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Police chief's 'horror' over killing of George Floyd

Chief Constable Andy Marsh
Avon and Somerset Police

Avon and Somerset's police chief has written of his "horror and concern" at seeing the video footage showing the killing of George Floyd in the US.

Chief Constable Andy Marsh said he felt "ashamed" to have the same occupation as the white police officer in Minneapolis who continued to kneel on Mr Floyd's neck even after he pleaded that he could not breathe.

The officer, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with third-degree murder and will appear in court next week. Three other police officers have been fired.

Mr Marsh said: "I felt horror and concern at the video footage showing the senseless and tragic killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of a police officer.

"Silence in the face of injustice incriminates us all.

"I do feel ashamed to have the same occupation as an individual that behaved like that and I’m concerned at the damage this will do to the work we’ve been doing to build trust, confidence and better representation within the communities we’re here to serve, protect and respect."

Bristol council buildings lit up for George Floyd

Buildings belonging to Bristol City Council will be lit up purple this evening in solidarity with calls for #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd.

Protests in the US over his death have escalated over the past week.

They began after a video showed Mr Floyd, 46, being arrested in Minneapolis on 25 May and a white police officer continuing to kneel on his neck even after he pleaded that he could not breathe.

The officer, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with third-degree murder and will appear in court next week. Three other police officers have been fired.

The Floyd case has reignited deep-seated anger over police killings of black Americans and racism.

It follows the high-profile cases of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Eric Garner in New York and others that have driven the Black Lives Matter movement.

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The Idles release film talking about community and inclusivity

A film about Mercury Award nominees, The Idles, is due to be released alongside a live Q&A with its director on 3 June.

The documentary, called Don't Go Gentle, follows the Bristol-based band members and their views on inclusivity and community.

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George Kruis and Maro Itoje

Chris Jones

BBC rugby union correspondent

A ground-breaking overhaul of the Premiership Rugby salary cap is unanimously approved by England's top-flight clubs.

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#Iamvisible campaign supports LGBTQ+ in pageants

Miss Webber wearing a crown and a large ball-gown after winning a beauty pagent
Emma-Jay Webber

A new campaign called #Iamvisible set up by a beauty pageant queen aims to create visibility for the LGBTQ+ community in the sector.

After winning national and international pageant competitions, Emma-Jay Webber from Bristol wanted to be a role model for plus size women but found that her sexuality was something she had to "keep under wraps".

She said: "I've had some awkward moments, especially when entering international competitions with people asking where my husband is and feeling the tension in the room when my girlfriend who comes with me hugs me or holds my hand.

"You're supposed to be your authentic self at these competitions but I know a lot of girls who won't come out through fear."

She added: "The wording in the rules need to change as it says things like, you have to be born female or your title will be taken away if you fall pregnant."

In response, she has set up the campaign #Iamvisible to help others in the LGBTQ++ community feel "represented" in fashion and beauty pageants.

"I need to do this" she said.

Emma with her partner holding an award
Emma Jay-Webber

Poem is a 'visual response to pandemic'

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A film maker, a poet and a composer have worked together to create a visual response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Bristol cameraman Ross James has been documenting his family's and community's reactions since the lockdown was imposed.

Former Bristol poet laureate Miles Chambers wrote a poem using his own experiences and those "inspired by the way (Ross's) images captured the city’s reaction to the crisis".

The original score is by Benji Bower.

The work - Keep Shining - uses Bristol as a backdrop, with Miles’ performance taking the viewer on a journey with a message at its heart of ‘shining through’.

NHS staff to join vaccine trials in Bristol

Scientist with vial and syringe
Getty Images

In the past week volunteers in Bristol have been taking part in a trial for a coronavirus vaccine.

It's been led by researchers at North Bristol NHS Trust, University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Bristol.

And now, from today, NHS staff in Bristol will also be taking part.

Professor Adam Finn is helping to lead the research.

He said: "What we need to do is first of all find people who have not had the infection so they all have a blood test first to make sure they don't have antibodies as a small minority do have antibodies and shouldn't be involved.

"We've also tried to select people who are slightly more likely to get the infection because we need infections to occur in the study in order to be able to see a difference between the vaccine and the control.

