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Leeds Council of Mosques Condemns Manchester Attacks


To the families of the victims and the injured in Manchester

The Leeds Council of Mosques (LCM) condemns, in the strongest terms, the cowardly act perpetrated on the night of 22nd May 2017 at the Manchester Arena. We believe those who have undertaken this atrocity and, if proven, the networks working to indoctrinate individuals to kill innocent citizens, should face the full force of the Law and be punished in accordance with British anti-terrorism laws.

As representatives of Leeds Mosques, we send our deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of those who have perished through this heinous act and we hope those who were injured, make a full and rapid recovery from their injuries.

In times of adversity, unity and common purpose are the only constructive way forward, we must therefore strive even harder to ensure this tragedy is not exploited by those who want to create division and animosity within our communities but instead speak with one voice and drive out intolerance from our communities irrespective of the religion, race and ethnicity of the culprits.



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Emotional Support Can Make a Difference


This Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June) Samaritans in Leeds are joining organisations across the UK to show how donating your time can make a huge difference to the lives of others.

Echoing the findings of its Dying from Inequality report released earlier this year, Samaritans is highlighting the particular need for emotional support for those who are disadvantaged, as they are more at risk of suicide.

“I would say that in many of the calls I take, deprivation is a factor,” said Samaritans Chair Jenni McCartney. “It could be anything from debt to housing issues, job insecurity to relationship breakdown or bereavement. There is often some level of disadvantage, which can aggravate those challenges and make people more vulnerable to suicidal thoughts.”

Jenni, who has been a volunteer for more than thirty years, is one of more than twenty thousand Samaritans volunteers who offer support to anyone who may be feeling overwhelmed, by phone, email, text, letter or face to face.

Samaritans volunteers in Leeds can also be found everywhere from schools, workplaces, communities, charity shops and prisons.


Since September 2015, Samaritans has offered calls to its 116 123 number for free, removing any financial barrier to calling, with support from telecoms companies and the Big Lottery Fund. Last year, its volunteers made a difference by responding to more than 5.7 million calls for help, an increase of 300,000 on the previous year.

“Samaritans volunteers can make the difference between someone getting through tough times, or not. But we’re just one part of the equation,” said Alwyne Greenbank Director of Leeds Samaritans. “Suicide is an inequality issue. For example, if you are male, middle-aged and from the poorest background you are ten more times at risk of suicide than if you’re from the richest. We want to see everyone from politicians and policy makers to employers and educators working together to reduce inequality and ensure that resources are targeted at those who are most at risk.”

Samaritans Leeds would like to mark the week by thanking everyone who gives their time to help achieve its mission, that fewer people die by suicide.

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LOOM: A Weekend of Words, Music, Art & Comedy at Sunny Bank Mills



This May Bank Holiday weekend Sunny Bank Mills have teamed up with Trouble at Mill to put together LOOM, a superb line-up of words, music, theatre art and comedy.

The weekend is split into three shifts, each offering its own unique flavor.

On Saturday night, Trouble at Mill (27 May, 7PM) welcomes the touring version of Red Ladder Theatre Company’s The Damned United, which adapts David Peace’s acclaimed novel to tell the story of Brian Clough’s 44 days as manager of Leeds United. They’re joined by virtuoso guitarist Aziz Abrihim, who has toured with well known bands and musicians across the world including The Stone Roses, Simply Red and Paul Weller.

Sunday sees the whole mill taken over for The Afternoon Shift (28 May, 11AM – 5PM). A handpicked selection of speakers, musicians and artists includes Andy Kershaw (former Radio 1 DJ), writers Alice Nutter (The Accused) and Lisa Holdsworth (Midsomer Murders), Dunstan Bruce (Chumbawamba), James Brown (former editor of Loaded & GQ), Testament (World Record holding beatboxer), Zodwa Nyoni (Ode to Leeds, West Yorkshire Playhouse) and many more.

Food is provided by Bear’s Pantry, who is resident at the Mill. There’ll also be the Kraftwerks Makers Market, The Rose & Brown Vintage Fair, print making workshops and a chance to visit the mill’s archive to learn more about its fascinating history.


On Sunday night things are rounded off with plenty as laughs courtesy of comedy special Chuckle at Mill (28 May, 8PM). Headlining is Tom Wrigglesworth, who’s appeared on Russell Howard’s Good News, BBC Radio 4’s The News Quiz, The Now Show and The Infinite Monkey Cage. He’s supported by anarchic physical comedian Wes Zaharuk and music is courtesy of Maia, playing their very own brand of swaggering harmonic sci-fi folk.


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Carers Leeds Wins National Award


Carers Leeds, which offers support, advice and information to carers recently won a GSK IMPACT Award, recognising  excellence in charities improving health and wellbeing in their communities.

The charity picked up its award at a ceremony in the Science Museum, London, after taking part in a three day development programme with The King’s Fund.

