Organisations across the city are encouraging people to contact local support services if they, or someone they know, needs help, via a series of short films released today.
The videos showcase available support and how to access it during the pandemic.
The films can be viewed as a playlist on YouTube and will be available via social media this week, encouraging people to use the hashtag #AreyouOK to help raise awareness of what support is available across the city.
Deputy Mayor, Councillor Asher Craig, said: “I hope these videos show anyone who is struggling that support is available and are encouraged to reach out. We do not want to see anyone living in fear, at risk or isolated. I urge everyone to watch these videos, look out for one another and make sure that the most vulnerable in our society are not forgotten.”
Organisations who participated include: Next Link, Victim Support, One25, Off the Record, Bristol Mind, Mothers for Mothers, Bristol Drugs Project, the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership, Unity Sexual Health and 1625 Independent People.
Melanie Campbell, Interim Head of Services at Bristol Mind, said: "It’s been a priority for us at Bristol Mind throughout the pandemic to ensure our services are here for those who need us, when they need us.
“It’s so important to let people know that we are here to listen, give advice and information, and provide mental health and wellbeing support to the community of Bristol, no matter what the restrictions are.”
The pandemic has had an impact on the physical and mental health of many of Bristol’s most vulnerable people. Lockdown restrictions have meant that many of those most at risk, such as people experiencing domestic or child abuse, may be missing out on receiving help, or do not know where to seek it.
Priya (name changed to protect identity) reached out to Next Link domestic abuse services after her abusive relationship escalated during lockdown.
She said: “I am so glad I contacted Next Link for help. I didn’t really trust anyone so that’s why I did it online. He made me feel like I was the problem and I was scared other people would think the same. Once I spoke to someone it was like a weight lifted off me. I felt like she was kind and really understood what I was going through and how hard it was for me and my family.”
The release of the videos marks the one-year anniversary of the Are you OK? campaign, launched by the Keeping Bristol Safe Partnership and Bristol City Council, to look out for others who may be at risk or struggling during the pandemic.
Ivan Powell, Chairperson of the Keeping Bristol Safe Partnership, said: “These videos are a reminder that people may be struggling as the restrictions remain in place. We must continue to look out for each other’s wellbeing and consider whether those around us, family, friends or neighbours or even those we may not know so well, need support. I encourage everyone to watch the videos to see what is available in our city, in case you find yourself, or someone you know, in need of support.’’
The Keeping Bristol Safe Partnership website has information available for anyone looking for support or advice: bristolsafeguarding.org/areyouok.
The police should be called on 999 if anyone is in immediate danger.