Friday, 18 October 2013

Leeds Youth Offending Service awarded quality mark for restorative justice

Leeds Youth Offending Service has been recognised for its high quality work in restorative justice at a Royal ceremony.

The Youth Offending Service (a multi-agency service within Leeds City Council) is one of the first organisations in the UK to receive a new quality mark from the Restorative Justice Council.

Representatives from Leeds Youth Offending Service received their award from HRH The Princess Royal at the Restorative Justice Council’s Annual General Meeting.

Restorative processes bring those harmed by crime or conflict into communication with those responsible for the harm, enabling everyone affected by a particular incident to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward. Restorative processes are being increasingly used in a wide range of settings including criminal justice, schools, care homes, local authorities, prisons and communities.

The Restorative Service Quality Mark (RSQM) requires organisations to show that they are consistently meeting six Restorative Service Standards. Following a rigorous assessment process, Leeds YOS has demonstrated that it meets the standards, and will now hold the prestigious quality mark.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member responsible for children’s services said:
“Our Youth Offending Service has a great track record for providing excellent restorative practice opportunities for young people involved with the service, so it is fantastic that this great work has been recognised with this quality mark.

“In Leeds we are committed to making sure young offenders take responsibility for what they have done, and are encouraged to make amends to the society they have offended against.

“Restorative practice helps them understand the real impact of their actions, helps them take responsibility and make amends.”

Jemma Jewkes, the RJC’s head of standards and professional services, said:
“Earlier this year, the Restorative Justice Council put out a call for services to take part in a test phase of the Restorative Service Quality Mark. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and Leeds Youth Offending Service was one of the organisations selected to participate.

“All the organisations taking part understand the importance of quality – delivering to national standards ensures that people can feel safe and confident about the service they are receiving. They have all worked incredibly hard, and we’re very proud of the successful applicants.

“It’s been a real privilege to visit all of the test sites and see first-hand some of the amazing work that’s being done.”

Following the successful completion of the test phase, the Restorative Service Quality Mark is expected to be launched nationally later in 2013.

Note to editors
• The Restorative Justice Council (RJC) provides a national voice, and quality assurance for restorative practice through the criminal justice system, schools and care.

The Restorative Service Quality Mark is backed by the Ministry of Justice. For further information on the Quality Mark please contact the RJC on 0207 831 5700 or email Jemma Jewkes at

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

Pupils helped to make the right decision on road safety

Pupils across Leeds and West Yorkshire will be learning how to make the right decisions when it comes to road safety thanks to a drama production touring schools across the region, which began this week.

The educational performance on road safety called ‘The Decision’ by Tiny Giants Theatre Company has been commissioned by Leeds City Council’s Road Safety Team and their counterparts across West Yorkshire.

West Yorkshire statistics show that 11 – 15 year old pedestrians are particularly vulnerable when it comes to road accidents – especially before and after school.

66.5% of road accidents in West Yorkshire are the fault of the pedestrian and their failure to look properly. Being distracted is also a major cause of accidents. Almost half of these casualties (46.7%) were 11 – 12 year olds.

These drama performances complement other work being carried out by Leeds City Council’s road safety team in schools across the district make sure pupils are aware of the important safety messages.

The performance: ‘The Decision’ will cover a range of issues including safety and awareness, and focusing on young people and their behaviour on and around roads. The play is set in a courtroom and flashes back to moments in the young people’s lives, eventually leading up to the death of a young boy called Jamie. Students are asked to vote as a jury to whether the driver is guilty or not guilty.

Councillor Richard Lewis, executive board member responsible for economy and development said:
"Road accidents cause tragedy, heartache, pain, loss and untold suffering. Raising awareness and educating young people through a thought provoking drama performance will hopefully prompt young people to think about their own journeys as pedestrians; as many of these incidents can be prevented."

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member for children’s services said:
“It is everyone’s responsibility to do all we can to reduce the number of children and young people becoming casualties of avoidable road accidents.

“These performances will really help these young people become more aware of their own safety and that of their friends.”

The five week West Yorkshire tour began in Leeds this week, with performances at the following schools:

The Farnley Academy and the Co-operative Academy of Leeds
The Rodillian Academy and Cockburn School
Swallow Hill Community College and City of Leeds School
Mount St Mary’s Catholic High School
The South Leeds Academy and Leeds West Academy
Ralph Thoresby School

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

Older Person’s Event Week a hit in east Leeds

A number of special events have been held in outer east Leeds as part of the local area committee’s annual ‘Older Person’s Event Week’.

