2017 was an exciting year for Bristol as a European City of Sport. Sport and physical activity achieved a higher profile both within our communities and at political level. Key highlights included the radio and broadcasting sector getting involved with community radio shows and the production of various small films, the development of a new sporting website for the city and social media pages.

Events encouraged community clubs to offer free taster sessions and the ‘Are You Game?’ campaign aimed to inspire people to ‘try something new’. The year culminated in the establishment of a new highly successful 5k parkrun at Eastville Park, a Bristol 2k Challenge working with junior parkrun and our conference: The Role of Sport and Physical Activity in Modern Society. We felt that the year started to initiate a conversation between physical activity providers around the city which we hope to capitalise on in future years.

The year was very much a partnership with many external organisations and also strong team working between Internal Council Departments including PR, Communications and Marketing, Sport & Physical Activity and other Public Health teams. We would like to thank each and every person for their passion, drive and energy in raising the profile of sport and physical activity in the city and increasing opportunities for Bristol citizens to take part, discover and enjoy.

The year in quarters:

January to March 2017

The first part of Bristol’s European City of Sport year involved planning the year and it’s overall aim, generating an awareness of the title and encouraging organisations to come together to promote opportunities available in Bristol.

The main consensus was that there are a lot of opportunities available across Bristol for people to be active. However, physical activity participation is not equal across cultural and demographic groupings. There are still a large number of people who need to become active and many more who do some activity but doing more would benefit their physical and mental health. The consensus was that the aim of the year was to increase the awareness of physical activity opportunities at all levels and abilities and to encourage people to try something, recognise that being active has many benefits for a good quality life and talk more about being active.

This started the creation of:

Community physical activity directory – Sport England insight suggests that people starting to get active are more likely to get involved if the activity is within one mile from their home. The directory aims to provide information of physical activity provision locally, these are recreational activities such as Zumba, Yoga, etc. As Bristol has not had a directory like this before it is a growing data set that we hope organisations will continue to contribute to as the word gets spread. It aims to provide information which will help to break down some of the barriers around accessing activity.

Sports club directory – this directory provides information on formalised clubs mainly catering for those who already know which activity they would like to get involved in and are looking at which opportunities are available within the area. Again this is an evolving directory as clubs register their information with us, but enables clubs to tell potential participants key information to help them identify which club will best suit them.

Council webpage – initially we published a few pages on the Bristol City Council website explaining about the title, the importance of physical activity and the government physical activity guidelines.

NEW European City of Sport website – the webpages evolved into a more comprehensive website which we hoped would be a good source of information to the public both in 2017 and beyond.

Social Media – Facebook and Twitter – We had European City of Sport pages for both social media platforms and spread the word about activities, events and interesting information, we also shared other organisations’ events by compiling a Facebook event calendar for the year.

Community Launch Event: Eastville Park Family Fun Morning – We chose to launch the year with a community event in one of our local parks bordering some of the less affluent areas of Bristol. Over 500 young people and adults joined in a variety of activities offered for free by local sporting organisations, these included: Junior parkrun, Bristol Storm Basketball Club, Gloucestershire Cricket Club (including the ICC’s Women’s World Cup visit), Bristol Rugby, Bristol Central Football Club, Bristol Rovers Community Foundation, Empire Boxing Club, Bristol & West Athletics Club, Downend and Frenchay Tennis Club, Fit For Sport childrens’ activities, Sport4Life multi-sports.

Official ECoS Baton Handover – Stoke on Trent visited Bristol and officially handed over the ceramic ECoS baton at a local Bristol Vs Gloucester Rugby match.

Mayor’s Sports Gathering 1 and 2 – two meetings invited organisations from across Bristol to come together to discuss key topics around increasing sporting participation for all, improving performance pathways and bringing more high profile sporting events to the city.

April to June 2017

Spring and early Summer involved the roll-out of the ‘Are you Game?’ campaign. We continued to create an awareness of the title and to encourage organisations to come together to promote opportunities available in Bristol.

‘Are You Game?’ campaign – Over 100 different organisations took part in our Summer campaign to offer free tasters and events to encourage local people to try out new activities between May and September. We promoted through Facebook, Twitter, events, posters, wallet cards, water bottles, T shirts, news releases, Flags at community events, and community sports sessions. All information was placed on our website.

Stories, ambassadors and radio shows – We shared some inspirational stories through both radio and Facebook stories: from development of a community family cycling initiative, to a local triathlete going to compete in her first European event as a ‘GB age group athlete’ to a lady who does not let her HIV positive status define her.

‘Are You Game?’ campaign launch – 6th May – We had over 10 different physical activity and sports organisations deliver taster sessions and displays from 12-3pm with over 500 people of all ages taking part in activities from Judo to bowling, to Tennis to BodyJam to Rowing to Basketball.

