Thursday, 26 January 2012

Community links helped by migrant volunteers

Leeds City Council held an event this week to acknowledge the achievements of a group of volunteers from different migrant backgrounds, who recently completed a 12-week course in helping others new to Leeds.

Nineteen representatives, originating from nine different countries and collectively speaking 20 different languages, took part in the Migrant Access Points training programme. They are the third group to have completed this training.

The training is delivered by an innovative partnership between Leeds City Council, Touchstone, NHS Leeds, Job Centre Plus, Feel Good Factor and Chapeltown Citizens Advice Bureau. It provides migrant volunteers with the skills to help newer migrants quickly adjust to life in Leeds by providing information on a range of essential services such as housing, employment, education, personal budgeting, health and wellbeing and social care.

The council’s chief executive, Tom Riordan, and James Rogers, assistant chief executive were there to congratulate the successful trainees, and Councillor Ghulam Hussain, equalities champion, presented them with their certificates.

Councillor Peter Gruen, deputy leader and executive board member with responsibility for neighbourhoods and housing said:
“The most effective way of helping new migrants to understand how public services work is to help them to help themselves. It is easier for them and far more cost effective for us if people are directed to the right place, so they get the right service first time, than if they are passed from pillar to post.

“I would like to thank and congratulate the individuals who took part in this training programme and earned their certificates. At a time when funding is tight, these groups are finding innovative ways to continue to help people who really need it.”

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive board member with responsibility for adult health and social care said:
“Leeds has a rich multi-cultural heritage with new people regularly arriving from many different places, both within the UK and abroad. Many have no family links to the area and can find it very daunting to put down roots. The community links established by the Migrant Access Points project are a big help to people in this situation.

“The skills and knowledge that these volunteers have learned will ensure that migrants are helped to adapt quickly to life in Leeds.”

Dipti Bhatt is a migrant community organiser, and has a range of skills that she uses to help people in her local community as well as new migrants to Leeds. She said:
“As a migrant lawyer from India, I have volunteered in a law firm in Leeds, which has given me knowledge on law practice in England.

“The opportunity of attending the Migrant Community Organisers training programme complimented my experience and equipped me with skills and new contacts to signpost, advocate and support members of my community.

“My knowledge in Indian law and English law has been beneficial to those members of my community who are NRIs (Non Resident Indians). In addition I was able to bring this knowledge to the law firm I volunteered with sharing accurate information”


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

Slide away as Ice Cube returns to Leeds

Caption: Leeds City Council executive member for leisure Cllr Adam Ogilvie (left in top image) and Yorkshire Evening Post editor Paul Napier (right in top image) try out the new Capital FM Snow Slide

Thrill-seekers will be able to take on a brand new challenge in Leeds from this Friday as the Ice Cube opens on Millennium Square.

The popular winter attraction managed by Leeds City Council returns to the city centre from Friday 27 January to Sunday 26 February after being revamped complete with an eye-catching new addition – the Capital FM Snow Slide.

The 40-metre long dry slope snow tubing run, named after Ice Cube’s official radio station 105 Capital FM, offers the ultimate adrenaline rush for anyone brave enough to take on the daunting six-metre drop. To ride the snow slide individually, those taking part must be above 1.1m in height or smaller children (aged two years and above) must sit securely in the lap of their parent or guardian. All tickets for the snow slide must be purchased in advance (details below) or from the onsite ticket office before joining the queue.

The snow slide complements the main and nursery ice rinks as well as another new element to this year’s Ice Cube – the Glacier Run Experience motion simulator, which offers a first-hand experience for up to 20 people at a time of either a thrilling four-minute high-speed bobsleigh or extreme ski run.

Now in its 12th year, Ice Cube has been given a makeover as a response to visitor feedback and this year features a smaller, more family-focused main rink running alongside the nursery rink for younger children and reduced prices with further savings for LEEDSCard and Breezecard holders.

The attraction is also supported for the first time this year by radio station 105 Capital FM who will be providing the soundtrack to all skating sessions via 'Capital Ice Radio’, while further backing comes from the Yorkshire Evening Post.

