Wednesday, 13 March 2013

New welfare support scheme given the go ahead

A new support scheme to help vulnerable people facing crisis has been approved by Leeds City Council today.

Following a Government decision to abolish Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans members of the council’s executive board, today agreed to establish a new welfare support scheme locally, which will help families and vulnerable people faced with unforeseen difficulties or emergency situations.

Designed to tackle issues of fuel poverty, food poverty and financial exclusions, the new scheme will provide access to a range of support. It is intended that the scheme will be simple to access and therefore be able to swiftly deliver effective support to those who need it most.

The council will receive some funding from the government to provide this service for the first two years, but further funding cannot be guaranteed. For that reason the scheme has been developed to be as sustainable as possible and the Council is seeking to work closely with partner organisations, particularly within the third sector.

The new scheme aims to:
• Allow people to return or remain in their community without the need for extra care;
• Support the most vulnerable in urgent situations through signposting to appropriate support services, advice or through provision and access to goods, and;
• Engage individuals with appropriate support services where needed to prevent repeat applications and develop resilience.

The new welfare support scheme will differ from the government’s current schemes as it will focus on providing goods and services rather than cash payments. In order to make the scheme sustainable, the council will work with furniture reuse charities, supermarkets and voluntary organisations to provide goods and services at a reduced cost.

Councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council said:
“Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants provide vital emergency support for people who find themselves in very serious distress. The Government’s decision to abolish that support will leave a big gap and threatens to have a devastating impact on some of our most vulnerable residents. That is why we have chosen to use initial funding to set up a Welfare Support Scheme locally, which will help vulnerable people who are in the most urgent need.

“Protecting those vulnerable residents, especially in very difficult economic times, remains a key priority for the council. However, I remain deeply concerned about the significant ongoing uncertainty surrounding the future of the funding that has only been confirmed for two years.”

To contact the Welfare Support team please call 0113 3760330

Olympic champion Nicola Adams MBE star guest as new art display opens in Leeds

Caption: Olympic champion Nicola Adams MBE with her gold medal next to the golden postboxes in her honour in Leeds city centre

Leeds’ own Olympic boxing champion Nicola Adams MBE will be the guest of honour at the launch of a new exhibition showcasing local talent this week.

The 30-year-old, who made history at London 2012 by becoming the first-ever winner of an Olympic gold medal in women’s boxing, will be star guest at a display of art produced by local girls which goes on show at the St John’s Centre at 4:30pm tomorrow (14 March).

The display is the culmination of a year-long arts and photography project carried out by a group of local Leeds girls aged 11-15 through the Harehills-based charity Getaway Girls to use the Olympic themes to look at the roles of sportswomen from the past and present to the future as well as fashion within the sports industry.

Nicola, who was recently presented with her MBE for services to boxing at Buckingham Palace, is the president of national Sport England-funded initiative US Girls which aims to encourage young women in disadvantaged areas to be more active, and was a partner in the project.

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All media are invited to the launch of the exhibition at the St John’s Centre off The Headrow in Leeds at 4:30pm on Thursday 14 March. Olympic champion Nicola Adams MBE will be available for media interviews along with some of the girls involved in the project.

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The project was also supported by funding from Leeds City Council’s Leeds Inspired programme and its museums and galleries service.

A strong emphasis of the project was on art and photography, with the girls taking part attending various sporting events to take photos and also interview the women and girls competing.

They also organised a photoshoot with City of Leeds diver Jenny Cowen where they were responsible for organising the shoot, lighting and make-up. The girls then created their own graffiti art on the themes they had discussed and also worked with a local poet to create poetry around sport.

Throughout the year the girls also played a variety of sports in their local park with the underlying aim of the project being to allow them to understand that anyone can take part in sport, regardless of ability, and how women in sport can overcome any barriers they may face.

The exhibition, which will be on display at the St John’s Centre for two weeks before moving to Leeds City Museum, is the culmination of the group’s work and their views on sport and women’s role in sport. Nicola Adams will meet the group and discuss the project with them before officially opening the exhibition.