ECoS Golden tickets to Great Bristol 10k participants – 13 tickets were given to people who were either overcoming challenges ie mental health issues or were new runners within the last year to take part in the Great Bristol Run. 5 set up blogs sharing their journey to the Bristol 10k and most have continued to blog since then. The council’s running initiative Run4Life Bristol held 3 different courses across the city to help people achieve this goal.

Social Media – Facebook and Twitter – We continued to spread as many diverse stories and information through the European City of Sport Facebook and Twitter pages.

Schools Active 60 week – In partnership with Bristol Healthy Schools we invited all schools to take part in spreading the message to children and parents that the recommended CMO guideline is 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day. School pledges included giving children 15 minutes out of curriculum time during the week to do some activities that they had chosen, ie playground games, 1 mile run, skipping, etc., active equipment available to use at break times, giving out 60 minute recording charts so that children could record their own activity levels, etc. The initiative was most popular in Bristol’s special schools.

Mayor’s Sports Gathering 3 – pulled together the previous 2 events and announced the proposal to have 3 city-wide action groups around the themes: Participation, Events and Excellence.

Bristol Girls Can – We were successful in a bid to Sport England for funding to re-ignite the local Bristol Girls Can campaign from June to November.

WalkFest – Bristol held a month of walking in May with a launch walking event on 27th April.

International Women’s World Cup Cricket FanZone – International women’s cricket games were held at the Brighstowe Ground in Bristol. Big Screen Bristol organised a Fan zone with screening of the England Vs Australia match with fun activities

July to September 2017

The third quarter was another busy 3 months with lots of outdoor events and activities.

‘Are You Game?’ campaign – Organisations continued to offer free tasters or free sessions to new participants which were rounded up with the Bristol Half Marathon Activation Zone. There were over 70 organisations offering several hundred free activity opportunities available between May and September.

Bristol Harbour Festival Activation Zone – Five sports clubs and organisations offered free taster activities as part of a ‘sports activation zone’ over a very wet and soggy weekend!!

Bristol Half Marathon Activation Zone – We initially had a lot of enthusiasm from providers for this event, but closer to the date quite a few had scheduling difficulties. However, we had a good variety of organisations present offering Basketball, Korfball, Pickleball, Kettlercise, Indoor Bowls and physiotherapy and acupuncture. We also had information stands from the Bristol Cycle Festival, our main leisure facility provider Everyone Active and a family healthy lifestyle programme: Alive n Kicking.

Cycling Weekend (August) – A Photo exhibition, the Bristol Grand Prix and the Big Bike Ride took place offering a visual display of the Tour of France over the years, a chance for aspiring and elite athletes to race each other across a closed course on the Saturday and a participation ride for all ages through the centre of Bristol on the Sunday.

Golden tickets for Bristol Half Marathon for new runners (September) – We gave 8 free entries to people who had never run a half marathon before, we were able to share their stories across social media to help inspire others. We also ran a half marathon course for beginner/ less-confident runners to help them to achieve their goal.

Sports sessions in the Community – The sports team working with StreetGames and Bristol’s Play/ Youth service supported sports activities in local communities across the Summer including a ‘Fit and Fed’ programme which targets those children from deprived areas where research says that during the holidays children often go hungry and do less physical activity.

Bristol Girls Can activities – As part of the campaign a women’s only Community Sports Leader course targeting the Somalian community was very successfully delivered. There have been several beginners running courses and courses to help people to run the iconic Bristol 10k and Bristol Half Marathon for their first time. BGC also recruited ambassadors to help to inspire everyday people to be active and has been working with sporting organisations to help them to develop a more female friendly angle to their activities and offer taster activities.

October to December 2017

The final quarter of 2017 was another busy 3 months with participation events, challenges and setting up plans for the legacy for Bristol’s European City of Sport year.

First Session Free Legacy – As the legacy of ‘Are You Game?’ we created a ‘Free activities you can try’ section on the website listing those activities which are either free or offered as a First Session Free, and a ‘free events’ listing. We hope to continue to encourage organisations to offer a free trial to new participants to help to encourage people to try out different activities.

Directory – This became totally online – activities are listed under ‘activities near you’ for people who are just interested in getting involved in something close to them and ‘Sports clubs’ for those who have an interest that they would like to pursue.

Bristol 2k Challenge – In November we encouraged school children to run 2k. We teamed up with junior parkrun to promote our 3 local weekly Sunday events and promoted the challenge through schools and social media. Over the 4 Sundays Bristol children covered 2534Km through walking, jogging, running or volunteering.

Bristol Girls Can activities – The launch of the Bristol Girls Can website, new ambassador films and a community ‘Get Inspired’ event targeting women from lower socio-economic areas and other cultures resulted in a very busy October.

