Bristol & Me - Bringing people together online

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What is Bristol & Me?

Community Portal

What is Bristol & Me and who is it for?

It is a secure, moderated, social-networking website for people from vulnerable community groups. It is also for people who work and support people from these groups, such as Service Providers.

How did it start?

The idea for Bristol & Me came from Service Providers themselves. A group was formed that wanted to offer a safe place online for their community to interact with others. Modern lives are increasingly fragmented, and when people move day services, schools/colleges or homes it is sometimes hard to maintain important friendships. The group members worked with Local Authority officers to create Bristol & Me which provides a safe zone for service users to communicate with their friends, support staff, family members and service providers.

What is its purpose?

Many people from vulnerable groups can enjoy and benefit from using social networking sites. Unfortunately people often do not have the confidence or the appropriate skills to do so safely. The great news is that Bristol & Me changes this once and for all! Bristol & Me provides:

  • a safe, moderated online environment for those who want to stay in touch with their friends and family online.
  • opportunities to meet new people who share similar interests and activities.
  • methods to effectively support communities of users who wish to become more self-sufficient.

Does it support Person Centred Planning?

Yes, Bristol & Me will enable all those people involved in an individual’s Person Centred Plan (PCP) to ensure that the person’s stated goals and ambitions are realised and achieved. For those individuals that join Bristol & Me without a PCP it will be a simple task to develop one using the tools within the site. Read about Person Centred Planning.

Does it support independent and moderated use?

Yes: We believe that Bristol & Me is a tool that can support, encourage and develop a person's independence. It is designed to promote a person's self-sufficiency and gives them the confidence to try new things.

Can you build new communities?

Yes: The primary goal of Bristol & Me is to encourage and foster natural friendships, and support communities by bringing people together. Bristol & Me provides people with a place where people can share ideas, stories and experiences and learn from each other by doing so.

How does it benefit Local Authorities and Service Providers?

The role of social care is gradually changing. Bristol & Me is a unique tool that enables an individual, their family and the professionals around them to work closely together to effectively utilise the resources available to them. It gives the individual the opportunity to share resources and find a community-supported solution that could become 'cost free' to the Local Authority.

How does it sit with Education and Transition?

Bristol & Me is a practical alternative to traditional mainstream learning platforms for Special Educational Needs schools. It can help make the transition process seamless and support a young person during their educational years throughout the school or college into adult services.

Person Centred Planning

What is Person Centred Planning?

Person Centred Planning (PCP) is a process designed to assist someone to make future plans.

Person Centred Planning is about:

Person Centred Planning is at the heart of the Bristol & Me. The website gathers information from the different people in their lives to identify the person’s goals, set targets and actions for different people to take forward. Bristol & Me has a selection of PCP templates to help a person to decide what's working in their life, what needs to change, where they are already succeeding independently and where they need additional support to achieve something.


When several services support a person, it is essential they are all aware of the incremental progress being made and build upon it together. Keeping a PCP up to date is easy when using Bristol & Me, as the daily planners and diaries allow professionals to see where they need to target their skills to support a person. The ‘collation tools’ allow someone to see where they are making progress and where extra support needs to be added.

As long as the person's goals are at the centre of everything a professional delivers, everybody wins.

Service Providers

How does Bristol & Me benefits Service Providers?

The role of social care services is evolving, and nationally there is a shift towards community-based initiatives. People are encouraged to take the opportunity to be supported locally but individuals and their families do look to Local Authorities (LA) to support them with the tools and information they need to take control of their lives.