Now in its 13th year, five venues in Garforth, Great Preston, Kippax, Swarcliffe and Halton hosted a wide range of fun activities and entertainment for the elderly, which included bingo, raffles, and music provided by pupils from local schools. At the end of each day, which also included a buffet lunch, a special performance of the show ‘That’s Life’ was also provided by the ‘Northeast Producers’.

A number of information stalls providing details on upcoming fun activities and advice on key services were also available at each of the free events, which were funded by the Outer East Area Committee.

Held to coincide with the International Day of Older People, and supported by neighbourhood networks and in Great Preston the local luncheon club, also in attendance were local councillors and the Lord Mayor of Leeds Councillor Thomas Murray who paid a special visit to meet attendees at the Garforth event.

Councillor Andrea McKenna, chair of the outer east area committee said:

"We were delighted to once again through the area committee fund a number of special events as part of our annual Older Person’s Event Week.

"A wide-range of fun activities were on offer at each of the five venues, and it was lovely to see pupils from local schools play their part by providing the fantastic musical entertainment.

"Providing meaningful support to our elderly remains a key priority of our area committee. We will be continuing to do everything we can to fund events such as these and assist those groups and organisations in our communities that do such a great job looking after our elderly."

Notes to editors:

£3,900 of funding for the events was provided by the outer east area committee.

The five venues to host the events were;

Mon – Great & Little Preston Village Hall, Gt Preston, Preston Lane, LS26 8AS
Tues – St Gregory’s Youth & Adult Centre, Stanks Gardens, Swarcliffe, LS14 5LS
Weds – Kippax Central Working Men’s Club, Gibson Lane, Kippax, LS25 7BA
Thurs – Christ Church, Chapel Street, Halton, LS15 7RW
Fri – Garforth NET at Dover Street, Garforth, LS25 2LP

The International Day of Older People is held on 1 October. The week of events were held from Monday 30 September - 4 October.

For media enquiries, please contact;
Colin Dickinson, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 39 51578

‘Snapshot of Yorkshire’ competition launched

Anyone with a passion for Yorkshire is being encouraged to enter a competition that could see their work displayed alongside the prints of one of Leeds’ most fascinating artists at a city museum.

As part of the ‘A Snapshot of Yorkshire’ competition, photographers of all ages and abilities have the chance to submit their pictures which they feel best reflect the region as it is today in in five different categories. These include; Working Life in Yorkshire; Yorkshire holidays; Yorkshire Sport; People at Home in Yorkshire; Yorkshire Celebrations.

If selected, winners will see their pictures sit alongside 40 prints by local artist George Walker in Abbey House Museum, that mark the 200 year anniversary of his work 'The costume of Yorkshire 1814'. This display will form part of a wider exhibition at the museum celebrating Yorkshire.

Using the successful prints from the competition to compare and contrast Yorkshire as it is today against the pictures by George Walker, collections will also be drawn from Leeds museums and galleries, other Yorkshire museums and members of the public for the exhibition.

Open for seven weeks, with a closing date of Friday 6 December 2013, contestants are asked to email their entries to along with a brief description of where and when in Yorkshire their photograph was taken, details about who is in their picture (where applicable) and which category or categories they are entering.

As part of the competition, winners will also have the chance to attend a special preview of the exhibition and claim a range of Yorkshire-themed prizes.

To have your say on the beauty of the county and to help shape the exhibition, there is still the opportunity to contribute to a Yorkshire survey. For more details please see:

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for leisure and skills said:

"This is the perfect opportunity for anyone with a real passion for Yorkshire to showcase their pictures of our great county alongside those of fascinating Leeds artist George Walker in a new exhibition opening at Abbey House Museum next January.

"With five categories to choose from, I am really looking forward to seeing how Yorkshire life is captured today as part of the ‘A Snapshot of Yorkshire competition’ and to see how they compare and contrast with the work of George Walker 200 years ago.

"With the deadline to enter any pictures set for 6 December, please don’t miss out on your chance to display just how great Yorkshire is.”

Notes for editors:

The competition is divided into five categories:

• Working Life in Yorkshire – images that show people working in the county.

• Yorkshire Holidays – images of people enjoying their holidays in Yorkshire.

• Yorkshire Sport – images of people enjoying or participating in sports in Yorkshire.

• People at Home in Yorkshire – shots of people at leisure or work in their homes or gardens in Yorkshire.