"We don't ask them to change what they do in any way and clearly we can't increase their risk of getting the infection."

Woodcarver 'thrilled' at response to NHS plaques

Charley Adams

BBC News Online

A woodcarver who has been donating his skills and time to show his appreciation for the work of health care staff during the coronavirus pandemic said he is "thrilled" with the response his project has received.

Johnathon Whittaker, who is a full-time self-employed wood carver and sculptor, has been making hand-carved plaques to thank health care workers.

Since starting the idea in April, Mr Whittaker and his wife Christie, who helps with administration, have been inundated with requests.

The couple from Plymstock in Devon have been making plaques for care homes and the South Western Ambulance Service, as well as their original idea for NHS workers.

"I am feeling a mixture of emotions, excitement, happiness, anxiety, nervousness...there is a lot going on inside my head right now," said Mr Whittaker.

"I never expected it to boom like it has, but I am loving every minute of it."

Carers plaque
Johnathon Whittaker

They have had 110 requests from across the country, with the majority coming from the south west.

"The impact they are having is almost tangible - everyone seems to really value being gifted something that will stand as a long lasting reminder of their bravery and strength at this time.

"There will come a point where this will all die down, and the demand on my time will lessen, and all of this will be something wonderful to look back on."

The 45-year-old thanked the companies that have backed them during this time and said the woodworking community "has been fantastic".

Police investigate spitting incident in Taunton

CCTV Image of suspected offender
Avon and Somerset Police

CCTV images have been released by police after a man who claimed he had Covid-19 coughed, spat at, then verbally abused a woman in Taunton.

Avon and Somerset Police say the incident, which happened at about 3pm on Monday, 18 May, is being treated as a hate crime due to the verbal abuse directed at the woman, who is in her 30s.

The offender is described as white, around 5ft 7ins tall with a long beard and blonde hair.

He was wearing a white T-shirt with a NASA logo on and red sunglasses.

Bristol Pride festival will take place online

Bristol Pride
Neil James Brain

Bristol Pride has announced that it is moving the event online this year, to ensure people can experience the festival in safety.

The popular event celebrates the LGBT+ community and will now be held virtually between 1-12 September

Bristol Pride Online will include many of the events and activities regular visitors enjoy including the dog show, film festival and comedy night, and will culminate in the pride day celebration with a virtual parade and performances.

"We consider the health and safety of our attendees, staff and city of upmost importance and with a restriction on mass gatherings looking to continue we’re just not able to deliver a physical festival this year.

"But Pride is such a vital part of many people’s lives and the show must go on and we’re really excited and energised at the thought of mixing it up and delivering a great show online,” said festival director Eve Russell

The festival had been due to take place in July but was postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak. Organisers are also working on next year's festival which is set to be held on 10 July.

Turf stolen from golf club green as lockdown eases

A golf club is offering a reward after turf was stolen from its 9th green.

Henbury Golf Club, in Bristol, which reopened this week, described the vandalism as "sad and depressing".

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Bristol Uni to return to 'new normal' from October

University entrance: Wills Memorial Building

The University of Bristol says it expects to return to face-to-face teaching from October.

Students will be offered teaching in small groups or individually, and some online lectures will continue.

The university says it's implementing social distancing measures across its sites, including dedicated entrances, one way systems and distance markers.

Students will receive face-to-face teaching in small groups but continue to also have online learning for some areas of study.

"Staff from across our community have been working incredibly hard on plans that enable us to be flexible, respond to changing public health guidance and, most importantly, protect the wellbeing of our students and staff" a statement said.

Young people share their hopes and fears for post-lockdown

Osob Elmi

BBC News

Young people in Bristol and South Gloucestershire have expressed their views to key decision-makers in a short video.

The video was presented as part of a digital conference, bringing together young people from across the region. A third of the population in Bristol is under 25.

Representatives from UK Youth, the National Lottery Community Fund and Youth Employment UK, as well as the West of England Combined Authority and Local Enterprise Partnership, discussed changes brought by the coronavirus pandemic and how it affects young people today.

There were 93 participants in the digital conference that took place via Zoom.

It was part of ’We the 33%’ initiative - a series of ongoing events that amplify the voices of young people in the city and the region.

