Thursday, 18 October 2012

Shared Lives Week celebrated in Leeds

Shared Lives carer Dorothy Ryder (centre) being recognised for her contribution to the Leeds Shared Lives Scheme by Sandie Keene, director of adult social services and Councillor Lucinda Yeadon

Shared Lives carer Sheila Booth sharing a coffee and a chat with Betty Hoggart

Carers in Leeds, who open up their homes to offer respite breaks to adults with support needs, have been invited to a celebration event on Friday 19 October to mark the first national Shared Lives week.

Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Ann Castle, will welcome carers, customers and staff of the Leeds Shared Lives scheme to the coffee morning at Oxford Place Centre on Friday, 19 October, 10am to 12 noon.

The Leeds Shared Lives Scheme provides short breaks for adults in the home of a shared lives carer, or support and companionship during the day either in the carer’s or individual’s own home for a few hours a day. There is also a night awake service available for people who need attention during the night, which allows their own family carer to catch up with their sleep.

The scheme was established in 1978 (originally called Family Placement) to provide short breaks for children and adults with learning disabilities. When local authority services for adults and children separated in 2008, the adult scheme was re-launched in-line with national changes and became Shared Lives.

Since that time the scheme has grown steadily and now has 170 carers offering support to around 550 service users. The scheme is successful in helping people with support needs to continue to live full and independent lives without having to go into other forms of residential care.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive board member for adult social care said:
“Shared Lives carers are everyday people that do something extraordinary for others. They open up their homes and families to people with support needs, and share their time and skills to build up valuable relationships with those people.

“Leeds Shared Lives was the first local authority scheme in the whole country, and has developed over the last 33 years to meet the changing needs of communities in Leeds. We have so many wonderful carers doing fantastic work throughout the city, and this really does make a huge difference to the lives of people needing support and their families.

“I would like to thank each and every one of them for all that they do – they are a credit to the Shared Lives service and the city of Leeds.”

Dorothy Ryder has worked for Leeds Shared Lives for seven years, and has recently been recognised with an adult social care staff achievement award for her contribution to the service. She said:
“Being a Leeds Shared Lives carer is very varied, and me and my husband enjoy many different aspects of it. Its really rewarding to have a part in helping adults with learning disabilities to reach their full potentials and gain independence, but there are other benefits too.

“We have offered day support to two service users who were at different stages of Alzheimer’s, and meeting their needs, as different as they are, is just as rewarding.

“The support we get from the service has always been exceptional. We have never felt out of our depth and assistance with any issue, no matter how small, has always been readily available.”

Sheila Booth has been a Shared Lives carer for more than twenty years and she loves what she does. Sheila and husband David are both retired and enjoy spending time with their grandchildren who visit often.

Betty Hoggart has been visiting Sheila’s home one day a week for almost two years. She describes Sheila as a ‘great friend’ and remembers how she found out about Shared Lives and day support. She said:
“I was so busy looking after my husband, and realised that I badly needed some ‘me time.”

“My social worker put me in touch with Shared Lives. I wasn’t sure at first what to expect and did feel a bit apprehensive. I realised though that I would never know unless I gave it a try – I’ve never looked back!

“I can choose exactly what I want to do - for instance, visiting the park, going shopping, maybe just staying in and having a chat and a coffee. Lately Sheila has accompanied me to various hospital appointments, which is a real help and support’.”

Carers can be single people, couples or families and have a variety of different backgrounds and experiences. If you have the time in your life to become a Shared Lives carer, it’s worth finding out more.

Leeds Shared Lives is recruiting carers who can offer support within their own home. No previous experience is necessary as training and expenses are provided. Please contact Leeds Shared Lives for more information by phoning 0113 224 3503, minicom 0113 247 8934 or email .

Additional info
Shared Lives Week is a national celebration with activities happening all over the country.

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

Education on the up for Leeds students

Educational attainment in Leeds is improving at all stages despite the city facing challenging times.

Figures being considered by the Leeds Education Challenge Board later this week show that the attainment levels of the city’s children have increased at each stage from early years to GCSE.

This year in Leeds, around 5560 five year olds reached a good level of development at the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage, an increase of 5 per cent from last year and a 13 per cent increase over the last three years. Some minority ethnic groups have improved by over 20 per cent in the past year. This means that children have the skills, knowledge and attitudes to make a good start to their learning when they enter primary school.

