Beyond the Colston 4: Community and resilience

by Ruth Pitter

The generous donations from those who contributed to support the legal case of the Colston 4 stretched wider and beyond the trial itself. The surplus monies remaining from the Glad Colston’s Gone Colston 4 legal fund enabled Bristol Redistro to redistribute these to black and brown-led Bristol groups actively delivering on racial justice and social justice in the city.

It was fundamental that those groups who were to be in receipt of the monies were grassroots groups embedded in the communities they supported with an annual income of under 25K.

The process involved a panel of 5 members from black and brown-led groups previously funded by Redistro shortlisting 15 applications from the 30 groups that had met the funding criteria who had applied for the share of £15,000 funding pot. This was then followed by an in-person resilience building day for those selected organisations.

Having read the applications in advance of the session, the panel had tough decisions to make. They considered, ‘What if every group were awarded a total of around £500 from the £15k pot?’ This would mean everyone would get something. But it was noted that for some groups £500 was not enough to enable them to realise tangible outcomes; they wanted the money to make a meaningful difference. So the collective shortlisting process got underway with 3 hours churning over every application with intense deliberation.

A question the panel posed themselves was ‘Should only groups representative of African Heritage people benefit from the funding given the context of the funds itself, with Colston being a key driver of the trafficking and enslavement of African people?’ The panel (whilst mainly in favour of this caveat) recognised it would be unfair to apply this criteria retrospectively at the decision making process. But it is one for Bristol Redistro (which was acting on the recommendation of Glad Colston’s Gone) to take into account should a similar pot of funding arise.

Each group was put under the microscope and the 15 groups selected clearly demonstrated the value they were contributing to their communities and the city as a whole in terms of the work they were carrying out. The panel were clear that they did not want a competitive process at the resilience building day so, at pains, shortlisted 15 groups who would all then receive a total of £1,000 per group.

One insight from the panel on reading the initial applications was a request to Bristol Redistro to consider running training on completing good funding applications. We know how challenging this process can be and how any support is often readily embraced!

The 15 groups selected to receive the funding were then invited to a participative resilience building day in late May to meet, connect and share information on the great work they do.

Valerie Mower, (who co-facilitated the day) and I were slightly concerned prior to the event that attendees may feel it was not the most fruitful way to spend a sunny Saturday given that they had already been  awarded the funding they had applied for. However, representatives of most of the groups set aside the time and gave up other pressing commitments to attend.

We were aware it was essential to make everyone’s attendance worth their time. We had agreed with Bristol Redistro that we would focus on making day engaging, interactive and celebratory. In the first instance we were inspired by the fact that the majority of the groups came, and came with a huge spirit of willingness to take part, and contribute to make the day a valuable experience for all. Feedback from the session included:

“It was a most enjoyable day; meeting lots of new people and making links”

“Really good for bringing organisations who normally don’t work together. Meeting people and knowing and sharing. The networking was great.”

“The event exceeded expectations.”

There was a sense of solidarity from the onset, warmth, good intentions and group quickly bonded. The ambience in the space was of bonding and community; where we could all share vulnerabilities and strengths within a spirit of support and trust. One participant remarked:


“It was lovely! A really beautiful day and gathering of likeminded souls. I gained great contacts and ideas from it.”

 We facilitated activities that enabled connectivity and creativity. The groups explored their local and global connections; identified values and aspects they had in common; focused on positive achievements they wanted to share; and developed creative ways to reflect back their ideas to each other.

Another described the day as:

“Breathtaking. I cannot describe it fully in words. I love the collaboration. Yes, money is important. However, our mission is to focus.”

Bristol Redistro is about redistributing wealth so that those with less can get a fairer share, make a better impact and difference; and to perhaps utilise funding to generate other income; or to help amplify the influence and power of the groups.

Groups were encouraged to express and celebrate all they are achieving, congratulate themselves and each other, to ask for support and to offer it where they could. The process was extremely beneficial to all.

Comments included:

“Really good, lots of contacts made and opportunities created.”

“It has and will be of great use to us. We so needed this!”

The event highlighted a lack of recognition for the outstanding groups and people in the city doing superb work impacting on the lives of young people, vulnerable communities, elders, addressing criminal justice, tackling health inequalities, isolation, mental health…….and making funds stretch to extreme ends while delivering quality services and work. Bristol should be hailing these groups from on high.

