Thursday, 13 January 2011

Exciting new volunteering project launches at Osmondthorpe Resource Centre

To mark the European Year of Volunteering, a council resource centre for disabled people is giving its customers the opportunity to take part in a project to help them develop the skills they need to get involved in volunteering.

The Osmondthorpe Resource Centre enlisted the help of the Workers Education Association (WEA) to create the ‘making moves’ project. The aim of this is to help customers at the centre to develop new skills and qualities which will enable them to go on and take part in a volunteering placement.

Customers that sign up to the project will complete two 10-week courses. The first of these will focus on personal qualities, potential barriers and how these can be overcome in a positive way. The second course will focus on accessing volunteering placements for the customers, and will involve the organisations that have expressed an interest in being involved. It will introduce them to the Osmondthorpe Resource Centre and advise them of what would be expected of them if they were to offer a placement to one or more of the customers.

The main aim of the project is to give customers at the centre the opportunity to experience something that is potentially out of their comfort zone, and that could possibly act as a stepping stone into more volunteering or even paid employment. Ongoing support will be offered to customers throughout the process.

Stuart Simmons, manager of the Osmondthorpe Resource Centre said:
“We’re always looking for new opportunities to offer to our customers, who are predominantly people who have become disabled through brain injury or following a stroke.

“It can be really difficult for people to come to terms with a new disability later in life, and people often feel despair that they no longer have the same opportunities to do what other people take for granted.

“I hope that the customers that take part in this project find it an empowering experience and that it gives them the confidence to try volunteering, which could open up many more doors for them in the future.”

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive board member with responsibility for volunteering in Leeds said:
“Osmondthorpe Resource Centre has been successfully helping to rehabilitate people after life-changing accidents and illnesses for over 21 years.

“The centre provides outstanding support and opportunities for the people that use it, and this project will allow customers to experience a whole range of different situations that society doesn't always allow.

“Volunteering is for everybody. We all have something to contribute to society, and its vital that everyone is given an equal opportunity to get involved. I hope that the project goes well and look forward to hearing about its success later in the year.”

Additional info

Osmondthorpe Resource Centre has been helping to rehabilitate people after life-changing accidents or illness for over 21 years, by providing a range of opportunities including education, work skills training, day-to-day independent living skills and emotional support as well as an award winning Woodtech project, creating employment opportunities.

The ‘making moves’ project is supported by the inner east area committee.

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

Big improvements in performance as bins service getting back on track

Major progress has been made this week to get Leeds’ bin collections back on track as collection rates vastly improve and reports of missed bins are dealt with rapidly.

Refuse collectors have made big inroads into backlogs after Sunday’s one-off catch-up day, then making further reductions every day this week.

Council bosses are confident that collections are getting to the stage where the vast majority of binmen will receive their new performance-related pay in the coming week.

Progress is such that garden waste collections will be re-introduced from next week, after having been called off over Christmas to allow crews to focus on black and green bins.

Cllr Tom Murray, executive member for environmental services, said:

“We’ve been getting our best results yet under the new system over the past few days. There’s a real commitment throughout the service and the wider council to make this system work.

“The progress is significant enough to allow us to be able to re-start the garden waste brown bin service from next week and the vast majority of refuse collectors will be qualifying for their new performance-related pay this month and we’ll be taking it up with anyone who doesn’t.”

Currently the vast majority of calls to the council’s contact centre on 0113- 222 4406 are being answered with little or no waiting time.

Back-up staff are used as a matter of course by Leeds City Council’s refuse collection service. Between April to October 2010 this was an average of 106 workers at any one time; in the most recent figures for November and December this averaged out at 105 people.

What has changed is a greater emphasis on use of agency staff instead of paying overtime to council-employed workers. This has changed from 43 agency and 63 overtime in April-October to 84 agency and 21 overtime in November-December.

While this creates a bigger bill for agency workers, it actually costs the public less as employing agency staff works out cheaper than paying in-house staff overtime.

For media enquiries please contact:
Donna Cox, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3335


Minister to be told of the ‘pain’ of budget cuts in Leeds

A delegation from Leeds City Council is today asking the government to allocate more resources to the city.

Deputy leader, Councillor Richard Lewis, chief executive Tom Riordan and director of resources Alan Gay are meeting housing minister Grant Shapps from the Department of Communities and Local Government, to discuss the council’s grant settlement.

The amount of money Leeds gets from the government to spend on services is expected to be cut by £150 million between now and 2015.

The council will have to save £50 million in the next financial year alone and then another £25m in 2012/2013 because the government is front loading the cuts, meaning sharper reductions are needed in the first two years.

Leeds has serious concerns about front loading and argues that spreading the cuts more evenly across four years would be fairer and more manageable.

The delegation will also tell Mr Shapps about the demographic pressures facing the city as it grows in population and services are faced with increasing demand. This makes the cuts in funding even harder to deal with.

Councillor Richard Lewis, deputy leader of Leeds City Council, said:
“It’s really important that Mr Shapps understands the enormity of what his government is asking us to do and the impact it will have on the people of Leeds.
“Cutting the council’s grant and expecting us to make most of the savings up front is unfair and draconian.
“We’re talking about economic measures the like of which have not been seen since the 1930s – and that’s going to be painful.
“We hope to persuade the minister to help us protect frontline services. Without this assistance it is inevitable that many of our residents will lose out as a result of these spending cuts.”

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