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Melissa Henry, Head of Communication and Fundraising said: “This is affecting young people in ways that people would not imagine and I think many people overestimate young people’s resilience in this crisis when it’s having a significant impact on their mental well-being.”

Sandy Hore-Ruthven, CEO of Creative Youth Network, said: “These young people will be living with the consequences of strategic decisions being made now, for years to come. It is vital they play an equal part in helping to shape the future.”

“Throughout this crisis, our priority has been the safety and wellbeing of young people. We are supporting the most vulnerable and isolated."

Pottery gifts left around the city 'for those who find them'

Jasmine Ketibuah-Foley

Digital Journalist

Image of a ceramic piece, a round object that looks like the rings of a tree in varying colours of ochre
Richard Henderson

Hand-made ceramics are being left around Bristol as gifts to those who find them.

Avid potter, Richard Henderson, survived a brain tumour in 2018 that affected his speech.

For the last three years he has used the art form as a way to help him recover.

During the lockdown period he says he started going out on his daily walks and secretly leaving his ceramics for others to enjoy as well, because it made him "happy".

Image of Richard Henderson looking into the camera and smiling in his kitchen and wearing a blue and white striped t-shirt
Richard Henderson
A screenshot of a post from Mr Henderson's instagram page . A colourful ceramic mug is in the shot at the base of a tree.

The 45-year-old said pottery and his new project - leaving his work as gifts - has been helping him with his cognitive functionality and physical and social interactions.

The pots are left with a sticker giving the artist's Instagram name. He said "it's cool" and "nice" to see other people's pictures on Instagram when they find his ceramics.

Mr Henderson is hoping to get access to a pottery centre so that he can make more to give away before what he has runs out, but the current lockdown has made that hard.

Foodbank Neighbourhood Champions helping people in need

North Bristol Foodbank has created a Foodbank Neighbourhood Champions network to help people access essentials during the coronavirus outbreak.

The organisation brought the network together by connecting with people who have been helping their neighbours with food and donations.

A spokesperson said: "We have loved receiving donations from people who have arranged a collection on their street and regularly drop this off at our foodbank.

"If you are someone who has been coordinating collections of food or donations on your street we would love to connect with you."

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England Rugby World Cup shirt auctioned for NHS

Emma Hallett

Digital Journalist

Joe and his shirt at RUH hospital sign
Joe Thomas

A physiotherapist raising money for the NHS is hoping a signed rugby England World Cup shirt, donated by England and Bath player Ruaridh McConnochie, will help him over the line.

Joe Thomas, 21, who works for Royal United Hospitals Bath, is raising money to buy a new end of life patient chair for a Covid ward at the RUH.

The specialist armchairs can transform into a bed for the relatives of end of life patients, enabling them to sleep next to their loved ones.

Joe, who is currently working on rotation at Chippenham Community Hospital, said: "Ruaridh has kindly donated a rare England Rugby World Cup 2019 match shirt signed by the whole team and authenticity letter, which is just an amazing prize.

"I'm hoping this England shirt will really help get a lot of money in to help buy the chair. We want to raise as much as we can...if we raise more than is needed for the chair, we will buy any other therapy equipment we can as well."

To be in with a chance of winning the shirt, Joe is asking for a minimum donation of £10 to his JustGiving fundraiser. The winner will then be chosen at random on 26 June.

Signed England shirt
Joe Thomas

BreakingCoronavirus: North Bristol NHS staff member dies after contracting virus

North Bristol NHS Trust has announced, on its Facebook page, that a member of its nursing education staff has died after testing positive for Covid-19.

Sandra Hicks was Lead Practice Development Teacher in the Apprenticeship Centre at North Bristol NHS Trust.

She died on Saturday (23 May) the Trust has confirmed.

Ms Hicks had trained as a nurse at Frenchay School of Nursing, qualifying in 1985, spent 15 years working at Frenchay Hospital.

She had also worked at NHS Direct and in a local care home, returning to the hospital trust five years ago.

Her family said in a joint statement: “Sandra was at the heart of a large and loving family.

“She always gave generously of her love and time for each of them, her smiles and laughter will be remembered and treasured forever by them.

“Sandra’s positivity and encouragement for all of her beloved family was like a button holding them all together.”

