Community Resolve

In 2001, two groups of young men living either side of Bristol’s M32 motorway attacked each other with knives and machetes – not for the first time, nor the last. At the same time, Bristol – a compact, relaxed and to that point overwhelmingly white city in SW England – was struggling to cope with one of the highest rates of demographic change in the country. These challenges were leading to tensions and conflicts on the streets, in schools and in local communities and housing blocks.

Community Resolve was founded in response to this incident and went on to work for 20 years in Bristol to strengthen community relationships and build connections across city networks and hierarchies. During that time, the organisation pioneered an untried approach to developing a shared language around everyday conflict while embedding conflict management skills in individuals across all walks of life – see the diagram below for its reach.

This starburst diagram illustrates how we worked across Bristol and beyond – the types of work we were delivering, and the huge range of very different participants we were working with from primary school children to senior police analysts. It follows one of our original concepts – that like a spider plant, we would create pockets of similar work across the city that would eventually join up and create a cultural shift within the city. In 2012, local police gave us the credit for the drop in knife crime across Bristol – at distinct odds with the national trend at the time. If you open the image in a new tab, you can zoom in.

Community Resolve’s strong commitment to an ethos of inclusivity and respect engaged an extraordinary range of people from across Bristol backgrounds and life experiences – from the poor to the rich, the educated to those without qualifications – who connected with the organisation as workers, volunteers, steering group members, supporters and commissioners, alongside thousands of service users. The experience and learning from those years form the platform for all our work today.

Although down-to-earth and highly accessible on the surface, Community Resolve was rooted in a mass of theoretical ideas and influences. This diagram shows what was behind the organisation, and how theory linked up with practice and organisational development.