Some groups present were unsure they would survive through covid, but they have. Some were unsure they could adapt to meet new demands and challenges, but they have. They can be triumphant in their resilience. For some, the £1,000 funding is a lifeline that will help them thrive.

Thank you to Bristol Redistro, and especially to those who contributed to the Colston 4 legal case for giving an uplift to 15 groups. In stark contrast to Colston’s murderous acts these groups are determined to further activism and action, to maintain the struggle and resistance, to challenge and address inequality, injustice and racism.

We should all be on the rooftops heralding the work they do.

£15,000 distributed to Black and Brown-led groups

The Glad Colston’s Gone campaign ran a crowdfund to raise funds to support the 4 people who were facing criminal damage charges for toppling the Colston statue in June 2020.

Since they were found not guilty the funds were no longer needed and the decision was taken to hand it over to Redistro to distribute to local Black and Brown-led groups.

The funds came to £13,518 and PRSC/Stokes Croft China, who made the Colston 4 supporters’ mug, also contributed, bringing the total to £14,851. 

We received 30 applications for this round and it was incredible to see the range of groups active here in Bristol, often working hard behind the scenes and with little support.

We asked Black and Brown people from our previously funded groups to form a panel to shortlist the applications.

Six people came forward for this job and shortlisted 15 groups who were all invited to spend a day together on 28 May 2022 and all received £1,000 funding.

Shortlisted groups:

A Space to Breathe – a collective of Black and brown women and non-binary people living in Bristol that aim to collectively create healing and wellness spaces within the city.

AFIDANCE – a group collaborating with schools, especially those within socially deprived areas, to bring awareness and understanding of diverse cultural arts.

Bristol Copwatch – a fiercely independent grassroots police monitoring project and community group, offering ongoing support from volunteer case workers for those who have been on the sharp end of police contact. 

Bristol Steppin Sistas – a walking and wellbeing group run by women of colour established to encourage an interest in walking and thriving in open spaces.

DET Entertainment– a majority female Black-led community group who aim to improve community cohesion and safer and fairer society access in deprived areas of Bristol through community events.

DMAC UK – a dance, music, storytelling and arts collective. DMAC is a thriving multi-cultural hub for grassroots practitioners set up in Bristol by dance, drum, yoga and martial arts teachers.

Healing Black Radicals – collective of healers and activists who have come together to create radical healing spaces for Black cis and trans women, and non-binary people who are comfortable in a space that centres the experience of women.

Hidayah LGBT Muslim Network and OUTSpace LGBTQ Centre – Hidayah and OUTSpace are working together to create what is possibly the first LGBTQ-designated prayer space in the UK. Hidayah supports and serves queer Muslims in the UK and across the world. Outspace is Bristol’s new LGBTQ centre project. 

Let’s Talk Parent and Carers Group – a group for parents and carers working to support and empower themselves to tackle the real concern of the young black men to school to prison pipe line and youth violence etc.

Organisation for Sickle Cell Anaemia Research (OSCAR) – group helping to improve the quality of life of sufferers of sickle cell anaemia and their families (who are mostly black and minority ethnic groups) by providing practical, financial, and emotional support.

Pride of Ruth & Mount Horeb – two Black-led fraternal organisations bringing Black Elders together for social events: coach trips, banquets, BBQs etc., providing support, information, mentoring & befriending. 

Reparation Book Club – group which aims to readdress the narrative of Afrikan history starting from the position of the transatlantic and trafficking of enslaved Afrikan by reading and discussing literature on ancient Afrikan History.

Sadaga Group – community group for Arabic speaking women aiming to reduce social isolation and to support women from Black and minoritised communities in Bristol.

Sekhmet Education – group providing Black and Afrikan history courses that are specifically designed to promote positive mental health, wellbeing and psychological liberation for Afrikan Heritage people of all ages.

Sunflower Collective – an organisation prioritising access and engagement with members of the Black African and Caribbean communities in Bristol. Currently providing a free holiday club for children in response to the lack of culturally appropriate, accessible and enriching childcare for community.

We decided to top up the pot to £15,000 so each group could receive £1,000 each, as they’d requested. We’re happy to say that all but one grant has now been paid out.

We used our general funds to pay the short-listers and facilitators and to cover the costs of venue hire and catering. These additional costs came to around £1,200. Thank you to our supporters for enabling us to cover these costs. 