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Jonathan Hall, Sandra’s line manager, said:

“Sandra was a true inspiration to her colleagues and learners that she supported within the Trust. There are so many people that have developed both personally and professionally because of her commitment to them as an individual.

“She truly does leave NBT with a legacy that will impact so many people for decades to come. Sandra will be so deeply missed by everyone within the team.”

Online meeting to discuss future of 'Bristol’s cultural life'

Image of Colston Hall from the outside
Getty Images

Bristol MPs, artists and representatives from the music sector are due to meet online to discuss how to support the sector after the lockdown period.

Local MPs Thangam Debbonaire and Kerry McCarthy, who represent Bristol West and Bristol East, will be holding the public meeting which has now sold out of free tickets.

Due to happen tomorrow (29 May) at 10:00 GMT, the meeting is to be used as an opportunity to "discuss Bristol-wide solutions and ideas to put forward to government."

Thangam Debbonaire said: “When the lockdown ends, I want Bristol's cultural life to return to its energetic and creative former self, but the venues and organisations need support.

"[They] have been built up over decades and they enrich us in so many ways.

"If they are lost, our city will lose a big part of its personality.”

Film with poet marks city's journey to recovery from Covid-19

Bristol City Council has launched a film to "poignantly mark" the Covid-19 pandemic as they say the city begins it's "journey to recovery".

The short film includes a poem written and narrated by Bristol poet, Vanessa Kisuule, and beautiful images of the city under lockdown.

Bristol's mayor, Marvin Rees said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has not only created physical barriers between us, it has brought forward feelings of fear, uncertainty and isolation.

"This film acts as a reminder of the rich and varied communities and cultures that make Bristol so special, as we all stand together in the face of crisis.

He added: "It is that spirit that gives us hope for the future."

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15,000 GP video consultations in first weeks of coronavirus crisis

NHS uniform

Video-based GP appointments have helped thousands of patients in our region since the lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Bath and North East Somerset Clinical Commisisoning Group said practices across the Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire area carried out more than 15,000 video consultations during the first six weeks of the crisis.

Health bosses said new laptops had been supplied, and staff working from home had been able to securely access NHS and GP practice IT systems.

It has enabled video consultations to take place, prescriptions to be issued and patient records updated confidentially.

Dr Michael Marsh, South West Medical Director for NHS England and NHS Improvement, said: “This is one of a number of examples across the South West in which NHS organisations have worked closely together to ensure GPs and their colleagues have the technology to provide patient care through video appointments, while also having remote digital access to patient records.

'We face a dilemma' says Bristol mayor

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Stephen Sumner

Police will be out on the street reminding people to keep social distancing as they get back to work, Bristol’s mayor has confirmed.

Marvin Rees warned that “premature overconfidence” risked a second peak that would have massive consequences for health and wealth and send the country into a stricter lockdown.

He urged residents not to take public transport, but to walk and cycle, and revealed that changes to some Bristol streets will be made in a matter of weeks to allow for social distancing.

The council is acting now to change habits as people get back to work.

Speaking during a fortnightly media briefing, Mr Rees said: “The challenge we’re facing is the transition from the hard lockdown to the easing of the lockdown the Government have tried to introduce.

“We face a dilemma. Many businesses want to get back to work. We have a transport system with buses running at 30-40 per cent capacity, trains running at 10 per cent capacity, unions expressing concern about the workforce. There are many competing challenges.


“Whatever comes ahead, our approach will be maximum caution. Let’s not have any premature overconfidence that we’re past the threat. We don’t have a vaccine. It leaves us vulnerable to a second peak.

“That would have massive consequences to health, and the trauma of going back to a stricter lockdown, and another blow to the economy.

“As people go into the city centre areas there will be police officers, retail assistants and security staff reminding people when they see people breaking the social distancing behaviour.

“We’re asking people to be cooperative, not to be resistant and not to take umbrage.No one wants to intervene in people’s lives the way we’ve had to, but we have to.”

A programme to pedestrianise in the middle of the city will begin late in the summer.

Frontline worker helping people understand complex trauma

Jasmine Ketibuah-Foley

Digital Journalist

Image of Chris Thomas looking into the camera wearing lanyard and smiling.
Chris Thomas

A frontline worker says he has been on a mission this month to raise awareness on Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) as part of Mental Health Awareness Week.