Leeds pupils also achieved better GCSE results than ever before despite the unfair grading of English GCSEs which resulted in many Leeds pupils being downgraded from a ‘C’ to a ‘D’. Even with this issue ongoing results published today show a further improvement in the proportion of Leeds young people achieving five of more A* to C grades including English and Maths GCSE, with 54% reaching this level. It is also anticipated that the number of young people achieving five A* to C grades not including the core subjects will increase to over 83%. Over four out of five Leeds young people now reach this level, four years ago it was just over three out of five.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member responsible for children’s services said:
“We are able to demonstrate some real successes across the board, with the best set of figures at every level.

“I am delighted with these results and feel they are a tribute to the hard work of the city’s schools, pupils and their families.

“We know that we can cont to improve and are working with our schools through the Leeds Education Challenge to build our success.

Primary schools have also seen an improvement in achievement over the past year with 77 per cent of children at the end of primary school achieving the national standard of level four in both English and maths, this compared to 73 per cent in 2011. Pupils in Leeds continue to make better progress in core subjects than that seen nationally. In English, 92 per cent of Leeds pupils made expected progress in 2012, above the national figure of 89 per cent. In maths, 89 per cent of Leeds pupils made the expected two levels of progress between ages above that seen nationally which was 87 per cent.

Leeds is currently seeing a big change in the social climate of the city, with many people choosing to make Leeds their home. This means more children are starting school who have English as a second language, as well as a higher proportion of children who are entitled to free school meals. In January 2012 8900 children were in reception classes across Leeds which is the largest cohort ever and 23 per cent of those are entitled to free school meals, compared to 18 per cent of the current year 11 (15 to 16 year old) of which the cohort is over 800 less at 8072.

The Leeds Education Challenge is an ambitious city-wide campaign to accelerate improvements in learning outcomes for all children and young people in Leeds. It is about schools working together and learning from each other, through school to school collaboration and support.

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

Preferred bidders announced for two new schools for Leeds

Senior councillors in Leeds have agreed their preferred bidders to run two new primary schools for the city, which were announced earlier this year.

At a meeting of Leeds City Council’s executive board yesterday (17 October), members approved the Co-operative Trust as the preferred bidder for a new school at Florence Street in Harehills and The Learning Trust for South Leeds as the preferred bidder for a new school on land at the former South Leeds Sports Centre.

The proposals are part of a city-wide programme which is necessary to meet the increased demand for primary-age places caused by a rising birth rate and an increase in the number of families moving into certain areas of the city. Through this programme the council has already delivered 705 new reception places since 2009.

The new schools would be a 420 place primary school with a 26 place nursery on land at Florence Street in Harehills to open in September 2013 and a 420 place primary school and 26 place nursery on land at the former South Leeds sports centre site to open in 2014.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member responsible for children’s services said:
“These new schools will address the pressures on the city to provide more primary school places. I am pleased we are able to move on to the next stage of the process to create these much needed schools.”

Earlier this year the executive board agreed to start the competition process and invited bids from organisations which wanted to run the new schools. This invitation to bid resulted in six bids for Harehills from: Academies Enterprise Trust; The Co-Operative Trust; Lilac Sky Schools; LEAF Academy Trust; Leeds Muslim College and; Rainbow Schools. The south Leeds invitation to bid, resulted in four bids: Academies Enterprise Trust; Lilac Sky Schools; Rainbow Schools; and the Learning Trust South Leeds. Lilac Sky Schools subsequently withdrew from both competitions.

In July and August members of the public were invited to express their views on the bidders’ proposals. Six written responses were received for Harehills and 114 for south Leeds.

Each bidder was asked to demonstrate core requirements as well as a number of local considerations, which were also included which emerged from the initial consultations. The bidders were required to demonstrate:
·        How the buildings and play area would be made available for community use;
·        How they would include single sex changing facilities for community use;
·        How the school would offer local employment opportunities; and
·        How the school would serve the local community through its admissions policy.
South Leeds
·        How the site could also provide sports usage;
·        How the school would facilitate ongoing community access to the sports pitches; and
·        How it would serve the local community through its admissions policy.

All bidders for the Harehills school noted the desire of the local community to be involved with school through employment, use of extended services, use of facilities and external play areas. All suggested they were willing to consult on how this could be delivered.

All bidders for the south Leeds school indicated their willingness to work with the council on delivering sports provision on the site, although none offered financial contributions towards such provision.

The School Organisation Advisory Board was set up by the council to consider the proposals in detail and make recommendations to the executive board. The SOAB recommended the Co-operative as the preferred bidder for Harehills and The Learning Trust South Leeds as the preferred bidder for south Leeds.

In deciding upon the recommendations the SOAB looked at the bidders’ local experience and knowledge, evidence of partnership working in the localities, their accountability, ethos and governance, their experience in providing primary education as well as their management, partnerships and infrastructure capacity to support the new schools.

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