There are 6.5 million carers across the UK supporting a loved one who is older, disabled or seriously ill. There are thought to be more than 73,000 carers in Leeds, and there has been an increase in the number of carers of working age who are caring for parents. The pressures of caring contribute to significant health and wellbeing challenges, with research by Carers UK showing that 82 per cent of carers believe caring has a negative impact on their health and 55 per cent experiencing depression.

Carers Leeds is committed to improving the lives of the city’s unpaid carers and helping them to continue caring. Based in Leeds city centre, it delivers confidential one-to-one and group support, as well as advice over the phone and online.

The charity has played a key role in reshaping local services around the needs of carers. In 2014, it became the single point of access to services for carers in Leeds, which had previously been divided between five separate organisations. Carers now have just one telephone number to remember and can access a greater range of services.

Carers Leeds is determined to reach out to different groups of carers and to tailor its support to the diverse communities in the city. Identifying particular barriers to mainstream services faced by Gypsies and Travellers carrying out caring roles, Carers Leeds staff have been introduced to a local Gypsy and Traveller site and engaged with the community in promoting information and advice.

The charity also runs other specialist projects, including training for carers of people with living with dementia, and support for bereaved carers and those affected by the substance or alcohol abuse of someone they know.

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General Election 2017- Getting Out the Youth Vote


By Imam Qari Asim, MBE

Imam, Makkah Mosque Leeds

@Qari Asim


On Thursday 8 June, Britain will elect its new government. But millions of young people will not vote, too many are still not on the electoral register.


It is encouraging to see that in the last week, applications to register have exceeded 100,000. Of those applying to vote each day, nearly 40% have been under-25s. However, how many of those applicants are from ethnic minorities is not known. Before the last general election, 186,000 missed the register to vote deadline. To vote in this General Election, first time voters need to register by 11:59pm on 22 May.


The voting apathy troubles me greatly, particularly when I see young people in the Middle East and Africa striving, at times risking their lives, to have the democratic right to elect their governments.


Therefore, since the announcement of the snap election, I have been campaigning to get more and more young people to register to vote. Last week, faith leaders participated in a #MyFaithMyVote social media initiative to urge people of all faiths to get behind a voter registration drive, showing that those of faith want to help shape the direction of the country alongside others in society. Hundreds of mosques, last Friday, encouraged their congregations to register to vote and ensure their voices are heard.


When I talk to young people about exercising the hard-won democratic right, I often hear them say: “my vote will not make any difference”, “the political parties are all as bad as each other”; “I don’t understand what I am voting for”; “the parties are more interested in getting into power than caring about young people.” etc. Regrettably, young people do not realise this act of disengagement immediately becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.


Young people and the black and minority ethnic (“BME”) voters are particularly sour about elections. This decline in voting could be seen as a democratic crisis. The reality is that a large percentage of young people are politically engaged. But, first, the conventional metrics used to measure their involvement do not include, among other things, non-electoral civic engagement, and secondly, political parties are not engaging with young people on their priorities. The problem does not necessarily rest with potential voters, rather the political elite.


We are seeing, for example, a lot of young people participating in Labour’s rallies – whether or not they will vote for Labour remains to be seen. The Scottish independence referendum showed that people respond to politics and/or policies when they say something emotional about the world they live in –their sense of belonging, rootedness, control, jobs. The challenge is to keep such voters politically engaged when they might feel disillusioned. Political parties need to earn back the trust and interest of the disengaged voters.


Ethnic minorities traditionally voted for Labour but now there is no such thing as block vote. The votes are now split by ethnicity, class and region, according to Runnymede Trust’s study into Ethnic Minority British Election February 2012.


Recent research carried out by Operation Black Vote, shows that 31 of the 50 most marginal seats have significant BME populations that can be critical to   winning those seats.


In Yorkshire a number of Labour seats can easily be lost if the UKIP members vote for conservatives. The BME vote is, therefore, crucial in some of the fiercest battlegrounds of this General Election.


The major BME community is Muslim. There are around three million Muslims in this country and nearly half of the population is under the age of 25. Muslims are likely to have the highest number of first time voters. Parties should be fighting over those votes: first time voters are less encumbered by the baggage of existing party allegiance.


The engagement with millions of Muslims requires nuanced and tailored strategy. The polls have shown that Muslim voters, to an extent, have similar political concerns as their white British peers – thriving economy, lower taxes, a strong NHS, controlled immigration, and law and order.


In addition, British Muslims have distinctive political concerns around safety and security in their everyday lives compared to their ethnic and faith peers. These are not necessarily only Muslim issues but societal issues, which are for the common good of all.


The growing level of Islamophobia and the rise in Far Right sentiments towards Muslims is of immense concern to the community. From London Mayoral elections to Brexit; Trump’s journey to the White House to Le Pen’s political defeat, these political campaigns seem to have legitimised hatred and bigotry towards Muslims. What is most painful for Muslims is that there has not been strong condemnation of such anti-Muslim hatred by the political elite.


Our politicians must take anti-Muslim hatred seriously and stamp it out of political rhetoric and actions. Those who fuel hatred against any ethnic or faith minority must be publically challenged. Muslims are searching for a political leadership that will do everything in its power to stop long-simmering anti-Muslim hatred.


