We are nearly 13 years old. The website all started with a small website for Hillfields back in Spring 2008, the website was created which today would be very much out of date in terms of the technology used but the content would be similar. 10,000 flyers were used to promote the new website in 2008 and 6000 were posted through letterboxes and stored in various outlets and within days people were sharing their interest.
Having served Hillfields for over 20 years by initially helping to save all the council houses from being given to private ownership which will have left tenants vulnerable to capitalism we ran a Tenants Association which saved them all and today in 2020 council owned housing is seen as the best option so it’s lucky we did all that work from 1988. I later served for 15 years as a youth leader in Hillfields and the community of North East Bristol in the youth district team but by 2008 wanted to do something a bit different.
In 2009 the website also covered Frome Vale (mainly Oldbury Court) as the neighbour to Hillfields Estate so the natural route especially as the community and youth centre was also at risk of being lost forever there which thrived in the 1980s and 90s. In 2010 the website grew to include Eastville after the creation of the Greater Fishponds Neighbourhood Partnership by Spring 2010. This new alternative parish council for Greater Fishponds worked well; suddenly there was a real local decision making function for the area and money to invest in 100s of projects, money to renew the parks and reach people and groups who had never been reached before, this new set up by the Liberal Democrats was amazing. Never in the history of Hillfields and Frome Vale had anything like this ever existed before. The website was a fantastic way to reach as many orgs as possible for them to get involved ranging from retirement clubs to rugby clubs and everyone in between and to finally get things done for the area and attract new retailers to go in to empty shops such as Coffee One, Sainsburys, Iceland and Dominos Pizza and more opened in Fishponds after including the website in emails to them to show the potential and customer base of the area.
In Spring 2011 three of us set up the Hillfields Community Trust with the aim to save and develop Hillfields Library, Hillfields Youth Hub, Community Centre land for new housing and mixed use venue and deliver community activities in venues including the new Cossham Hospital Community Room. We delivered huge fun days for Hillfields between 2011 and 2015 including a Diamond Jubilee Event with amazing help from members of the community and Julie (rip) of Community Resolve, £700 funding by Neighbourhood Partnerships, huge support by Abdul Razak Dahir and Denis Wise of Neighbourhoods and Lindsay Wall of Housing.
Abdul Razak also asked HCT to please apply for and manage Hillfields Community First Funding of £38,000 over four years which we did to help every corner of the ward and we attended meetings where £30,000 in grants (£10,000 per ward every year was available) to help allocated money to all groups applying for funds. Empowerment to the three wards made it possible for so much to be achieved between 2010 and 2016 after the first elected Mayor George Ferguson kept and made Neighbourhood Partnerships even better.
In 2015 with Cllr Lesley Alexander I helped found retirement clubs after realising there was a desperate situation of loneliness in the Begbrook area of Stapleton and Frenchay and community rooms built in the late 1970s to serve the local elderly community were available on some days but over time this had been forgotten but not by lifetime community activists such as Maureen and Brian Coles who knew that the rooms were for everyone in the wider community and were extremely popular while warden controlled. In 2017 Lesley Alexander was made Lord Mayor of Bristol and wished to roll out this model all across Bristol by working with communities across the city after the Begbrook Club was unbelievably successful and by now run by the members themselves. Neighbourhood Partnerships again helped with some initial funding of £1000 to get the group established for coach trips and some equipment and later PCC Sue Mountstevens community grants paid for new kitchen equipment including dishwasher and cooker for the community room for all of the room users in the community to use.