In the autumn of 1988, at the inaugural meeting of the National Federation of Chinese Women in Birmingham, four young Bristol women came up with the idea of establishing an organisation to support the needs of local Chinese women and their families. After a consultation meeting with local Chinese women early in 1989, and under the auspices of the Overseas Chinese Association, a successful application for funding was made to Bristol City Council. The Bristol Chinese Women’s Group was born shortly afterwards. In 1992 the Group’s success attracted funding from the old Avon County Council and the Group changed its name to the Bristol and Avon Chinese Women’s Group.
Many years on, the world is very different to how it was in 1989. Patterns of migration from China to the UK have changed, as has China’s place in the world. The challenges facing organisations in the voluntary sector are as acute as ever while the way in which public services (particularly across health and social care) are commissioned and delivered is changing, becoming more bespoke and targeted at reducing inequality.
The main thrust of the Group’s work has always been to break down the isolation experienced by Chinese women and their families, supporting them to overcome language and cultural barriers and access services. The Group has worked hard at this and developed a good reputation both among statutory partners and the Chinese community.
A Partial Timeline of Our Accomplishments
1989 – The Bristol and Avon Chinese Women’s Group was formed.
1990 – Helped to set up Avon Race Forum and the Translation and Interpreting Department. Also started work on a housing project for the Chinese elderly.
1991 – Produced a report on the health and social care needs of the Chinese community with the University of Bristol.
1992 – Carried out research into the housing needs of the Chinese elderly.
1993 – Worked with the Inner City Mental Health Team to study the health and social care needs of the Chinese community.
1994 – Helped to recruit a link worker with Maternity Health Link.
1995 – Set up a casework service in Bristol.
1996 – Set up the Chinese helpline and casework surgery in South Gloucestershire.
1997 – The newly refurbished “Drop-in” Day Centre opens in Penfield Court.
1998 – Formation of the South Gloucestershire Chinese Forum, which later became the South Gloucestershire Chinese Association.
2000 – Sitting Service Project set up in Bristol.
2001 – Became a registered charity.
2002 – Sitting Service Project expands into South Gloucestershire.
2003 – Completed a project commissioned by Bath and North East Somerset Council to explore the Chinese mental health needs.
2004 – Helped to set up the Chinese Community Liaison Officer with Avon and Somerset Constabulary.
2005 – Completed “Celebrating Our Culture” Project discussing mental wellbeing issues for carers, elderly and isolated women.
2006 – Culmination of the elderly Chinese housing project with the opening of Colliers Gardens by HRH The Princess Royal, with ten flats specifically allocated for Chinese tenants.
2007 – Group receives the Legal Services Commission’s Quality Mark for the provision of General Advice and Information.
2008 – Chinese Healthy Mind Project in association with Care Services Improvement Partner – West Midlands.
2009 – Worked with REACH to set up the Creative Elders Workshop to promote mental wellbeing in Chinese elders.
2010 – Group receives funding to run the successful Oriental Pearl arts club for Chinese elders with depression or dementia and their carers.
2011 – The Chinese Law and Order Group (CLOG) is set up and runs a number of well received workshops with funding from the Avon and Somerset Constabulary’s Diversity Fund.
2012 – Group receives the Advice Services Alliance’s Advice Quality Standard for the provision of General Advice and Information. The Golden Canary arts club for Chinese elders begins.
2014 – began work to establish the Chinese Lantern project to provide a reliable telephone support service to Chinese individuals needing help with a wide range of problems.
2017 – working to expand the effective coverage of the Chinese Lantern project to the South West Region of England