Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Young offenders help transform wasteland into green haven - media opportunity

Young people who are involved with Leeds youth offending service and West Yorkshire probation service have worked together to create an environmental haven for pupils at a Leeds school.

The young people were joined by staff and volunteers to transform a disused area at Burley Park pupil referral unit (PRU) into a safe and peaceful garden for both staff and pupils to enjoy. The new outdoor space includes a reflective area, an outdoor learning environment, basketball and football areas, raised beds for growing fruits and veg, a wildflower border and sustainable planting.

Media opportunity:
When: Thursday 12 June at 11am
Where: Key Stage 3 PRU, Burley Park Centre, Cardigan Lane, Burley, LS4 2LE
What: Service users, staff, pupils and volunteers will be officially opening the new garden they have helped to create. Photographs and interviews will be available.

The project involved service users and staff from all organisations involved, turning a disused area into a green haven, to help promote learning around environmental issues, to create a tranquil reflective space for pupils to use for recreation and learning. Young people who attend Burley Park have also been taking part in workshops, run by Leeds City Council’s green doctors, to learn about sustainable planting and growing your own vegetables.

The garden took over five months to create and involved pupil consultation in the design process, workshops around environmental issues, art and media workshops, with pupils engaging with local media organisations to create a film and radio podcast about the project.

The initiative was organised by Leeds City Council’s youth offending service and West Yorkshire probation service and brought together a whole host of organisations including:
Leeds City Council’s parks and countryside team, environmental services and
community safety.
HMP Wetherby YOI
Leeds College of Building
East Leeds FM Radio.
Equilateral Media.
Seagulls paints
Elizabeth Daley – garden designer – Volunteer.

Councillor Jane Dowson, deputy executive member responsible for learning, who will be attending tomorrow’s opening event, said:
“Helping to create this garden has been a fantastic opportunity for young people who’ve been in trouble, to demonstrate to the community that they are willing to make amends and do something practical which will make a great difference for the pupils and staff at Burley Park.

“These youngsters are often under a lot of pressure to return to criminal behaviour, so by getting involved in positive work like this, through the youth offending service, they are provided with an opportunity to do something meaningful and also develop useful skills.”

The project received a special commendation at the Ranstaad Awards, which aims to improve educational attainment for pupils through innovative projects, and was the only school from the north of England to be shortlisted. The judges commented it was a superb example of collaborative working.

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

Planning Leeds healthy

Photo: David Rudlin and Cllr Lisa Mulherin

Over 70 city leaders, health, housing and community experts met today to examine what it would take for Leeds to be a ‘mentally healthy’ city.

At a conference organised by the Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board, international urban design expert David Rudlin highlighted challenges and opportunities for cities looking to make the most of their environments to improve the mental health of citizens.

Councillor Lisa Mulherin, chair of the Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board, said:

“Our event was aimed at generating answers and ideas to feed into planning and development work which is shaping Leeds in the decades ahead. Our city has many challenges to tackle if we are to improve the health of the city, and while people may not instantly think of the environment being one of these, we know it has a massive impact.”

Research discussed at the event demonstrated links between the surroundings in which we live and mental health. Examples of factors which make a difference were the ‘greyness’ of buildings, access to green space and connectivity to places of leisure, work and exercise. An Exeter University study suggested the mental health benefits of moving to a greener area last longer than the benefits of getting married or finding a new job.

Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for Neighbourhoods, Planning and Personnel, said:

“We are delivering a wide range of initiatives to improve housing and community facilities throughout the city. What David Rudlin’s research shows is the importance of taking a broad perspective when developments are being planned and delivered. It is more than just bricks and mortar – it is about hearts and minds too.”

David Rudlin from Urbanism Environment and Design, said:

"There is an increasing understanding that the design of the urban environment can have a significant impact on mental health. What is less well understood is what we should do about it, with different studies making sometimes contradictory suggestions. Today has been about trying to find a way forward in Leeds, and draw some conclusions about how health, happiness and wellbeing can be considered alongside all of the wider issues facing urban areas."

Notes to editors:

David Rudlin is an established urban designer who’s practice URBED (Urbanism Environment and Design) is the winner of the 2012 Urban Design Group Practice of the year award. A planner by training, David started his career with Manchester City Council with responsibility for the early stages of the redevelopment of Hulme. He was a founder member of the Homes for Change housing cooperative, responsible for commissioning one of the flagship buildings of the Hulme Redevelopment. He has worked extensively across the UK including major regeneration strategies and private sector masterplans. He is Chair of the Sheffield Design Panel and of Beam in Wakefield and a member of the Academy of Urbanism. He has been a member of the CABE Design Review Panel, a judge on Europan 08 and the Congress of New Urbanism Awards in the US.

For media enquiries, please contact;
Phil Morcom, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3602

Kirkgate Market achieves top TripAdvisor award

Kirkgate Market is celebrating having been awarded TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence 2014.

The world's largest travel site bestows the award on establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveller reviews.

Kirkgate Market now joins an elite group of world-wide venues who excel according to those who matter the most – visitors and customers.

The market is the largest covered market in Europe and currently welcomes around 100,000 shoppers a week.

Leeds City Council approved a £12.3 million investment to refurbish the market earlier this year to secure its long term future as a gem in Leeds’ retail crown.

Councillor Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive member for transport and economy, said:

“Only those businesses that continually impress visitors receive this prestigious award so we’re delighted that Kirkgate Market is being recognised on a global platform.

“Home to some amazing characters, bursting with history and offering amazing value, we already know that Kirkgate Market has so much to offer traders, shoppers and visitors.

“With a £12.3 million refurbishment in the pipeline, we can secure what is unique about the market while making it a place even more people will want to work in, shop and visit.”

For media enquiries please contact:
Amanda Burns, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1577


Places filling up fast for The National Citizen Service in Leeds this summer

Young people in Leeds who are looking for a life-changing experience this summer are being urged to sign up for the National Citizen Service (NCS) programme.

The NCS programme in Leeds is filling up fast and is a once-in-a-lifetime experience offered to 16 and 17 year olds that builds skills and confidence, helps them get ahead in work and life and gives them a positive role in their local community. It is also a fun and useful way to spend the summer holidays.

Now in its fourth year, with over 30,000 young people that have already participated, the ambition is to ensure as many young people as possible, regardless of background, ability or ambitions, get the chance to experience and reap the rewards of NCS. And 9 out of 10 young people who have already taken part say they would recommend it to a friend.

Young people undertake NCS in teams of 15. The programme in Leeds includes an action-packed away residential at Hill Climb Activity Centre in Lancashire, a skills-building residential back in Leeds, time finding out about the local community, designing and delivering a local community project and then enjoying a huge graduation party, with a certificate signed by the Prime Minister.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive board member responsible for children’s services said:
“There are still a few places left on the NCS summer programme so I urge any young people who are looking for a challenge over the summer that is both fulfilling and fun and that has the potential to be life-changing to register as soon as possible.

“By taking part in this scheme the young people will take on some big challenges, but can definitely expect to come away with new skills and experiences, which will undoubtedly help them in their future careers.”

The summer programme lasts for a maximum of five weeks (including the two five-day residentials) plus time on the community project and is backed by the Government who pay the majority of the cost. Participation fees for young people range from £35 to £50, with bursaries also available.

Leeds City Council deliver the successful NCS programme across the city, and teenagers enrolled this summer depart in the first groups from the 23 June and the last on the 11 August.

Young people and parents can find out more at

To speak to someone for more information about the NCS programme in Leeds, and to sign up, call the team on 0800 027 9111, quoting Leeds City Council, or email

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