The booking system has also been revamped, with tickets now able to be pre-booked for any skating session at the official website

The changes continue with a new-look Ice Cube café, which offers refreshments to both skaters and visitors provided by local restaurateur Casa Mia at the ‘Dolomites Café’ inspired by the spirit of the Italian Alps.

Places at any ice skating session and open tickets for the snow slide can now be booked online at or by calling the call centre on 0843 208 1851, open 9.30am - 8pm Monday to Saturday and 10am - 8pm on Sundays. Tickets for both the ice rink and snow slide will also be able to be purchased (subject to availability) from the new event ticket office on Millennium Square which will be open from Friday 27 January. Admission for the bobsleigh and ski simulator can only be purchased at the ride upon arrival.

Prices for the ice skating sessions are £7 Adult (18 years or over), £5.50 LEEDSCard and concessions (students, seniors, disabled any young persons aged 13-17 in full-time education) & £5 Breezecard and children 12 years and under. Tickets for the snow slide are priced at £2 per ride or £5 for 3 rides and admission for the simulator is priced at £3 per ride with discounts available for LEEDSCard and Breezcard holders for both attractions.

A limited number of Ice skating lessons are also still available for Wednesday night sessions open to people of all levels and all ages from beginners to more advanced skaters, following the National Ice Skating Association (NISA) Skate UK programme are run by qualified skating professionals.

Priced at £48 per person, the tuition sessions will run for four weeks with places able to be booked by calling the City Centre Box office on 0113 224 3801 which is open Monday - Saturday between 10am and 6pm, or for further details visit the website at

Leeds City Council executive member for leisure Councillor Adam Ogilvie said:

“I’m sure like everyone else I have been watching with interest at the new-look Ice Cube has been taking shape on Millennium Square. The finished attraction looks fantastic and without doubt the snow slide is going to well worth watching in its own right.

“We think people are going to really enjoy this year’s Ice Cube so together with our event partners 105 Capital FM and the Yorkshire Evening Post we look forward to seeing lots of people coming down to Millennium Square and having a great time.”

105 Capital FM breakfast show presenter JoJo show said:

“We are really excited about partnering the Ice Cube and with the new Capital FM Snow Slide there’s now something for those who can’t skate either.

“I for one am very excited about getting my skates on, and I can’t wait to chuck the boys down the slide. Danny and I will be there this Friday at the 6:30pm and 7:15pm sessions so make sure you come along and say hi!”

For full information including pricing and timetables for all the attractions at Ice Cube 2012, visit


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Senior communications officer,
Leeds City Council, Tel 0113 247 5472

Australia’s Olympic diving stars heading for Leeds

Caption: Olympic champion Matthew Mitcham (top two images) and world championships silver medallist Alexandra Croak are two of the star names likely to be coming to Leeds (all images courtesy of Diving Australia)

Leeds is marking Australia Day today with the announcement that the diving stars from Down Under are the latest athletes to choose the city as their training base ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Diving Australia have confirmed they will be sending a group of approximately nine divers to train at the Aquatics Centre at the John Charles Centre for Sport after choosing Leeds as the preferred location to complete their final preparations in July before heading to London.

The squad coming to Leeds is expected to feature superstar Matthew Mitcham, who is the reigning Olympic 10-metre Champion and a major rival of Britain’s own gold medal hope Tom Daley.

Mitcham shot to prominence when he caused a sensation at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing by recording the highest single-dive score in Olympic history in the final round to snatch the gold medal and in doing so prevented China from claiming a clean sweep of all the diving gold medals at the Games. The 23-year-old from Brisbane became an overnight superstar in his homeland as a result, even having a stamp produced in his honour to celebrate his achievement of becoming the first Australian male Olympic diving champion since 1924.

Mitcham claimed four silver medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, losing out to Daley in the 10m platform event, but was forced to miss last year’s FINA World Aquatics Championships in Shanghai due to back and abdominal injuries. Now recovered, he is heading back to form as he begins his qualifying campaign for London.

