Friday, 15 June 2012

Pupils get plaudits for perfect prose - media opportunity

Pupils who have been taking part in a creative writing competition will be awarded for their poetic and literary efforts at a civic ceremony next week.

Hundreds of children from primary schools across the city submitted entries into the Arooj creative writing competition, with 34 pupils being short listed as potential winners. The winner in each category will be announced next Tuesday 19 June, at a special ceremony at Leeds Civic Hall.

The competition, organised by Leeds City Council’s Equalities and Entitlement team, is part of a project which aims to increase attainment in pupils of Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage and is open to all primary aged pupils in Leeds. The aim of the Arooj project is to work closely with the 12 primary schools with the largest populations of these pupils, to help to close the gap in attainment.

Media opportunity
When: Tuesday 19 June at 3.10pm to 3.30pm
Where: Banqueting Suite, Leeds Civic Hall, Portland Crescent, LS1 1UR
The winners of the creative writing competition will be awarded their prizes by the Lord Mayor of Leeds.

The Lord Mayor of Leeds Councillor Anne Castle will present the awards to winners and highly commended pupils in each category. The winners will receive a book and a special notebook to encourage their writing talents, highly commended entries will all receive a book.

Entertainment will be provided by pupils from schools involved in the Arooj project, including singing, dancing and poetry recitals. John Siddique, a renowned Yorkshire author and Ghulam Farid, a talented calligrapher who have both worked with the pupils during the year will also recite poetry and give a calligraphy demonstration which the audience will be encouraged to participate in.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive board member for children’s services said:

“Well done to everyone who entered the competition, the standard was extremely high and reading some of the poems it is difficult to believe they were written by primary school pupils, which is a credit to the pupils, schools and project leaders.

“We want all children in Leeds to perform to the best of their ability. Projects like this make education fun, interesting and relevant for pupils whose attainment and attendance may be low, and encourages them to look at their own heritage and community as a source of creativity."

Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage pupils are the largest ethnic minority group in Leeds comprising 6% of the total school population. However attainment levels for these pupils remains below their peers both in Leeds and nationally.

The Equalities and Entitlement team have developed a creative curriculum project with a focus on Muslim heritage, which has had a dramatic impact in terms of engagement and motivation of pupils and parents as well as increasing attainment and attendance.

The team has also been developing school to school support between the 12 schools involved in the project so that they can benefit from each other’s expertise.

The categories for the Arooj creative writing competition are:
KS1 (5-7 year olds) Short Story, Poetry, Calligraphy
Lower KS2: (8 – 9 year olds) Short Story, Poetry, Calligraphy
Upper KS2: (10-11year olds) , Short Story, Poetry, Calligraphy

Poems written by Leeds primary school pupils for the Arooj creative writing competition:

Through the door

Through the door of day, I found the darkness of night,
Through the door of soorow, I found the pain of joy,
Through the door of trust, I found the shivers of betrayal,
Through the door of whisper, I found the thunderous shout.
Through the door of eternity, I found the shortness of time,
Through the door of delight, I found the spirit of disappointment,
Through the door of happiness, I found the weeping of souls,
Through the door of hell, I found the brightness of heaven.

By Keearna Emett, Carr Manor PS

The skin you live in

Its polar bear white skin
And your dynamite bright skin,
Light up your life skin
The angels at night skin.

Its angel pink skin
And give her a wink skin,
How about we link
The time where we think skin?

Its crispy white skin
And a nice sight skin,
Its such a delight skin
Just like your bright skin!

Its lovely jam-tarted skin
And your lonely hearted skin
When you fall out with friends
And then you are parted skin.

By Nasir Miah, Hunslet Moor PS

Bad Day

I was walking
In the playground.
Some person
Called me names.
I said likewise.
He came up to me.
We started fighting.
He hit me.
I hit him back..
I really regret
That moment.
I felt embarrassed when the teacher came.
I was boiling with anger.
It wasn’t my fault.
Was it?

By Quddus Iqbal, Hovingham PS

The Secret Garden

If you take a child-like mind
Look within, and you will find,
Eager yearning, thirst to know
All the tools to think and grow.

But be careful what you sow
What you plant is what you grow
Some TV leaves thorns and weeds
Children need much better seeds.

By Khadija Ahmed, Hunslet Moor PS

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

Young people help shape sexual health services with mystery shop

Young people who helped to assess the quality of sexual health services in west Leeds and the city centre by posing as ‘mystery shoppers’ have shared their findings with senior council and health officials.

Young people aged 15-18 from the Farsley Health and Wellbeing group took part in 44 mystery shops across seven young people’s sexual health services, last year.

The quality and detail of their findings now means the group have been commissioned to deliver a peer education training session to new recruits and help undertake a repeat ‘shop’ this summer.