Women’s Olympic Flyweight Boxing Champion Nicola Adams MBE said:

“As Us Girls President I’ve meet hundreds of young women and girls throughout the UK, talking to them about sport, my career and ways to get active and now finally I’m meeting a project in my hometown. Over the past year the Getaway Girls have worked hard on their project and I’m looking forward to seeing it and meeting them.”

Leeds City Council women and girls sport development officer Laura Smales said:

“We are thrilled that Nicola Adams is able to meet the girls and see the work they have produced for this new exhibition.

“Nicola emerged as one of the real stars of London 2012, with her story of talent, hard work and incredible dedication to being the best she can be proving an inspiration to people of all ages not only in the UK but worldwide.

“Young girls in Leeds could have no finer role model to look up than Nicola, someone who came from humble beginnings in the same city and has reached the very top.”

Notes to editors:

Getaway Girls aims to enable vulnerable young women aged 11-25 from Leeds to build confidence, develop new skills and take positive risks in an environment which offers co-operation and support. For more information visit

Us Girls aims to get 30,000 young women living in disadvantaged areas more active, by providing them with opportunities to play sport within their local communities. Us Girls is being delivered by the Active Women Consortium, a body led by StreetGames.

Us Girls is receiving £2.3 million of National Lottery investment from Sport England as part of its ‘Active Women’ campaign to tackle the gender gap in sport. For more information go to


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde,
Leeds City Council press office,
Tel 0113 247 5472

Awards celebrate top apprentices in the city

Businesses and apprentices across Leeds were celebrated at the Leeds Apprenticeship Awards 2013 at Civic Hall last night.

Over 13 winners were presented with awards for their excellent work and contribution to the city’s economy.

Gordons LLP and BAM Construction shared the award for ‘apprenticeship ambassador’ for their work in spreading the apprenticeship message and for showcasing how advantageous employing an apprentice can be.

The ‘outstanding contribution’ award went to NG Bailey for their work in increasing apprentices throughout their sub-contractors and the reviewed apprenticeship programme they now offer within the company.

Morley MOT & Service Centre received ‘small employer of the year’ for demonstrating a clear understanding of how to allow young people to get the most from their apprenticeships, prioritising learning and development. The medium employer of the year was given to the Arena Group, document management specialists, who have realised the potential for apprentices to have a bigger impact to their business and are now in the process of trying to integrate more into the business

The bigword, were awarded ‘large employer of the year’ for their apprenticeship programme to develop young, local people to do jobs in the city whilst also implementing a career progression scheme for anyone joining their organisation at an apprentice level.

Individually, Dianne Flemming working with East North East Homes Leeds, Daniel Marsay working for Morrison FS and Lee Spark working with BAM construction won the award for ‘intermediate apprentice of the year’. All three were commended for their ability to hit the ground running and exceeding expectations as apprentices.

Sarah Garnett, who is working with O2, and Paul Stevens who is working with Keepmoat were awarded ‘advanced apprentice of the year’ for having a positive impact on other apprentices and really growing within their roles, taken full advantage of the opportunities they are given.

Rachel Appleby, also working with O2, was awarded ‘higher apprentice of the year’ for her leadership in mentoring other apprentices at the company and going far and above of what is expected from the role she is in.

The ‘against all odds’ award was given to Karen Atkinson, who is working in children’s services at Leeds City Council. Karen has shown sensitivity in her role dealing with children and an exceptional ability to strive and help others in life.

Councillor Adam Ogilvie, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for leisure and skills said:

“The apprenticeship awards are an excellent way for the city to celebrate our top apprentices and businesses that are playing such a key role to drive skills in the city.

“The calibre of entries for this year’s awards has been very high, and it is great to see so many people involved. I would like to congratulate all the winners, but also everyone who was nominated, for this fantastic achievement.

“As a city we are completely committed to apprentices, with over 14000 apprenticeships having been created in Leeds over the last two years.

“Apprenticeships are a fantastic way of providing people with a new set of skills and knowledge. They offer an employer a good opportunity to employ and develop local talent.”

Notes to editors:

For pictures or more information on the winners please contact the press office.

Partners involved in the event included Leeds City Council, Leeds College of Building and the National Apprenticeship Service.

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