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The city of Bristol in the south west corner of the UK has got a lot going for it.

Lots of waterways and restored industrial buildings, elegant Georgian squares,

and more rejuvenation of old buildings into new residences and places for leisure than you would ever think sustainable for what is only the UK’s 10th largest city

Throw in some trendy pubs, innovative workspaces

and a lot of new building and you have the complete package.

But success is a magnet for both those who can benefit from a fast paced economy and those who just aspire to it.

There is a worryingly large homeless population on the streets who by fate, misfortune or poor judgement are on the wrong side of the success story.

I was in the city briefly this week and was struck by how there are people who will have (albeit to varying degrees) skills and talents that could play a part in this city, but are unused and not developed.

Why, well inevitably the homeless who are drawn here are caught in the trap of poverty, sometimes alcohol and substance abuse and are therefore marginalised. As we inevitably move towards a post Brexit Britain with a diminished workforce, we need our young people as contributors and when I see these people I don’t just see a scruffy, maybe unkempt individual but an unused talent and someone with something to give.

Bristol is trying to help..there are schemes where you can donate small sums of money to assist people getting back on board.

I commend these schemes as they are far more effective than direct donations of money to individuals.

The £3 less in my bank account won’t impact my life, but I hope how it is used will play a small but important part in someone else’s.

Read more on the scheme here.

But personal contact is important too… my daughter will often give a free coffee that she gets awarded by her mobile phone company to a homeless person. A small gesture, but human touch also goes a long way.

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You may be recycling more than you think…

My early memories of recycling as a child in the UK in the not very environmentally focussed 1970’s were confined to old newspapers collected by the scouts to raise their funds,

returnable lemonade bottles returned by myself to raise my funds

and my parents ever growing compost heap to raise the local methane levels.

Fast forward over the next few decades and then there thankfully was more awareness and opportunities culminating in the increasingly normalised approach we have today.

Yes, in most residential districts (but it does surprisingly vary in scope even from municipality to municipality in the UK), you will find an array of recepticles outside houses on ‘recycling collection day’ for glass, paper, cardboard, tins, some plastics and garden waste.

That’s all good stuff and how it should be…but what really encourages me now are the other activities. We are turning old and unused industrial units into homes, old railway lines into bridleways, footpaths and cycle tracks and this is not just in the countryside ….you don’t get more city centre than the Hi Line in New York where an old railway line has created a fantastic inner city walkway, garden and general leisure space.

Its not just about ‘practical re-use of items’ or a breaking down to raw materials when things are too old to fulfil their original purpose. Sometimes the new life can be as an art form. Even old London tube trains can become an artistic canvas!

Not to be outdone, with ideas for new uses for old things, easyJet the low cost airline have an old bus literally attached to the front of their HQ building to create more meeting space.

And on the subject of airlines…how about this as a ‘feature’ for your hotel entrance…

But the best and simplest of all are the charity shops that fill our high streets….old clothes, old books, old music are all recycled to new owners with some money made for a needy cause along the way and delighted new owners buying at low prices. And it really is a win, win. Often these shops are staffed by volunteers and they will be from a wide sphere…retirees wanting to give back to the community, others who find it an opportunity to engage in a lower stress environment than the conventional workplace would allow and actually a whole raft of other reasons.

So remember when you give to or buy from a charity shop, the benefits are spread widely.

Giving, buying, sharing…it’s all about showing some love for the world and treating it with dignity.

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