Features / Interviews
By Betty Woolerton, Tuesday Dec 20, 2022
From climate experts and a stripper pushing to keep lap dancing clubs open to building safety campaigners and “voice of Knowle West” Nick Haskins, Bristol24/7 has heard from important voices from every corner of our city throughout 2022.
Here are just a few of our favourite brilliant and beguiling quotes from interviewees over the last 12 months:
Brandy Babu, a Clifton resident 
Brandy was going about her day, accompanied by her 18-month-old, when she came across a woman who appeared “distressed and upset” – photo: Rachel Sutherland
“Nowadays, in this world a lot of people are communicating digitally behind their phone and it’s not a bad thing, but also we just need human touch and to look people in the eye and speak to one another.
“People should just be aware of their surroundings and people. It doesn’t take much to just ask someone ‘are you okay?’.
“Just by talking to someone you may feel a lot better and even find a solution to your problem, you never know what could happen just by opening up.”
Read more: How one small act of kindness can save a life 
Nick Haskins, retired landscaper and “voice of Knowle West”
Nick began to make a football pitch and BMX track on the former Filwood Swimming Baths site, later dropping the plans – photo: Charlie Watts
“I’m a Knowle Wester, and this is how Knowle Westers work. [The old pool site] has been derelict for about 20 years and nobody’s been allowed to use it. Well, not anymore!”
Read more: Man starts to create new youth facilities without permission 
Marlen Sanchez and Erika Takeo from the Rural Workers Association and the Latin America Institute for Agroecology 
Bristol24/7 spoke to the two activists from Nicaragua on a recent visit to the city, where they visited small farms and held exchanges on agroecology – photo: Valentina Hernandez Gomez
Sanchez: “It’s important to be conscious about the systems in place, It’s always important to fight passivity and get involved, join a movement or push for change. Solidarity between countries goes beyond just donating money, is understanding the fight other people are fighting.”
Takeo: “Even if someone from the UK thinks that they have nothing in common with someone from Latin America, they might be wrong. We have so many fights to fight in common. All of our struggles are interconnected.”
Read more: How could agroecokogy contribute to the fight against climate change?
Dayne Griffiths, an artist based in Filton
Dayne is a champion of what he calls “high intensity life drawing”, a strongly immersive way of creating art that sees him putting pen to paper at numerous demonstrations each week – photo: Betty Woolerton
“Art as a visual medium gets transfixed by what you can see which is only natural but there is so much more to the moment you’re capturing. Whether that’s a performance or a protest, the mark-making and the beat of your hand reflects what is happening.
“Bristol has powerful heartbeat that responds to the world… When there’s injustice in Britain, you can feel it in the streets of Bristol.”
Read more: The activist armed with a sketchbook and a purple biro 
Moses McKenzie, award-winning author of An Olive Grove in Ends
An Olive Grove in Ends was described as a “remarkable” and “daring” debut which sees his protagonist, Sayon Hughes, longing to escape the volatile Bris­tol neighbourhood known as Ends – photo: Little Brown
“I think when people say Bristol, they think of things like white, liberal, cyclist, Green Party, marches type Bristol that I don’t feel comfortable with. I don’t feel part of that and I don’t want to be part of that.
“Whereas my Bristol is – or was – very black, very Caribbean, very Somali, and very much apart from the image of Bristol that a lot of people outside of Bristol and even inside of Bristol have.”
Read more: Acclaimed debut novel set in Easton
Dulce Pedroso, campaign committee member for Bristol Cycling Campaign
Dulce Pedroso spoke to Bristol247 on what Bristol Cycling Campagin is doing to make cycling safer in Bristol – photo: Dulce Pedroso
“I would like to live in a city that questions the dominance and normativity of having cars everywhere, all the time, wherever, whenever – with everyone else having to adjust their lives and movements around that.
“As much as it is about cycling, it’s also about having the freedom to be able to move in the city in a dignified way. That includes being able to walk on our pavements and not having to verge onto the road and onto oncoming traffic.”
Read more: How can Bristol be a safer place for cycling? 
Chris Sanigar, former professional boxer and Bristol Boxing Gym founder
After hanging up his own professional gloves, Chris went on to become a coach, establishing Bristol Boxing Gym in 1989 and going on to train scores of champions – photo: Ellie Pipe
“The youth coming into boxing learn that respect for each other, the camaraderie the discipline, the determination. No one gets turned away.”
Read more: The Bristol boxing champion training the city’s rising starts
Evelyn Welch, vice-chancellor of the University of Bristol
Evelyn Welch is the University of Bristol’s first female vice-chancellor – photo: University of Bristol
“There’s something about being an exceptional university in an exceptional city, and what we can do together… Bristol is small enough to be able to see change happen but it’s large enough to have every global problem you can imagine in the world.”
Read more: Evelyn Welch has got the love for Bristol
Freddie Lewis, a musician 
In the decade Freddie has been creating music, his works have moved in line with his evolving perception of gender and identity – from it being constraining to comforting – photo: Betty Woolerton
“When I used to write about gender, it was very much about my experience with it. But now I am exploring the wider theory or societal concept of it.
