Copper meets the Bristol Green Capital Partnership CIC
27th May 2015
Becky Borrow, Head of Operations at communications consultancy Copper Consultancy, recently caught up with our team to delve deeper into the Bristol Green Capital Partnership, its story and its people:
As a small and friendly communications consultancy in the centre of Bristol, Copper likes to get to know its neighbours and to play an active part in the community of our dynamic and innovative city. This recently led us to become a member of the Bristol Green Capital Partnership by signing a Pledge online. We were intrigued – a Partnership with over 800 member organisations is something to be reckoned with, and the fact that Bristol is this year’s European Green Capital is proof of what they can achieve. But what could we bring to the Partnership? And what benefits would we discover from being part of this wide-reaching organisation that pledges to make Bristol ‘a low carbon city with a high quality of life for all’?
For anyone wanting to know a little more about the Bristol Green Capital Partnership’s story, the history of the Partnership is very well told by Emmelie Brownlee on the Partnership website. However, in a nutshell, the Partnership was instigated by Bristol City Council in 2007 as a platform on which organisations could join together to make Bristol a ‘green city.’ It had just 12 member organisations at this point and was governed by an elected voluntary chairperson and vice-chair. The Partnership continued to gain momentum and by 2010, a Steering Group was needed to lead the organisation in the right direction. In 2011, work began in the bid for European Green Capital and by 2013, when Bristol was awarded the accolade, membership had expanded to over 200 organisations. A number of themed Action Groups were established in the run up to Bristol 2015 to bring together communities of interest and help channel activity via core issues, priorities and cross-cutting themes.
In May 2014, the Partnership ‘fledged its nest’ within Bristol City Council, going out on its own and registering itself as a Community Interest Company (CIC). With Bristol 2015 Ltd only lasting the 12 months of the city’s Green Capital year, the Partnership had to start the process of becoming an independent body capable of delivering the legacy opportunity that will pass over once Bristol’s year in the ‘Green Capital’ spotlight is done.
Also, from 2016, the Partnership will no longer by supported financially by its one-off grant from Bristol 2015 Ltd. and that marks a very significant point in the Partnership’s evolution. Therefore the Partnership is currently in a much-needed period of reflection and consolidation, preparing itself for the big changes ahead.
So what about the ‘who’ of the Partnership? We’ve already mentioned the 800+ members which consist of c 50% private sector, 40% third sector and 10% public sector organisations. But who coordinates this myriad of membership? The answer is a small and highly dedicated team who are working with members and partners to ensure that the activity and spirit of the Partnership stays intact whilst the body metamorphoses into its new form.
The day to day activities of the Partnership CIC are looked after by Vicki Woolley, the Partnership Coordinator, and someone with whom many members will be familiar. Vicki’s is the only permanent paid position within the Partnership team and has the task of looking after all the operations, communications and events.
Supporting the Partnership through its period of change is Gary Topp who has been brought in as the Development Manager. Gary has led several organisations through a process of change and reinvention in previous roles and is clear in what the Partnership has to do to be ready for its new role.
“Bristol Green Capital Partnership is an extraordinary collaboration across civil society in Bristol. It exists to support, amplify and influence the city to make change happen in a sustainable way and to share an incredible story of city influence and change.” Gary Topp
Liz Zeidler, Elected Chair of the Partnership (and Founding Director of Happy City Initiative), and Nina Skubala, elected Vice-Chair (and Initiative Manager at Business West), head up the Board of CIC Directors which is made up of unpaid independent and elected representatives and who govern the Partnership. The Partnership also works with a number of collaborative partner organisations to ensure that the projects and engagement driven through the Action Group model in 2014 continues through a programme of events, activities and projects.
“BGCP is proud to be supporting, connecting and challenging the city and its organisations and businesses to live up to their green capital ambitions. Our new model aims to create a strong, collective representation of this inspiring civic leadership and wisdom, to be ready to take on the real work of the legacy of this Green Capital year – to embed the change into the fabric of our city” Liz Zeidler
The ‘what next’
Becoming fit for purpose for 2016 and embracing the challenge of being an independent legacy body is no small feat. It is clear that the Partnership, like all organisations, will need funding and resources to maintain their core delivery team and provide value for its members and the city. Will we be looking at sliding scale membership fees or perhaps a suite of services available at a fee to members/non-members? There is no doubt that the Partnership can be proud of what it offers and that it has value.
It is clear that the Bristol Green Capital Partnership is something very special, and perhaps unique. Bringing together small grassroots organisations through to larger international corporates under one umbrella is no easy task. Yet the Partnership has managed to do this successfully for a number of years now, helping people to work together to achieve shared goals and to share knowledge and skills, building on each other’s strengths – ‘The whole is worth more than the sum of its parts’ (Aristotle).
And it is this scope for collaboration that it offers its member organisations, and it is for this reason that Copper will be there to support the Partnership through the coming months, whatever shape it may take.
Gary Topp, Development Manager, Bristol Green Capital Partnership:
“The last few months have been important and challenging for the Bristol Green Capital Partnership CIC. We are delighted to be playing our part in helping to make sure that the Bristol 2015 year is as successful as possible whilst at the same time thinking hard about the Partnership’s future leadership role in the city. We are committed to sharing our journey with membership partners and the wider city so thank you to Copper for helping us tell our story.”