Monday, 21 November 2011

Inspirational Ishmeal gets the royal seal of approval

"Inspirational Ishmeal Mills receives his award from HRH Princess Royal"

One inspirational young man from Little London has been mixing with royalty this month, thanks to the dedication he has shown to better his life and those of his peers.

Ishmeal Mills, 19, who has been involved with Leeds’ Positive Futures programme was chosen from 1,500 nominations to win the ‘Inspiring Individual’ award at the National Citizen Service awards earlier this month.

The award was presented to him by HRH The Princess Royal at the NCS awards ceremony in London. The princess was very impressed with Ishmeal’s story after she spoke to him at length about his struggle to turn his back on the problem activities his peers were involved in and congratulated him on his involvement with the project.

Ishmeal has been involved with Positive Futures - a Leeds City Council run programme which uses sports and the arts to engage with young people from deprived communities - both as a participant and a volunteer. His dedication and commitment to the programme was recognised by project leaders who nominated him for the award.

Ishmeal lives in Little London and has throughout his life been faced with a number of negative challenges from the community and his peers, including anti-social behaviour, criminal activity and drug and alcohol misuse. But Ishmeal decided to take control of his life and opted to follow a more positive route by choosing to regularly attend sessions run by Positive Futures.

Ishmael was nominated for the dedication he demonstrated throughout this summer when he supported a group of 15-17 year olds who were taking part in the National Citizen Service (the youth aspect of the government’s Big Society) which involved volunteering in the community, working towards accreditation and taking part in residential outings. Ishmeal supported the young people by encouraging them to take part in activities, motivating them, and supporting the project workers. Ishmeal encouraged the youngsters to fully participate in the programme and acted as a positive role model for the group. Because the young people were able to relate to Ishmeal and look up to him, they were able to appreciate the impact his positive life choices had had on his future and have been encouraged to follow in his footsteps.

Ishmeal said:
“I was really happy when I realised I’d been nominated and speechless when I found out I’d won. I couldn’t wait to tell my family. It was great meeting the princess she was a really nice lady and I really enjoyed speaking to her.

“Being part of Positive Futures and helping other young people means a lot to me, I want them to go far in life and it make’s me proud that they look up to me.”

Ishmeal now volunteers on a variety of sessions, assisting the project workers with delivering the activities and supporting the young people. He has also received a recognised boxing qualification from the ABA which has enabled him to get paid employment through the project by helping with boxing sessions across the city.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member responsible or children’s services said:
“What a fantastic accolade for Ishmeal, this award is very well-deserved.

“We need more young people like Ishmeal to stand up and be a positive role model to help break the cycle of low attainment levels and lack of aspiration which are prevalent in the more deprived areas of the city.

“It demonstrates a great strength of character and confidence in himself to turn his back on the lifestyle that many of his peers chose to follow. Well done Ishmeal!”

Councillor Adam Ogilvie, executive member responsible for leisure services said:
“This is a great achievement for Ishmeal and demonstrates the fantastic work the team from Positive Futures are doing to improve the lives of many young people across the city.

“By using sport and the arts to engage with young people from deprived communities, Positive Futures can help them steer clear of crime and anti-social behaviour and on the right path towards gaining qualifications and training, and achieving their aspirations.

“Ishmeal is a very talented sportsman and an inspirational young man and I’m sure he will go far in his chosen profession.”

Positive Futures works with young people aged between 10 and 19, in five Leeds wards Burmantofts, Harehills, Richmond HIll, Seacroft and University and are in the process of extending city wide.

Interviews with Ishmeal can be arranged through Leeds City Council press office.

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

Youngsters ask hard-hitting questions to get best disabled service

A group of young disabled people from Otley took on Alan Sugar’s Apprentice role last month when they gave potential short break service providers a grilling.

To reward them for taking on the very responsible task, members of Otley’s Beehive club received certificates and vouchers at a presentation event last week, organised by Leeds City Council’s youth service.

The six young people, aged between 14 and 25, who have a range of disabilities, formed their own panel to interview representatives from organisations who had applied to provide Leeds City Council with a short breaks service for children and young people with disabilities.

A range of potential providers applied, including the local authority and the voluntary sector. They were assessed through a range of methods, including the young people’s panel. The group worked together before the interviews to decide what questions they wanted to ask and how to set out the room.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member responsible for children’s services said:
“Beehive have shown that when young people are given a real, adult task to do they take it really seriously and work very hard at it.

“In Leeds we have set ourselves the challenge to make Leeds a truly child friendly city, and one of the ways we will succeed in this, is by making sure children and young people have a voice in the things that affect them. This is a great example of how letting young people influence decision-making can really make a difference, both practically and for the youngsters themselves.

“Who better to judge what works best for them and their families, than the people who actually use the service?”

When asked what they thought about the responsibility, the six young people who took part in the interviews, Abbie, Ellie, Alex, Stephen, Tom and Leo, were all very positive about the experience. They said “It gave me confidence, speaking out.” “I enjoyed meeting new people.” “I had a say to change the lives of young people.” “It was good for someone to listen to me.” “I enjoyed the chance to represent young people and help make their lives better.”

The youngsters were joined by family and friends at the presentation event at Cross Green community centre in Otley, where they received their certificates and vouchers from local councillors.

The Beehive group is for young people aged 13 to 25 and meets every Thursday evening at the community centre. For further information about the club or to join please call Archana on 0113 2475656.

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

Men in Leeds to show support for campaign to end violence against women

Next week sees the start of a 16 day international campaign to end violence against women.

Leeds City Council’s domestic violence team is coordinating a city-wide art project to wrap trees in white ribbon to encourage men across the city to show their support for the campaign and pledge they will not commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women.

Each year across the UK, three million women experience violence, and there are many more living with the legacies of past abuse. On average, two women in England and Wales are killed every week by a current or former male partner. This campaign will raise awareness locally and internationally about the issue and get men to commit their support for the campaign.

The main launch event will take place in Park Square, where a number of trees will be wrapped in white ribbon to show people’s support for the campaign.

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All media are invited to the main event to launch the campaign in Leeds on 25 November 2011 at 12.30pm in Park Square. A number of men will be wrapping trees in white ribbon to show their support for the campaign. Councillor Christine MacNiven, along with other representatives will be available for comment. Please contact the press team on 0113 247 4450 to arrange attendance.

******************** Media opportunity ********************

Men and businesses across the city are encouraged to get involved with the event and choose a tree in the city to wrap to show their support. The campaign will run from 25 November 2011 through to 10 December.

Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council executive board member for community safety, said:
“We are proud to be the first city in the country to have been awarded White Ribbon status.

“This campaign is all about highlighting that violence against women is unacceptable and encourages men to show their support.

“I hope to see plenty of people at the launch of the 16 days of action, and to see many of our trees in the city wrapped in white ribbon.”

Leeds was the first city in England to achieve White Ribbon City status in November 2010 and the art project is one way the first anniversary will be celebrated.

To raise awareness of the campaign there will be a number of initiatives taking place in Leeds as well as appeals to businesses, clubs, networks and public sector organisations to raise support for the campaign.

To get involved in the white ribbon campaign and attend the event at Park Square contact the domestic violence team at Leeds City Council on 0113 395 2140 or email

For more about the national campaign visit

Notes to editors:

The White Ribbon Campaign is an international campaign by men to end violence against women. It recognises that most men are not violent towards women and encourages all men to show their support.

Violence against women is defined as ‘any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women and children including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life’.


For media enquiries, please contact;
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450