“I used to deeply believe that gender had some intrinsic value to me, or some belonging sense. But now when I write about it, it’s more looking outward rather than inward.
“I think trans people are often put in a role of education or explanation and I just don’t want to do that. Nowadays, I am writing music for myself. If you write music with other people in mind, you’re always going to miss out on something.”
Read more: Meet the trans musician shattering gender stereotypes 
Shaban Ali, a dad-of-two and a Barton House resident
In a gathering where residents from tower blocks stood in unity for vital safety measures in their homes, Shaban voiced concerns of lack of fire safety measures in his home – photo: Rachel Sutherland
“This should not have happened. We’re not asking for special treatment, we’re just asking for common sense – especially after what happened at Grenfell. What politician or councillor wants to have that on their conscience? Yet here we are.
“People living in these buildings have children, health and mobility problems, so imagine in the middle of the night there’s a fire and there are no alarms. What are you meant to do?
“We’re inviting people to join us, we’re a community union, for the community and by the community. This is what happens when residents come together, we get the results in a short space of time. This is people power at the end of the day.”
Read more: Campaigners celebrate new fire safety measures following Twinnell House fire 
Olya Radetskaya
Olya, who has lived in Bristol for nine years, asked the people of Bristol to show their support at a demonstration following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – photo: Betty Woolerton
“It has been incredibly worrying and terrifying. But what happened today is just unbelievable, unimaginable.
“I would like people to understand that this is not a war between Russia and Ukraine anymore, this is so much more than that. It’s about Putin attacking the whole of the west with his actions.”
Read more: ‘Terrified’ Ukranians call on Bristol’s support at vigil 
Russ Leith, founder of the Friends of Castle Park Group
Russ loves Castle Park so much that he founded the Friends of Castle Park group, for which he has become the de facto spokesperson – photo: Martin Booth
“The bigger picture for me isn’t about the aesthetics. The people who object to that development are predominantly complaining about the aesthetics and that to me is insignificant.
“What is important are lives, livelihoods and the deteriorating ruins of St Mary le Port. Those are the big issues and the things that we should be focussing on.”
Read more: How the man who wants a bright future for Castle Park has been targeted by trolls 
Martin Fitton, a lorry driver from Brislington
Martin transformed his garden into a Japanese-inspired oasis – complete with a koi pond, waterfalls, zen garden and tea room – photo: Betty Woolerton
“I work weekends, and get days off during the week. I don’t sit and watch TV all day. I’m out in the garden, or in my workshop, creating something. My wife just lets me get on with it.”
Read more: The amazing Japanese garden hidden behind a Bristol home 
Lak Mitchell, co-founder and creative director of Wake the Tiger
Described as somewhere between “experiential art gallery, interactive theme park and detailed film set, Wake the Tiger is the brainchild of Lak – photo: Boomtown
“This is about opening up to absolutely everyone. Bristol deserves this, it really does. It’s made by Bristol people, expanding on the rich creative culture of our city. And it’s just the beginning.”
Read more: Lak Mitchell on Wake the Tiger: ‘Bristol really deserves this’ 
Amélie, member of Bristol Sex Workers Collective 
Amelia was a key figure in the campaign to keep Bristol’s strip clubs open – photo: Betty Woolerton
“We don’t fully disagree that it is exploitative but maybe not in the way that they think. I think a lot of it is that they think that our boundaries get pushed, that it’s exploitative on the customers’ side, but we think there are issues with bosses being exploitative.”
“Like in any industry the answer shouldn’t be to close down those workplaces and those industries, the answer is to give those people more workers’ rights.”
Read more: Sex workers of the world, unite!
Sasha Steppa, a roots, dub and reggae DJ
Sasha, who grew up in Montpelier, launched the city’s first female-powered sound system – photo: Soulfocus Media
“I want to create a place where all tribes are welcome. Come down and lock all of life’s troubles outside the door. Come in and feel uplifted, feel empowered, feel inspired and be reminded that you’re a beautiful person.”
Read more: Bristol’s first female reggae dub sound system 
Abbie Sanderson, a student midwife
Abbie was one of a group of midwives, parents and doulas who held a in protest to highlight a “state of emergency in maternity services” – photo: Betty Woolerton
“We want a full reform in maternity services. There’s so many midwives leaving due to burnout, stress and attrition.
“Sixty per cent of midwives are looking to leave the profession in the next year which is leaving maternity services in an unsafe position because there aren’t enough midwives to go around.
“Birth is a universal truth, it has always happened, and we need to protect it at all costs.”
Read more: Midwives, parents and doulas protest in Bristol 
Sage Willoughby, one of the Colston 4
Sage (right) was cleared of all wrongdoing following the toppling of the statue of slave trader Edward Colston during a Black Lives Matter march on June 7 2020 – photo: Rose-Morelli
“We didn’t change history, we rectified it.”
“This is a victory for Bristol, it’s a victory for racial equality and it’s a victory for anyone who wants to be on the right side of history.”
Read more: Jubilant and emotional scenes in Bristol as Colston 4 acquitted 
Main photo: Charlie Watts
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