• Yorkshire Celebrations – images showing people at public events and festivals in Yorkshire.

The 'A Snapshot of Yorkshire' exhibition will open at Abbey House Museum on 25 January 2014.

Abbey House Museum is a lively, interactive museum which was short-listed for the Guardian ‘Kids in Museum Family Friendly Award’ in 2011. Wander the beautifully created authentic Victorian streets for a glimpse of life in 19th century Leeds.

For more information on Abbey House museum, please see:

For media enquiries, please contact;

Colin Dickinson, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 39 51578


‘Community councils’ concept investigated

A proposal to boost the involvement of residents in local decision making through the possible introduction of 'community councils', is being investigated by Leeds City Council.

This follows a move to identify new ways in which residents across the city can become more engaged in the democratic process and decisions that are taken by the council and specifically those of the current area committees.

Currently, 10 area committees are responsible for a range of work and important services that are undertaken in neighbourhoods across the city. As part of their role, the committees set out detailed improvement plans for the areas they represent, and decide through a monitored service level agreement, where both street cleansing and environmental action should be targeted.

The management and budgets of community centres are also undertaken by the area committees, while funding is also provided to agencies, groups and organisations in order to support a range of important projects being delivered in communities.

If given the go-ahead, the aim of the 'community councils', would be raise greater awareness of funding which is available to support local projects and to encourage greater input from residents in order to better influence the priorities and objectives that are set out by local councillors for the areas where they live.

As part of this research, a possible framework on 'community councils', the functions it might perform and how residents can become more involved , are set to be examined. Included in this process, will be the opportunity for both councillors and local communities to offer their thoughts on how best this might be achieved.

Proposals for 'community councils' are set to be outlined in early 2014, and if given the go-ahead, are expected to commence at the start of the 2014/15 municipal year. This idea forms part of an Area Committee Annual Report which was approved at a full meeting of council in September.

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

"As part of our work, we will be asking residents how they think communities can have a bigger influence in the priorities and key decisions that are prioritised and taken by our area committees in the areas where they live.

"At the moment, awareness of the good work area committees are involved in, and the responsibilities they have in the delivery of key council services and the distribution of grants to valuable local projects is not at the level it should be in our communities and this has to change.

"With this in mind, we have taken the decision to investigate further the idea of 'community councils', and while this concept is currently still at its very early stages, we are hoping to have some firm proposals set out by early next year for discussion with communities across the city."

For media enquiries, please contact;
Colin Dickinson, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 39 51578

Conference launches major assault on high-cost lenders

A national conference being held in Leeds will see the launch of a major strategy to combat the impact of high cost lenders.

There is growing concern about the impact that high cost credit is having on many communities and households across the country. The conference will see the launch of an important awareness raising strategy which will attempt to warn people about the pitfalls of this form of credit, to advise about alternative banking services and promote the various advice services which are available to help people who find themselves suffering from unsustainable debt.

The conference has been very well supported from organisations all over the country. Over 220 delegates will attend the conference on 25 October in the Civic Hall in Leeds – but such has been the interest in the conference that many people have not managed to secure a place.

Representatives are attending from 35 cities around the country from as far afield as Fife in Scotland and Kent in the south. There will also be delegates from the UK Government and the Scottish Government

Councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council, who will chair the conference said:
“Poverty is the biggest challenge our city is facing and one which we are tackling head on. The scourge of pay day lenders is forcing many of the most vulnerable people in our city into poverty by allowing them to taken on loans they can ill afford, with phenomenally high interest rates.

“We have organised this conference to call on as many people as possible to join us in tackling this issue and ensure that our message is spread far and wide. The conference is part of our city-wide strategy to get people out of poverty and we will also be formally launching our campaign against payday lenders at the conference.

“The 220 places filled up very quickly and attendees will not only leave with useful and practical information to take back to their workplaces, but we are also confident they will become ambassadors for our campaign.”

Notes to editors
1. A limited number of places have been reserved for representatives from media organisations which will be allocated on a first-come first-served basis. Please contact the press office to organise attendance.

2. Further, more detailed information will be made available to the media on Thursday 24th October about details of the marketing campaign. This will be embargoed until the morning of the conference.

3. Confirmed speakers include:
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive, Citizens Advice
Mark Fisher CBE, Head of Social Justice, DWP
Bishop John Packer – Bishop of Ripon and Leeds
Gary Hetherington, Chief Executive Leeds Rugby

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