We’ll be sharing more information about this important racial justice round soon! 

£13,518 funding round for Racial Justice from ‘Glad Colston’s Gone’ campaign

After the triumphant NOT GUILTY verdict in January for the ‘Colston Four’ accused, our next funding round is to redistribute the £13,518 remaining in the #GladColstonsGone! Bristol Topplers’ Defence Fund!

 This will be a special one-off round run by and for Bristol-based Black and Brown-led Racialised Groups.

We encourage applications from groups from across Bristol who may not easily access mainstream funding streams.

Please share this with groups you think might benefit!


  • Deadline for applications: Midnight, Sat 30 April
  • Shortlisting meeting: Mid-May
  • Funding day: End of May


Contact and Next Steps

About Bristol Redistro

Bristol Redistro’s mission is to give grassroots groups the power to decide how the funds we distribute are used to create social change.

Our practice is in direct opposition to the controlling philanthropy of elites such as the Society of Merchant Venturers, and Colston himself.

Read more about Bristol Redistro on the … ‘About’ page

Round 3 Shortlisting

As of Saturday 20 November, eleven grassroots Bristol-based groups were shortlisted to receive a grant of up to £1,000 from Bristol Redistro. The final decisions about how much each shortlisted group is funded will be made on 4 December.

We had £10,000 in available funds and the shortlisted groups had requested a total of £10,750.

Congratulations to the following groups who have been shortlisted:

Sound Women SW – fostering diversity in the radio and audio industries, and giving women and girls from BAME and marginalised groups a stronger artistic voice.

CLIPS (Creative Learning and Innovation Projects) – providing opportunities for children and young people who are or have been in care.

Bristol Sex Workers Collective – a collective created and run by sex workers that advocates for the rights and safety of sex workers in Bristol.

Radical Resilience Project – a survivor-run organisation for survivors of rape and sexual violence, it aims to rebuild the systems that cause harm and oppression.

Inclusive Wellness – a social enterprise that provides access to wellness services to those who are often excluded.

Bridge of Love – a community project to make the footbridge between Easton and St Werburghs a place of remembrance for those who lost their lives by suicide there.

Newtown Network – a community group aiming to reverse years of neglect and ensure that residents feel heard, connected and empowered.

Reparations Bristol – support and education for young people aged 11-16 from African Caribbean backgrounds who are underprivileged and at risk of not achieving full education and employment.

Creative Tuition Collective – a free tuition service for young people from low income backgrounds.

East and South East Asian Solidarity Bristol – a grassroots solidarity group for the East and South East Asian diasporic community in Bristol.

Avon Indian Community Association – an umbrella organisation for Indian communities in the Bristol area.


Our shortlisting panel included: Sonah, Bryony, John, Algis, and Cleo. They are all core members of groups that Bristol Redistro funded in our previous funding round. Those groups are: Black Mothers Matter, Radical Resilience Project, Hazelnut Community Garden, St Pauls Community Garden, and Reparations Bristol, respectively. Shortlisters stepped aside for discussion of any group in which they have an interest. Jay and Ryan from the Redistro collective facilitated the meeting. 

There were 14 applications altogether, requesting a total of £13,750. Before the meeting, the shortlisters read each of the applications and gave each one a score out of ten. Then we worked out an average score out of ten for each application and ranked them. Once the shortlisters saw this, they decided fairly quickly about how to shortlist the applications. They decided to fund the 11 applications that had average scores of 8 or more out of ten. This amounted to £10,750 in total. So £750 higher than the amount Redistro had available to give in grants. The shortlisters decided that Redistro should first attempt to raise that shortfall of £750. And then if that was not possible, and there was still a shortfall, Redistro should ask the 11 shortlisted groups to decide among one another how to distribute the available £10,000 at the funding day on 4th December.

The shortlisters also came up with a new idea that could help the growing community of funded groups and shortlisted groups. They said we could try to set up a facebook group or something similar where groups who had applied to Redistro for funding could:

ask other groups for information and advice on any issues or goals,

ask if other groups can help out with resources, such as rooms for meetings, technical equipment – or anything else.

advertise any resources they can offer to other groups.


The thinking was that many groups can benefit by building links and sharing resources. The Redistro collective are thinking through some options for how to set this up and maintain it. A huge thank you to our shortlisters and congratulations to the newly shortlisted groups!