Thursday, 30 May 2013

Pupils get plaudits for perfect prose

Picture caption: Winners of the Arooj creative writing competition with the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Leeds. (Children l-r top row: Imaan Bhatti, Joti Digpal, Ayesha Chaudry, Murtaza Ali, Liba Tanveer.  l-r bottom row: Jonathan Chen, Yahya Muhidin, Ibrahin Islam, Amber Begum.)

Pupils who have been taking part in a creative writing competition were awarded for their poetic and literary efforts at a civic ceremony earlier this week.

Hundreds of children from primary schools across the city submitted entries into the Arooj creative writing competition, with 37 pupils being short listed as potential winners. The winner in each category will be announced next Tuesday 4 June, at a special ceremony at Leeds Civic Hall. This year’s theme was “the Marketplace”.

The competition, which is in its third year, is organised by Leeds City Council’s Equalities and Entitlement team. It 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 in partnership with 13 primary schools with large populations of these pupils to help to close the gap in attainment.

The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Tom Murray and senior managers from children’s services presented the awards to winners and highly commended pupils in each category. The winners received a book and a special notebook to encourage their writing talents, and highly commended entries also received a book.

Entertainment was provided by pupils from Bracken Edge Primary School who will perform a dance they learned as part of a partnership with West Yorkshire Playhouse linked to Benjamin Zephaniah’s play, Refugee Boy. The short listed pupils for the Upper KS2 Poetry category also recited their poems. Khadijah Ibrahim, a renowned Leeds author who has worked with the pupils during the year recited poetry 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. A lot of hard work has gone into creating these poems, stories and calligraphy and they are 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 and encourage 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. Attainment levels for these pupils is below their peers both in Leeds and nationally, however the gap in attainment has narrowed in recent years due to the hard work of the schools involved in the Arooj collaborative.

The Equalities and Entitlement team have developed a creative curriculum project with a focus on the marketplace both here in Leeds at Kirkgate market and also internationally tracing the development of trade through history along the Silk Route, 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 13 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

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

Businesses ‘give and gain’ at Herd Farm Activity Centre

Picture caption: The former Lord Mayor of Leeds, Cllr Ann Castle, with volunteers at Herd Farm for Give and Gain day.

Over 120 volunteers from companies across Leeds rolled up their sleeves and got their hands dirty at Herd Farm Activity Centre last week to ‘give something back’ to their local community.

As part of national ‘Give & Gain Day’, organised by Business in the Community, the volunteers took on the task of helping to maintain the 16 acre site, which is primarily used as an outdoor activity centre for vulnerable or disadvantaged children and young people. This year, Give & Gain Day has a focus on supporting young people.

Herd Farm is a council-run outdoor educational resource centre which offers a range of activities for 11 – 19 year olds and for disabled people up to 25. It works with agencies who work with young people at risk: the Youth Offending Service, Multi-systemic therapy services, wraparound services, and teams working with young people who have disabilities.

The volunteers took on a variety of tasks at the centre including:
• Making over the pond area including making a rockery and associated planting, cutting back shrubbery, clearing the pond, cutting back the elder tree and creating bird houses to hang on the branches.
• Creating a BBQ area.
• Re-staining the activity equipment and assault course
• Weed clearance
• Creating a new activity of shallow underground mini caving network using pipes donated by Yorkshire Water
• Completing a sensory garden for disabled visitors.

Tony Edwards, Herd Farm Activity Centre manager, said:“Whilst our core business is serving the young people of Leeds offering personal development through outdoor and environmental activities support such as this via Business in the Community is welcomed.

“Herd Farm covers 16 acres and managing the site requires a lot of work from a small team. Therefore we are very grateful to all the businesses that release their staff and the staff themselves for their dedication, hard work and willingness to often take on tasks that are often completely different from their usual working day.

“For us Give and Gain Day was an outstanding success and of real benefit to Herd Farm and the young people who visit.”

Councillor Judith Blake, executive board member responsible for children’s services said: “Herd Farm provides a valuable resource for some of the city’s most vulnerable children, giving them a chance to learn important life skills whilst having a great time.

“It is fantastic that so many people were willing to give up their time to help make the activity centre an even better place for the children and young people of Leeds.”

The volunteers also received a visit from the then Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Ann Castle who came to see some of the groups in action.

Give & Gain Day is the only global day of employee volunteering organised by Business in the Community which encourages thousands of people across the world to spend a working day volunteering for good causes in their local community. Since 2008, over 60,000 people in 31 countries around the world have taken part.

Notes for editorsBusiness in the Community stands for responsible business. With a membership of over 850 companies, engagement in 10,700 organisations internationally and an employee reach of 14.7 million, Business in the Community is raising the benchmark for responsible business practice. They offer our members practical support to help them transform their businesses and integrate responsible practices into their operations. They ask members to work in partnership to help transform communities and tackle serious social issues where business can make a real difference. Business in the Community is one of the Prince’s Charities, a group of not-for-profit organisations of which The Prince of Wales is President.

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

Pub and bar owners in Leeds sign up to responsible drinking

Responsible pub and bar owners across Leeds have undertaken new training to better understand how to be responsible when selling alcohol in a bid to cut down on antisocial behaviour.

Leeds Pubwatch organised for 47 of its members to undertake free courses through BIIAB to learn more about protecting communities from alcohol related antisocial behaviour and also preventing underage drinking.

The initiative, held at The Adelphi, Leeds and funded by the SAB miller Scholarship saw all participants who took part in the training receive a BIIAB Award in Responsible Alcohol Retailing. Over half of the total people taking part achieved 100% marks in the examination, with five people going on to the pass the Personal Licence Holder’s examination. This teaches them everything they need to know to apply for a Personal Licence, which allows them to sell alcohol and/or authorise others to do so.

Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for neighbourhoods, planning and support services said:

“Our licensed premises within Leeds are clearly demonstrating that they want to take a sensible approach to selling alcohol.

“It is good to see so many licence holders signing up to take part in this training and work with local communities to reduce alcohol related crime.

“We want to ensure that the city is a safe place for people to enjoy responsibly, and working with licence holders and other partners across the city is one way of making this happen.”

Sergeant Rob Fullilove, West Yorkshire Police's licensing officer, said:

"We support the additional training these licence holders have undertaken.

"Ensuring that staff working in our bars, pubs and clubs sell alcohol in a responsible manner forms part of our ongoing work to make Leeds a vibrant and safe place for people to visit and enjoy themselves."

Pauline Chapman, Seacroft Working Men’s Club said:

“By attending the pubwatch meetings it has opened my eyes to how much is involved in running a licensed premises regarding legislation. The training that pubwatch have provided, has made me more confident, knowledgeable and has gave me the ability to deal with issues that arise during the day”.

Notes to editors:

Leeds Pubwatch is a crime reduction initiative with the aim to reduce alcohol related crime and anti-social behaviour in licensed premises.

There are 16 schemes which are voluntary run by licensees and are supported by Safer Leeds Partnership which includes Leeds City Council, West Yorkshire Police and other agencies.

For more information visit


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