Eastville parkrun – November saw the launch of Bristol’s second parkrun, the first was started five years ago and has been a weekly success since, its high numbers gave us an insight that a second parkrun in the city would be popular. The first Eastville parkrun event attracted an incredible 679 finishers (the largest inaugural parkrun event to date) and averaged 371 participants weekly at the following 8 events. It has been a fantastic success with a great team of volunteers and should be a great ongoing legacy for 2017 aiming to attract new starters who may walk the 5k to those who become more committed regular participants.

The dinosaur listens to the briefing


Sport Conference – Over 100 participants attended our conference: The Role of Sport and Physical Activity in Modern Society – a Tool for Transformational Change on 6th December. There were inspirational speakers varying from previous international sporting stars (James Cracknell, Chrissie Wellington) to everyday heroes who are active to help their everyday life be better to community activators who help to change lives through sporting opportunities and mentoring at risk young people.


Bristol Active City – The legacy of Bristol’s year as a European City of Sport

Following the busy and eventful year of 2017 Bristol has many plans in place to continue the legacy of the successful work and partnerships which were both strengthened and evolved over the year.

Website – Aiming to be the first port of call for citizens to find out how to take part in sport and physical activity in the city. Listings include: First Session Free/ Free activity and event listing and a Directory – Activities Near you/ Sport. The website is an ongoing project, new additions will include a ‘Spotlight On…’ feature to help showcase different sports, activities and organisations, to inspire and to help challenge perceived barriers.

Social Media – Bristol Activity City – encouraging the physical activity conversation and for clubs and organisations to share messaging.

parkrun – 5k – weekly free, timed 5ks. The new Eastville event is attracting an average of 384 runners per week plus the volunteer team, despite some very cold and soggy Saturday mornings. We have developed and improved working relationships with parkrun and junior parkrun for future initiatives, ie the Bristol 2k challenge which significantly increased the number of children attending junior parkrun over the month of November.

Bristol Girls Can ongoing promotions – the website and social media continue to inspire girls and women of all ages to be active and to challenge the ‘fear of judgement by others…This fear covers concerns over their appearance, ability, or the simple fact they are choosing to spend time on themselves, rather than on their families.’

Hall of Fame/ Bristol’s Sporting Inspirations – In Spring 2018 a new project will celebrate Bristol’s community heroes, inspiring people, elite performers and local legends as part of a legacy of 2017.

The city working together – Three city-wide working groups focusing on ‘Elite Pathways and Performance’, ‘Participation’ and ‘Events’; these evolved from the three Mayor’s Sports Gatherings at the beginning of the year and the plan is to continue these as an annual gathering to bring sports and physical activity providers together.

Bristol Cycling Grand Prix – Over the past year Bristol City Council has been working with Bristol Cycling Grand Prix and British Cycling to incorporate the Bristol Grand Prix into the British Cycling Grand Prix series which will be televised this year. There will also be a mass participation bike ride on the same day.

British Rowing Sprint Series –Will be held in Bristol Docks this Summer as a non-ticketed event on the Sunday of the Harbour Festival weekend. The event will feature women and men’s teams of eight racing over a 350 metre course and will be televised.

Access Sport/Sport England BMX project – During European City of Sport Year, Bristol City Council worked with Access Sport and Sport England to develop a network of new and improved BMX tracks in Bristol. Two tracks have been tendered and will be built in parks in Bristol in 2018, with two tracks to follow in 2018/19. The tracks will be made available for public use as well as community clubs developed at each track providing: coaching, competitions and elite development pathways for young people from disadvantaged communities within the city.

LTA Tennis operating model – During 2017 Bristol City Council started working with the Lawn Tennis Association to develop a citywide operation model to enable more people to be able to play tennis and access the courts at an affordable level across the city. The operation model will see a single operator manage three park sites and offer key fob access and ‘pay and play’ access to the courts. With the court access will be a community coaching programme, to allow anyone to learn the game of tennis regardless of their background. The operator will grow participation across a wide range of activities and aims to reinvigorate tennis in Bristol’s parks. We anticipate this starting in April 2018.

New Playing Pitch Strategy and Facility Strategies

As part of Bristol’s European City of Sport year, Bristol City Council committed to finalising work on a Playing Pitch Strategy (grass and artificial playing fields) and Sport Facility Strategy (all other built sport facilities) for the city.  Both strategies review the respective facilities in Bristol to assess whether the supply meets the demand from Bristol residents.  If we are to encourage participation in sports and activities then we do, in most cases, need suitable facilities to enable this.  The strategies aim to ensure we have the best quality facilities in the city we possibly can, for the foreseeable future.  Completing this work is very important for sport in the city and the European City of Sport Year has played a huge part in ensuring this process has happened.

Report compiled January 2018 by Bristol City Council Sport and Physical Activity Team (Public Health)