Friday, 5 June 2009

Leeds' own superhero turns up the heat on saving energy

Caption: Leeds' own energy-saving superhero, Thermo, with (from left) Alex Best (10), Karis Hermann (11), Laura Brayshaw (9) and Luke Kerrigan (10) of Five Lanes Primary School

Audio of the above video is available here:

Is it a bird? Is it a plane?! Introducing the hero that’s on a mission to tackle the causes of climate change in Leeds: Thermo!

Schools and neighbourhoods in the city should be on the lookout for the boiler-suited superhero, who is asking local people to sign his pledge to cut their energy use with simple steps that could land a blow in the fight against climate change.

The brainchild of the Leeds City Council’s Fuelsavers team, Thermo comes with his own heat-sensitive camera which beams its picture directly to a chest mounted screen – so people can see the ‘hotspots’ in the home, school and office that show appliances using up energy while left on stand-by.

Thermo popped in to meet the pupils of Five Lanes Primary School this week and spread the message. Thermo will soon have a blog and space on Facebook, or can be contacted at

The Thermo Pledge encourages people to:
• Turn down or turn off – turn down or turn off heating or appliances on stand-by
• Low carb or no carb – use renewable electricity and energy efficient appliances
• Help save my mate Cli-mate – do everything they can to save energy and cut carbon

Leeds saved 88,000 tonnes of housing-generated CO2 last year and the Thermo Pledge seeks to take this to the next level – assisting the city's Climate Change Strategy objectives to achieve better than a 2% reduction in CO2 from housing per year.

The council’s Fuelsavers team gave advice to 32,000 Leeds households last year, organised 4,500 heating grants and 16,000 insulation improvements. Homes in Leeds emit 6.3 tonnes of CO2 on average – more than the national average of 6 tonnes. Up to 20% of this can be saved by taking simple steps to insulate walls and roofs, or by turning heating down or off when safe to do so.

In October, a ‘thermal over-flight’ will take place in the skies about Leeds to show which roofs need insulation – this imaging will be available on a website for residents or will be used to highlight energy waste by the council’s door-to-door team.

It will coincide with a door-to-door initiative 70,206 household to bring 10,000 households to insulation and a ‘drive-by thermal survey’ of 8,000 Leeds homes to assist householders with wall insulation.

Councillor James Monaghan, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for environmental services, said:
“Thermo is a fantastic way to bring the energy saving message to young people in our schools.
“There are simple things that people can do to save energy and cut carbon – buying energy efficient appliances, switching off electrical equipment on standby, installing proper insulation in their homes. All these things contribute to cutting Leeds’ carbon footprint and combating climate change.
“Thermo will be visiting schools and neighbourhoods across the city and I encourage everyone to sign up to the Pledge.”

For media enquiries, please contact:
Michael Molcher, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3937

A selection of 'thermal' images to show how appliances can give off huge amounts of heat while left on standby:

Leeds family open their home to give disabled people a break

A Leeds couple have agreed to have their home adapted to help them provide short breaks for disabled people.

Vivian and Mark Wortham of Moortown are one of a small group of professional short breaks carers in the city, and are the first family who have agreed to have their home adapted so they can provide this important service to adults.

Media Opportunity:
On Monday 8 June at 12:00-13:30, members of the media are invited to attend the official ‘opening’ of Vivian and Mark Wortham’s newly adapted property at 18 Stainburn View, LS17 6PS. Members of Leeds City Council’s family placement team and person who uses the service will be available for interview. The work takes place during National Carers Week, which runs between 8 and 13 June 2009.

Councillor Peter Harrand, executive board member for Adult health and Social care said:
“Carers like the Worthams provide an invaluable and selfless service to some of our city’s most vulnerable people.

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

Vivian and Mark have been carers on the Family Placement short breaks scheme since 1997. They have four teenage children and they initially built a loft extension in order to be able to open their home for people, who because of illness or care support needs, required short breaks away from their usual routines. It also gives the people who look after them the opportunity to have a rest.

Mark works full time as a fireman and Vivian is a qualified state registered nurse. Everyone who stays with Vivian Mark and their children say that they are treated as one of the family in an ordinary home from home environment.

Vivian said
“Our children enjoy having people to stay and they treat them as guests. They easily adapt to different needs and personalities, and our whole family are involved and committed to the service.”

Last September Leeds City Council found that Vivian was considering taking a long break from her job as a district nurse and offered to support Vivian to become a professional carer.

Vivian and Mark agreed to have a ground floor extension added to their family home with equipment that would help people who have mobility and a high-level of personal care needs.

The building work was completed in May 2009 and the family are now ready ready to receive the new guests into their home.

Vicky Zaremba, Vivian and Mark’s key worker says:
“A lot of people who haven’t provided this sort of care before can worry about being overwhelmed, but we are there to help them.

“With Vivian and Mark, we have been able to make the adaptations they needed to make their home suitable for the people they look after. We make regular visits, and we are always available on the end of the phone if there’s a problem.

“It’s great to provide this support, since people can find family placement caring very rewarding.”

Leeds City Council’s Family Placement service has successfully offered a service to Leeds people in need of a supported break in a family environment for over 30 years.

The service works with fully checked, trained and highly committed people who offer flexible breaks in their home or in the service users own home.

The service aims to be flexible and can match service users with family placement carers who can offer support during the day, overnight, weekends or for longer breaks.