Bristol & Me recognises the following:

  • The economic downturn is causing authorities to rethink how best to spend taxes.
  • Instead of looking to social services for the expected cuts that usually follow these crises, families are increasingly looking to LA for the tools and information to support themselves in their local communities.
  • With the introduction of direct payments and personal budgets, individuals and their families are struggling to find local solutions.
  • Bristol & Me is a unique tool that enables an individual, their family and the professionals around them to work closely together with the resources available.
  • It gives the individual the opportunity to share resources and find a community-supported solution that could become 'cost free' to the Local Authority.
  • We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to choose whether a friend, a volunteer, or a paid person supports them.
  • Bristol & Me offers a person and their support network a way to meet new people, share activities and transport, exchange skills and work hours in a ‘time-banking’-style scheme, and to pool funding if paid support is chosen. It offers a community a way to develop its social assets and rely less on an assumption that social services are the only solution to them achieving their goals in life.

Building Communities

How will Bristol & Me help build my Community?

  • When you join Bristol & Me you are able to search for friends old and new, interact with your service providers and provide feedback on the services you receive.
  • By using the facilities online you are able to see service providers in your area.
  • You can search the site for people who live near you and share the same hobbies and interest as yourself.
  • Most importantly yours and other members’ addresses are never given away. These are kept private at all times.

With local government budgets being squeezed there will be an expectation to reduce the manned support someone is receiving over a period of time.

Circle of Support

What is a Circle of Support?

A Circle of Support is a group of people who help somebody accomplish certain personal visions or goals. A Bristol & Me member can have up to five members of their Circle of Support group working with them on the website. If for some reason the member is unable to achieve what they want from their life the Circle of Support will help them. The member is in charge of deciding who to invite into their circle. The Circle of Support is usually made up of family members, people from the day service, service providers and social workers. Their involvements will focus on the individual.

Bristol & Me offers a secure and accessible place that helps an individual and their Circle of Support to keep their Person Centred Plan up to date. At any time information such as status of achievement, work in progress, areas of difficulty still to that need more support can be quickly gathered and offered for an appointment or an annual review.

The individual can invite any stakeholder who supports them to view their Person Centred Plan, the goals they are trying to achieve or their daily planner. This gives those organisations the opportunity to see where they can contribute.

Being able to celebrate success when things are going right, and being able to be a source of experience and support for staff when things are difficult, is a balance all families can enjoy striving for.

With My Bristol & Me supporting an independent living placement, the communication between an individual and their Circle of Support becomes more balanced and mature. It enables the relationship to naturally shift from parent/child to parent/independent adult.

My Bristol & Me also offers families an opportunity to exchange ideas and problem-solve in the Circle of Support forums and share their successes in the 'Good Stories Library'. Learning from each others' experiences is an essential way to improve choice.


How does Bristol & Me sit with Education and Transition?

'Every Child Matters' and 'Aiming High' are government strategies that require local educational establishments to work together with services to enable disabled young people to reach their potential in life. Working also with families and using a 24/7 approach can bring more positive outcomes.

Bristol & Me is a practical alternative to traditional, mainstream learning platforms for Special Educational Needs schools. It can help make the transition process seamless and support a young person during their educational years throughout the school or college.

The transition from school/college services to adulthood can be particularly difficult for any students with a learning disability and though some individuals make successful transition, most are faced with significant obstacles in multiple areas as they attempt to negotiate their way into adult services, work, community participation and independent living.

As Person Centred Planning develops in adult social care it becomes a key tool for individuals and their families to understand the services that are working for them. Some families are now seeing the value in the Bristol & Me model and recommend it to others going through transitional years.

Professionals supporting the student are able to look at the student's whole life - beyond the 9am-3pm day. They can identify where parts of the curriculum can be taught in a person-centred way to help the young person develop in their lives outside of school. After leaving school or college the student is able to carry on using Bristol & Me to keep in touch with friends and plan events. They are also able to make choices about the support they receive.

Adult services realise that to plan their services and budgets most effectively they need to engage earlier with young people and their families They also understand that helping young people to identify their aspirations, and then working in partnership with schools and colleges to achieve those goals means that each individual's learning should be tailored to suit their requirements. This way everyone can arrive at the point of transition in a more skilled and prepared state. Individuals will have wider choices and more confidence to try new things.

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