A formal presentation of the mystery shop experience and their findings was delivered by members of the original group earlier this week, to key council and health officials including the head of commissioning in children’s services and youth services lead officer, as well as commissioners from NHS Airedale, Bradford and Leeds. Also in attendance to hear the presentation were colleagues from Leeds City Council’s children’s services, a member of the Youth Parliament and service providers.

Young people were trained to act as mystery shoppers assessing services including pharmacies, Contraceptive and Sexual Health clinics for under 25’s and C-Card sites providing a community based sexual health drop-in provision.

The sexual health mystery shops assessed areas including access and environment, confidentiality and consent, staff training, skills, attitudes and values.

The aim of the project was to enable young people to identify improvements to local sexual health services and to increase their involvement in decisions about their health.

All services that were assessed received feedback and were given the opportunity to speak directly to the young people involved. The detail, quality and consistency of the mystery shops and the recommendations made were such that significant improvements have been delivered in two key sexual health services as a result.

The group report that they enjoyed the experience and are keen to share and build on their learning.

Councillor Lisa Mulherin, executive member responsible for health and wellbeing said:
"This project is a great example of the benefits of young people as partners in service improvement. The mystery shopping experience has helped look at how we support young people and how young people themselves can play an active role in shaping the support they receive.

“By involving young people it is hoped that services will reflect the needs of their peers so that in future people have greater confidence in using contraceptive services in the city. We want to thank all the young people who have taken part in the project, their feedback has been invaluable.”

One of the participants commented: “I found the challenge quite interesting and quite fun. If I was to do it again I would want a bigger list of clinics to go to so I could go to more”

Additional benefits have been the increased awareness and confidence in the availability, range and quality of local services amongst young people who use the services.

The completed ‘Mystery Shop report’, along with a description of the project will be submitted to the Young People Now awards at the end of June.

This project, supported by the Leeds City Council’s youth service, was funded by the NHS Airedale, Bradford & Leeds Sexual Health Team and commissioned by Leeds City Council children’s commissioning team.


What is mystery shopping?

A mystery shop is the use of individuals trained to experience and measure any customer service process, by acting as potential customers and reporting back on their experiences in a detailed and objective way. Mystery shopping explores the actual experience at a snapshot in time and records specific details of that particular experience. As such, it can be a powerful tool for service managers and help to highlight clear action points for improving service delivery.

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

Take over 2 at Leeds council for Learning Disability Week

Around 70 people with a learning disability are set to take over the council chamber at Leeds Civic Hall on Monday 18 June in Take 2, the city’s high profile launch for Learning Disability Week 2012.

They will be joined by the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Anne Castle, other councillors, VIP guests from the public sector, representatives from learning disability services and their supporters, to hear speeches by people with a learning disability about the issues that matter most to them. They will also take the opportunity to question councillors about their roles and discuss how they can improve links with each other.

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

Media are welcome to attend Take 2, the Great Council Chamber Takeover event on Monday 18 June, 10am to 12.30pm at Leeds Civic Hall by prior arrangement.
There will be an opportunity to take photographs and time allocated at the end to speak to delegates, organisers and councillors.

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

A steering group of people with a learning disability has devised the event in partnership with the council, Mencap and Tenfold, the learning disability voluntary sector forum for Leeds.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive board member responsible for adult social care said:
“This event is a great opportunity for people with a learning disability to get a feel for how decisions are made in local government, and I hope it will give them more of an interest in local politics and encourage them to use their vote.

“I strongly believe that in order to feel empowered and confident about tackling issues people need to have a good understanding about how power works. I hope that this second council chamber takeover day will help to achieve this and encourage people to get more involved in local politics.”

Susan Hanley, co-chair of the Learning Disability Partnership Board said:
"It’s a big honour to be given the chamber for our event. It shows that our opinions matter and it helps us get the message across to people who can improve life for people with a learning disability."

This event marks the start of a busy week (18 to 24 June) that includes the launch of a new safe places scheme for people with a learning disability, an evening of Midsummer’s night magic at Meanwood Valley Urban Farm, possibly the biggest picnic ever seen at Temple Newsam House and a free rugby skills workshop with Leeds Rhinos players. There is an exhibition of art produced by people with a learning disability called Imagine 2012 in the Art Space at Leeds City Library until 29 June.

For more information about events taking place during Learning Disability Awareness Week in Leeds, please visit

Additional info
About learning disability

A learning disability is caused during or shortly after birth. It is always lifelong and affects someone's intellectual and social development. It used to be called mental handicap but this term is outdated and offensive. Learning disability is not a mental illness. The term learning difficulty is often incorrectly used interchangeably with learning disability.

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