Also likely to be in the squad coming to Leeds is 32-year-old Loudy Wiggins, who is attempting to qualify for a fourth Olympic Games after coming out of retirement. The bronze medallist at both the Sydney Games in 2000 and Athens in 2004 opted to end her career after a calf injury forced her to miss the Beijing Games in 2008, but after three years away from the sport her return has started well with victory in the Australian Open Championships shortly before Christmas.

Other members of the squad likely to be coming to Leeds include Alexandra Croak, who made history in 2010 by becoming the first Australian to win gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in two different sports, having secured victory in the 2002 Games in Manchester as a gymnast. The 27-year-old from Sydney is also a dual Olympian having competed in her home Olympics in 2000 in gymnastics before switching to diving in 2003 and going on to compete at the 2008 Beijing Games as a diver. Croak also claimed a silver medal at last year’s FINA World Aquatics Championships in China.

Also with Olympic experience is Melissa Wu, who became the youngest-ever Australian Olympic diver and secured a superb silver medal in the Beijing Games in 2008 at just 16 years of age. Coupled with her previous success at the world championships and Commonwealth Games (where she won a silver medal aged 13), this meant Wu had completed the clean sweep of medalling at every major international championship – all by the age of 16. Her medal success has since continued with gold and silver at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and silver at last year’s world championships.

Rounding out the squad pending qualification are likely to be Sharleen Stratton, who won a bronze medal at last year’s world championships and competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Anabelle Smith who won a world championship bronze medal last year, and 2010 Commonwealth Games medallists Grant Nel and Ethan Warren.

Chief executive officer of Diving Australia Mary Godden said:

“We are delighted to have reached agreement with Leeds City Council for the use of the Aquatics Centre at the John Charles Centre for Sport in the lead-up to the London 2012 Olympic Games. The Aquatics Centre is a world-class venue and the Australian team is looking forward to using Leeds as a ‘home base’ during our build-up for the Olympics.”

Leeds City Council executive member for leisure Councillor Adam Ogilvie said:

“This is more fantastic news for Leeds to attract another major sporting power in the form of the Australia diving squad. Everyone knows what a competitive sporting nation Australia is, so for them to choose Leeds as their ideal base to train before the Games is a massive compliment to our facilities and our city. We very much look forward to welcoming them in July.”

Chairman of the London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG) Seb Coe said:

"Training camps are a key part of the preparation for the Games. The Aquatics Centre at the John Charles Centre for Sport will provide a vital service to ensure that these athletes can prepare for competition while also engaging local people with sport and culture. This is great news for Leeds as it will not only bring benefit to the city but also help bring London 2012 to the heart of the community."

Chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire and chair of Yorkshire Gold Gary Verity said:

"This agreement is another fantastic coup for Leeds and is further proof of the world-class sporting facilities we have in Yorkshire. We look forward to welcoming the Australia diving squad to Leeds this summer and will make sure they discover all we have to offer."

Along with the team from Australia, Leeds will also be hosting divers from Russia and the USA at the Aquatics Centre at the John Charles Centre for Sport. There will also be athletes from Serbia, Canada and Holland coming to Leeds ahead of the 2012 London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, while a team of approximately 300 athletes and officials from China will be using the city as its European pre-Games training base. Discussions are continuing with a number of other countries.

For more information on Leeds and its work towards the London 2012 Games, visit

Notes to editors:

Leeds Gold is the city’s official brand to support the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. It has been developed to be used by individuals and organisations in the city in connection with any projects, events or activities that contribute to, and capitalise on, all the opportunities that the hosting of the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games present. It will provide an ‘umbrella’ brand that will link projects and events together and make a clear association with, and help celebrate, the London 2012 Games. For further information please go to

The Yorkshire region’s activities around the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games are being co-ordinated by Yorkshire Gold which is supported by key stakeholders from across the region. For further information visit


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Senior communications officer,
Leeds City Council, Tel 0113 247 5472