January 2024: Your Opinion

Thanks for helping BLOC help homeless

BLOC Productions’ recent musical A Christmas Carol, performed at the Bristol Hippodrome, raised over £7,000 for Caring in Bristol, a local charity dedicated to addressing the city’s homelessness crisis as part of their Christmas campaign. 

Following every performance, Sid Vidarkis (Ebenezer Scrooge) asked audience members to give generously, hoping they would have been inspired by the “generosity of spirit found in Dickens’ classic tale”. 

After a successful week-long run of audiences certainly rose to the challenge, donating a total of £7,390 in cash over just seven theatre performances. Digital ‘tap’ donations were also available and will have pushed the total amount raised even higher, along with additional support via Gift Aid.

This fantastic show of support from Bristol audiences has given a substantial boost to the start of Caring in Bristol’s critical winter fundraising efforts. 

BLOC Productions is itself a charity that produces one performance per year at the Bristol Hippodrome, enabling home-grown South-West talent to perform on one of the largest stages in the country.

It’s always a huge undertaking to put a show together for the Bristol Hippodrome, and this year we are delighted to have celebrated our 90th anniversary with another successful and critically acclaimed production that has also made a big impact in the wider community through our partnership with Caring in Bristol.

We would like to thank the 9,000+ audience members who came to support us and also gave so generously to such an important cause.

Emma Griffiths

BLOC Community Liaison Officer


Be a custody volunteer

Being arrested and taken into custody can be a time of stress and when people are at their lowest ebb.

That’s why we have custody visitor volunteers, members of the public who can ensure the police are providing the level of care and respect that we expect.

These roles are vital in maintaining high standards of treatment and care for people who have been arrested and taken into custody.

I’ve launched a new campaign to recruit members of the public to be Independent Custody Visitors.

Each Independent Custody Visitor will do one visit per month in pairs at times to suit them.

They turn up, effectively unannounced, at any time and ask to view the custody records which show who is in custody awaiting a charging decision, court visit or to be released.

They then go and speak to detainees at random and ensure their welfare needs are being met.

We rely heavily on our volunteers to scrutinise the police and to provide an independent viewpoint.

If you have a sense of social justice and feel strongly about ensuring policing is fair for everyone please get in touch.

I encourage people from all backgrounds and ages to apply. You don’t need specific qualifications and we provide all the training you need.

For more information visit tinyurl.com/muvrdeps.

Mark Shelford,

Police and Crime Commissioner

Avon and Somerset

Sign our petition on buses

OUR bus services are in crisis – many bus routes have been cut, leaving people stranded.

Buses are a public good and should be designed and run in the interest of public need.

Bus franchising is a regulatory system that allows for more public control of how are the buses are run, meaning we can maintain essential routes and regulate prices.

You can help by signing the petition to put pressure on West of England Metro Mayor Dan Norris, to investigate public control of buses as a solution to the current bus crisis.

You can find it online at

You can also get involved in the campaign, which is made up of a broad coalition of people from across the West of England – get in touch at reclaimourbuses.woe@gmail.com to find out how!

Terry Stevens

Reclaim Our Buses West of England


Get help with energy bills

ANYONE in South Gloucestershire needing help with problems related to energy bills should seek advice at the earliest opportunity.

Citizens Advice South Gloucestershire is offering help specifically for issues related to energy bills, as we expect higher energy bills this winter than last.

This is because despite the Ofgem price cap falling to £1,923 a year – there is no sign of an Energy Bills Support Scheme as was put in place last winter.

It’s important you come forward because there’s a lot we can do to help you.

We are able to contact the energy companies and improve things for you.

We also look at where you can save on energy usage, what domestic appliances are really expensive and inefficient to run.

We look at whether there’s things you can do to maximise your income – we look at the whole picture rather than just energy – and often improve people’s income by several hundred pounds or even a thousand pounds per year.

Anyone in South Gloucestershire seeking free, independent, impartial and confidential advice from Citizens Advice South Gloucestershire can call 0808 278 7947.

Give us a call – we do come back to you, and we can help.

More details are available at www.southgloscab.org.uk

Marion Straker

Energy expert

Citizens Advice South