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"How do we keep Bristol, Bristol?" Was one of the questions posed at our recent panel event focusing on Scaling Up Inclusively, organised in partnership with Engine Shed.

Bristol is the only city to be case studied in the RSA’s Inclusive Growth report that launched this week, where they mention the newly set up Bristol City Office, so our event was particularly timely. 

The panel who initiated the discussion was made up of Charlotte Alldritt (RSA’s Director of Public Services and Communities), Marvin Rees (Mayor of Bristol), Helen Simpson (Professor of Economics), Irene Graham (CEO ScaleUp Institute), Chris Houghton (Managing Director of OVO Energy). 

The whole event was filmed, so if you missed it check out the video here and the Director of the Engine Shed, Nick Sturge has also blogged about the event.

The RSA report sets out our framework and recommendations for achieving inclusive growth, where as many people as possible are able to contribute to and benefit from the economy.  Keeping inclusivity at the heart of how an economy grows.

At the event the discussion focused around practical ways of making this happen in Bristol, Marvin highlighted that although Bristol has a good “game face” there are still challenges in taking the inclusive agenda forward, he specifically listed three challenges facing Bristol;

1)      Existence of prejudice and discrimination

2)      Small group of people employing same people within their tight social networks

3)      Physical connectivity and access, in particular the problems around transport access in Bristol

Going forward he said we need to equip people with tools to navigate the economy, focus on education and skills and in particular mental health resilience.

Helen Simpson suggested one way to get particular groups into employment could be specific targeted initiatives; with examples from the US being introducing hiring credits for firms if they hire people from specific areas.  This can lead to a snowball effect for the economy becoming inclusive.

One of the challenges for OVO was the numbers of technicians and digital app builders which led to a satellite office being set up in London, how could this be addressed in the local jobs market?

Charlotte closed the event by imploring us to keep Bristol, Bristol.  And says that Bristol, with its initiatives like the new City Office “is an inspiring example of how people can come together to transform their place, finding new ways to tackle problems that have often been around for a long time. The City Office is already showing how it can bring new ideas and new resources to the table, and convene a different type of conversation that moves beyond ‘what can local government or the mayor do’ to ‘how can we work together to achieve a shared vision for our city’? With the energy of residents, business and civil society in Bristol, I’m excited about the future of this new ‘whole-place’ style of local leadership.” 

If you would be interested in organising a RSA Fellow event focused on taking up this conversation, then see here for details of how to organise one, or please contact me.

Lou Matter (lou.matter@rsa.org.uk)

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