Monday, 6 April 2009

Leeds family open their home to help disabled children

A Leeds couple have agreed to have their home adapted to help them look after disabled children for short breaks.

Teresa and David Williams of Oakwell Crescent Oakwood are one of a small group of professional short breaks carers in the city, and are the latest family who have agreed to have their home adapted so they can take physically disabled children.

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On Thursday 9 April at 1pm, members of the media are invited to attend the official ‘opening’ of Teresa and David Williams newly adapted property at 19 Oakwell Cres, LS8 4AF. Members of Leeds City Council’s family placement team and a young person who uses the service will be available for interview.

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Teresa and her family have experienced major building work and have been very patient whilst their home has been transformed. Their new home now has a bedroom with hoisting and a purpose built wet room where children can shower with ease. The biggest issue has been how to adapt the house to allow level access, create space for the children to move freely around their bedroom, to the living areas and to be able to move out into the garden.

Josie, one of the young people the Williams look after, says:
“I like to see Teresa and David – we go to the football and have fun”

Teresa first became a professional carer with Leeds City Council’s family placement service in 2007. Prior to this she was a teacher at Benton Park School in Rawdon where she was instrumental in setting up a unit for autistic children.

She said: "We are really happy with the way the adaptations have worked out and are now looking forward to children coming to stay with us."

Family Placement short break service offers family linked care to disabled children in Leeds in the homes of 60 trained and approved Family Placement carers. The scheme exists to offer home from home care with lots of opportunities for disabled children to make new friends and have opportunities to undertake different activities. It also enables the children’s families and full time carers for time away from their caring role.

Councillor Stewart Golton, executive member with responsibility for Children’s Services said:
“Carers - like the Williams - provide an invaluable and selfless service to the most vulnerable children of our city.

“It shows such a great dedication that they were happy to go through this disruption to make the lives of these children more comfortable and enjoyable.”

Family Placement currently has four other professional carers who have had their homes adapted; two families in Rothwell, one in Armley and one in Meanwood. The service also has a professional carer who offers short breaks to autistic children. Together the professional short breaks carers offer placement to about 50 Leeds children.

When a child is matched to a carer stays are arranged to fit the needs of the child and their family, as well as the link family. These stays are usually weekends but could be day care, week stays or occasionally longer. The children gain new experiences whilst their family have chance to recharge their batteries.

Projects such as this demonstrate Leeds City Council’s commitment to disabled children and meeting the government’s plans to make more short breaks services accessible to families under the Aiming High for Disabled Children legislation. (*See below for more detail) Funding from Aiming High will be used to purchase an adapted vehicle to enable Teresa and David to take their linked children out and about in Leeds.

If you are interested in becoming a carer, please call 0113 2478584 or go to to find out more.

Notes for editors:
Providing short breaks (beyond 2011) is to become a new legal duty – this received Royal Assent in November 2008. This legislation will enable us to ‘lock-in’ the improvements involved in Aiming High - ensuring that short break services are maintained at a high standard of provision beyond 2011

For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council Press Office, on (0113) 2474713

Audio Preview: Demolition of Brunswick Building for Leeds Arena

This is an audio preview of Councillor Andrew Carter, joint leader and executive board member with responsibility for development, talking about tomorrow's (Tuesday) photo call on the site of the new Leeds Arena where demolition work will commence shortly.

This audio recording runs for 1'45".

Right click on the link to download this file to your local PC.


Armley residents make their mark to combat burglars

Residents of the Wythers estate and adjoining areas in Armley will be shown how to deter burglars and protect their property with liquid DNA by police and PCSOs.

As part of a national day of action on Tuesday 7 April 2009 to raise awareness of burglary, police and council officers, PCSOs and neighbourhood wardens, will be visiting residents in the Wythers area to offer to mark their belongings and household property with special high-tech marking fluid.

The initiative has been co-ordinated by Safer Leeds, the city’s crime and disorder reduction partnership, and Leeds City Council’s West Leeds area management.

