntary sector and ensure fair opportunities for small and large organisations in influencing service design, commissioning and procurement and service delivery.

We remain committed to the objectives set out in our Social Value Policy to ensure that we as a council are using our purchasing and procurement powers to maximise the benefits for Bristol’s communities, and to continue to support our VCSE sector. We were proud to work with VOSCUR to develop the Social Value Toolkit to encourage local businesses to measure their social value. We continue to work constructively with voluntary, community and social enterprise partners when consulting on service delivery and new commissioning opportunities.

We have also brought forward our Ethical and Equitable Investment policy this year to set out positive criteria for assessing council investments in terms of their direct, positive, local, social and/or environmental impact.

Pledge 4: I will support measures to improve the lives of young people, ensuring equal access to education, job opportunities and mental health support.

We continue to champion the Bristol WORKS programme, which has provided over 12,000 quality experiences of work for young people. We have also worked with partners across the city to develop the Strive Internship Programme, providing paid internships for young people in the West of England. And on mental health we continue to work with partners in the VCSE sector (as well as the NHS) to commission mental health support services specifically for young people.

Pledge 5: I will support measures to address climate change, for instance through the One City Climate Strategy.

Bristol is leading the way in terms of delivering the scale and pace of change we need to see to decarbonise our city and make Bristol climate resilient. Working directly with communities to co-produce our plans to tackle climate change is vital if we’re to ensure this is a just transition which does not leave communities behind. That’s why we’ve not only brought together community organisations to lead on Community Climate Action Plans, but we have also supported community and voluntary groups to deliver their own projects to combat climate change, such as the community-owned wind turbine in Lawrence Weston.