Mental health engagement worker, Chris Thomas, works with St Mungo's in Bristol and has been working with people who are going through CPTSD, a mental health issue that he says not many people have heard of.

CPTSD can be diagnosed in adults or children who have repeatedly experienced traumatic events, such as violence, neglect or abuse.

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Mr Thomas said: "A lot of people who have complex trauma grow up thinking there's something wrong with them because they can't explain why their emotions fluctuate uncontrollably, and they feel the way they do."

He added: "It's really powerful for people experiencing CPTSD to understand more about why they are experiencing the symptoms, and equally as important that their friends and family learn and understand what they are going through as well."

Mr Thomas has released a Youtube video explaining what CPTSD is and has crowdfunded more than £900 to help a friend with CPTSD get access to psychotherapy.

Charity opens 'donation stations'

Two donation stations have been opened by Bristol-based charity St Peter's Hospice.

Unwanted clothes, books and small bric-a-brac can now be dropped off at their warehouse in Avonmouth, or their shop on Gloucester Road in Horfield.

St Peter's Hospice has asked only for donations of clean, good quality items as it will cost the charity money to dispose of them.

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Lockdown poem written by nine-year-old girl

Land of hope
Steph Lee

Steph Lee, from Bristol, wanted to share a lockdown poem from her nine-year-old old granddaughter.

"I think she sums it up beautifully," she said.

Steph Lee

Covid-19 plasma donation centres set up in Bristol and Gloucester

Getty Images

The Bristol-based NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is appealing for Covid-19 survivors to donate their blood plasma.

Preliminary research suggests that three groups of patients have plasma which has the most potential to save lives. These include patients over the age of 35, male Covid-19 survivors and patients who were ill enough to need hospital treatment.

The plasma from former patients is rich in the antibodies that develop as a person recovers from an illness.

It is transfused into people who are seriously ill with Covid-19 and struggling to develop their own antibodies.

To take part former patients should call NHSBT on 0300 123 23 23 or via their website.

Across the West Country, Bristol and Gloucester are included in the 23 donor centres for England.

Charity appeal to help fund coronavirus research

Southmead Hospital

An £815,000 appeal is under way to help health researchers better understand and find new ways to fight coronavirus.

Southmead Hospital Charity is looking to raise the money for North Bristol NHS Trust - which runs the super-hospital, in Bristol.

It hopes to use the cash to:

  • develop tests to diagnose and identify immunity to coronavirus
  • explore secondary lung and infection complications from the virus
  • test new drug treatments

It believes the study could help doctors in the future decide which tests are useful in managing coronavirus and which are not.

We hope to rapidly publish this work and share our results with other UK and international centres to allow wider use of successful prognostic biomarkers.

Dr David ArnoldNorth Bristol NHS Trust

Go-ahead for fire-damaged hotel to be rebuilt

The Premier Inn on the outskirts of Bristol caught fire last July

Plans to rebuild a Bristol hotel which was badly damaged by fire July have been given the go-ahead.

The decision by South Gloucestershire Council's planners means the site of the Premier Inn at Cribbs Causeway can be cleared and a "new and improved" hotel and restaurant can be constructed.

The design will follow the same U-shaped building footprint as the previous hotel but with a "simpler and more up-to-date design style".

Its owners, Whitbread, have added six additional bedrooms to the plans, to create a 183-bedroom hotel, and the section of the building facing onto Cribbs Causeway will be raised by a storey to accommodate an car parking area.

A 150-seat restaurant and meeting rooms, at the Cribbs Causeway site, are also included in the design.

Artist's impression
Premier Inn

90s boyband singer becomes NHS ambulance driver

Remember 90s pop band 911? A member of the aptly-named group is now enjoying a new role driving ambulances for Bath's Royal United Hospital.

Jimmy Constable described his work over the past six weeks as "challenging" but "rewarding".

He said his "day job" as a performer was likely to be one of the last activities allowed to return as it involved mass gatherings and concerts, so he was happy to continue for as long as help was needed.

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In case you're feeling nostalgic, here's a photo we found in the BBC's photo library showing the band in those glorious 90s jackets with Lenny Henry.

Pop band 911