The day of action aims to raise public awareness of enforcement work being done to target and crack down on persistent offenders, offer reassurance to burglary victims, and provide crime prevention advice.

The marking fluid is encoded with a unique code which is then registered to the owner of the items. The solution is virtually impossible to remove and does not deteriorate with time. The marking is only visible under ultra-violet light but can be easily found by officers who will be carrying UV torch-lights.

If an item has been stolen, it can easily be traced back to a particular burglary and gives the police valuable evidence in bringing burglars to justice - as well as helping victims to get their belongings back.

As well as visiting local residents to mark belongings, officers will place signs in some of the participating houses, with the owner’s permission, to make it clear to any would-be burglar that local residents are protecting their belongings with marking fluid.

Councillor Les Carter, executive board member responsible for community safety and chair of Safer Leeds, said:
“We are very keen to support new ways to combat domestic burglary. People from the Wythers estate have suffered more than their fair share.

“This initiative will not only prevent would-be burglars, but victims are more likely to get their valuables back as well.”

Inspector Mark Bownass, of the West Inner Neighbourhood Policing Team said:
“This type of property marking is a really effective way of deterring burglars and I would encourage residents to take advantage of this opportunity. It has proven invaluable in helping us to identify stolen property and link recovered items directly to burglaries resulting in the thieves being convicted.

“Of course, taking time to properly review your home security is one of the most important things people can do to protect their property. With this recent period of warmer weather we would like to remind people not to leave doors and windows open as thieves will see that as an open invitation.”

Councillor Janet Harper, chair of the West (Inner) area committee added:
“People in this area of Armley have consistently identified burglary as one of their major concerns, so I am really pleased we have been able to help support this initiative.”

The initiative has been funded by the West North West Homes Leeds, and Leeds Federated Housing Association.

• Safer Leeds is the Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership (CDRP) dedicated to tacking drugs and crime in the city. It is a partnership organisation between a number of local agencies including Leeds City Council, West Yorkshire Police, NHS Leeds, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue and West Yorkshire Police Authority.

[6 APril 2009]

For further information contact:
John Donegan
(0113) 247 4450 (mon-wed am) (0113) 395 1510 (wed pm-fri)

‘Seatbelt on’ to save lives

This month sees the launch of a new road safety campaign aimed at increasing seatbelt use among car users in Leeds.

The council’s road safety team are launching ‘Seatbelt on’ to stress the importance of wearing seatbelts to car users in the city, and will be enlisting the help of primary school children to get the message across. A number of primary schools have been chosen to support the campaign by displaying a banner and distributing leaflets to pupils and parents about seatbelts.

Recent surveys show that in certain areas of the city the proportion of people using seat belts is especially low. In some cases less than 50% of drivers and passengers were found to be using them.

Seatbelt surveys carried out across Harehills in December showed that an average of 39% of children were not wearing seatbelts when they arrived at school in a car. It was also observed that a lot of pupils in the same area were not wearing seatbelts when travelling in taxi’s.

Road safety officers will re-enforce the ‘seatbelt on’ message throughout the year during their visits to schools. They will also carry out more surveys, which should serve as an incentive to children to wear their seatbelts to keep safe and to try to get their school to the top of the seatbelt chart! The police will provide increased enforcement throughout the campaign.

Councillor Stuart Andrew, lead member for travel and transport said:
“The number of people that are putting their lives and the lives of their children at risk by not wearing a seatbelt is a real concern to us. We need adults to be good role models to children by ensuring that they always wear their seatbelts, no matter how short the journey. The outcome of not wearing one could be tragic and its just not worth taking the risk.”


Additional information
The Department of Transport have estimated that 30% of all death and serious injuries can be prevented if people use appropriate restraints in cars.

113 children in Leeds were injured in vehicles during 2008.

For media enquiries please contact:
Claire Macklam, Leeds City Council press office, 0113 395 1578