Anyone interested in finding out more, either to use the service or to become one of our carers, can contact us on O113 247 8659 or 247 8762, or email:

• The work to Vivian and Mark’s home was carried out with help from Care and Repair. Care & Repair Leeds is the Home Improvement Agency for Leeds and has been running for 22 years. It is an independent agency with charitable status, accredited by Leeds Supporting People and covering the whole of the Leeds Metropolitan District Area. The aim of the agency is to promote independent living for older people, disabled adults and children, and people on low incomes. It achieved this by providing a wide range of cost-effective, efficient, client-centred services, which are flexible and can be adapted to meet changing needs.


For media enquiries please contact:
John Donegan, Leeds City Council Press Office (0113) 247 4450

Leeds hosts major international conference on community safety

Leeds hosts a major conference on safer communities next week (9-10 June 2009).

The annual conference of the National Community Safety Network, will bring together people from all over the world with a common interest in promoting safer communities.

Over 350 people attended last year's event, representing a range of sectors including local authorities, fire, police, ambulance, housing, security, drugs, alcohol, criminal justice and youth work professionals.

The Leeds conference is supported by Safer Leeds, the city’s Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership, and Leeds City Council.

Former deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Brian Paddick, is this year’s MC. He will introduce a packed programme of speakers, workshops, debates, master classes and networking opportunities, providing the perfect forum for sharing expertise and thinking across a range of issues that can make a real difference to communities throughout the UK.

Councillor Les Carter, executive board member for community safety and chair of Safer Leeds said:
“I’m delighted that we will be hosting this prestigious conference in Leeds. We are carrying out some excellent work in the city, particularly in the management of offenders and tackling knife crime, which we are looking forward to sharing with colleagues.

“We will also be taking careful note of success stories from other parts of the world to see what lessons can be learned for Leeds.”

Jane Mowat, Chair, of the National Community Safety Network said:
“Community safety moves further and further up the agenda every year, and there is a huge amount of work going into making our communities safer.

“The conference brings these people together to share their experiences, thinking and expertise with people across other sectors whose goals are the same. Our aim is to integrate the vast amount of work that is going into making our communities safer, learning from others to improve community safety across the board.”

There will be an international element to this year's conference. Speakers will include Margaret Shaw, director of analysis and exchange at the International Centre for the Prevention of Crime in Montreal; and Elizabeth Johnston, deputy director at the European Forum for Urban Safety (EFUS). They will be sharing their experiences and encouraging joint international working.

The programme will also include a session with Dr Tom Manion, current chief executive of Irwell Valley Housing Association one of the country’s most influential housing professionals. He'll be joined by Adam Crawford, Professor of Criminology at the University of Leeds to look at ‘neighbourhood happiness’ and explore the relationship between research, policy and practice in the fields of community safety as well as the regulation of anti-social behaviour.”

Ththe conference will also include sessions on 'Graffiti – Public Art or Vandalism?', as well as offender management and Leeds’ award-winning ‘Weapons Awareness’ programme.

• 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.
• The NCSN is the leading practitioner-led organisation supporting those involved in promoting community safety/crime reduction throughout the United Kingdom. Currently the NCSN supports and represents over 400 members in the public, private and voluntary sectors, all with a common interest in promoting safer communities. NCSN can be contacted through Jan Pyne, tel 01244 322314
• Brian Paddick will be the conference MC. Before his 2007 retirement he was Deputy Assistant Commissioner for the Metropolitan Police, and the national lead for the police service on disability and mental health issues. He has performed many high-profile roles, including police spokesperson for the Funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales and after the London bombings on 7 July 2005, where he worked closely with the Muslim community.


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

Kirkstall Abbey turns back the clock to medieval times

Kirkstall Abbey will host a weekend of displays by The Clarence Household Re-Enactment group to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the accession of Henry VIII on the 13th and 14th of June.

The weekends’ displays will demonstrate the social and domestic aspects of British medieval life such as cooking, candle-dipping, fabric crafts and games. Audience members will be encouraged to interact with the performers and ask questions.

The Clarence Household, based in Huddersfield, are a re-enactment society specialising in displaying the social and military aspects of the late medieval period across England, particularly the era of the Wars of the Roses from 1455-1487.

During the summer months the group travel to castles, houses and battlefields across Britain and Europe, and put on fully authentic displays for the publics’ entertainment and education.

The organisers say it’s a chance to experience the world that Henry VIII was born into, the times that shaped him as a young man and what England was like as he ascended to the throne 500 years ago. It will be a snapshot of this dynamically changing time in history as portrayed by the Clarence Household.

Kirkstall Abbey is one of the most complete examples of a Cistercian Abbey in Britain, boasting historical architecture as well as wildlife and greenery.

The Abbey has almost reached completion of a multi-million Restoration Project supported by a £4.1 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Councillor John Procter, executive board member with responsibility for leisure said:

“We are glad to welcome back the Clarence Household to Kirkstall Abbey in order to celebrate the life of such an important historical figure.

“They put on a similar show last summer which proved to be popular with both visitors and staff when the abbey was brought to life in flamboyant fashion.

”Henry VIII is such a well known character – both to young and old – and this is a great way of experiencing what life was like when he was on the throne.”

For media enquiries please contact:
Andy Carter, Leeds City Council Press Office (0113) 395 0393

Notes to Editors

For details about events, opening times and other information about Kirkstall Abbey go to