UKIP was destroyed in the local elections earlier this month and, thankfully, are not expected to gain any seats in the General Election, yet instead of focusing on economic reforms to appeal to their voters who are economically pessimistic and struggling UKIP has put banning the burqa at the core of its election campaign. This shows that the Far Right movements want to reinforce the us-v-them narrative in our political discourse.


Amongst the BME communities, Muslims are the least well-resourced and somewhat more isolated section of the community, and young Muslims are looking to vote for those parties that will promise to invest in their neighbourhoods, create job opportunities and bring prosperity to their lives, leading to better economic and social integration.


To young people, I say that they must exercise their democratic right to have their say in shaping the direction of their country; if they have any political grievances, now is an opportunity to engage and influence issues democratically. There is no doubt that the repercussions of this General Election will be felt for many years, so let’s play our role in securing a better future.

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Remembering Oluwale Anthology Wins at Saboteur Awards


The Remembering Oluwale Anthology, published by Scarborough-based Valley Press in 2016, has won the Best Anthology category in the prestigious, national Saboteur Awards 2017, against a very strong field.

Remembering Oluwale Editor, SJ Bradley and Max Farrar, Secretary to the David Oluwale Memorial Association charity, attended the glittering event in London at the weekend.

“It is so wonderful to have Remembering Oluwale recognised by the Saboteur Awards,” said SJ Bradley. “This is a book which faces up to a shameful episode in Leeds’ history, and persuades the city to do better.

“David Oluwale was a man who could so easily have been forgotten – at the time of his death, the only official records left about him were the arrest records left by the police who victimized him, and papers from a psychiatric institution. It’s testament to the resonances of his story that so much wonderful and powerful writing has come about and continues to do so. I am so proud to have been a part of it.”

“We won this award because the book is full of excellent writing and because we have a fantastic set of partners,” said Max Farrar. “The Remember Oluwale charity is tiny and it succeeds because of the collaborations it has with lots of other dedicated campaigning and arts organisations in Leeds. SJ Bradley is a supreme editor. Fiona Gell and her team make the Leeds Big Bookend a very special kind of festival, and our publishers, Valley Press, were absolutely excellent. We thank all of our supporters for voting. This was teamwork at its best. Boosting writers, well-known and soon-to-be known, in a cause of enormous contemporary significance.”

The Anthology was the result of the Remember Oluwale Writing Prize 2016 which was launched in partnership with three Leeds-based organizations:  the Leeds Big Bookend Festival, the David Oluwale Memorial Association and Fictions of Every Kind.

Writers were invited to submit new short stories and poems which creatively responded to David Oluwale’s life and death for an anthology that reflected on the issues raised by David’s story.

David Oluwale arrived in Hull in 1949, from Nigeria, and was found drowned in the River Aire in Leeds in 1969. Two Leeds police officers were accused of his manslaughter and put on trial. During his time in Leeds, David faced a range of issues: mental ill-health, homelessness, destitution, racism, police brutality, and incarceration in prisons and hospitals.


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LGBT Communities in Leeds Experiencing Mental Health Crisis


Mental health is the number one health and wellbeing priority for LGBT+ people in the city according to community research undertaken by the Leeds LGBT+ Mapping Project.

The survey of LGBT+ people in Leeds found that nine out of ten of the respondents had experienced mental health difficulties that had impacted severely on their day to day life in the last five years. Around 40% of respondents said that they weren’t confident they would be able to find support for their mental health that was appropriate for them.

“Some LGBT+ people in Leeds are having poor experiences accessing mental health support where services and practitioners do not have the cultural awareness or understanding of their lives”, said Anne-Marie Stewart, Community Development Worker for The Leeds LGBT+ Mapping Project. “Research tells us the high rates of mental health difficulties within our communities is driven by experiences of discrimination, violence, bullying and a lack of safe and welcoming spaces.”

The project also found that experiences of homophobic and transphobic hate crime were common to many LGBT+ people in Leeds and ranged from verbal abuse and harassment to sexual assault and physical violence.

The full report can be found here  and the summary can be found here

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New 20mph Zones in Adel


The Department for Transport’s guidance on local speed limits encourages local authorities to introduce more 20mph zones and clearly highlights a more flexible approach in the use of 20mph speed limits – particularly where pedestrian and cyclist movements are high, such as around schools, shops, markets, playgrounds and other areas which are not part of any major through route.

The objective of these 20mph zones and limits is to enhance the local environment by reducing vehicle speeds to create a safer road environment for all, but with particular emphasis on children. The introduction of 20mph zones in the vicinity of schools and their surrounding residential areas is also designed to encourage children to walk or cycle to school.

The introduction of 20 mph schemes is a well-established element of Leeds City Council’s programme of road casualty reduction in residential areas, and has had success in reducing both traffic speeds and the number of recorded injury accidents in these areas.

Consultation will be undertaken with the Emergency Services and West Yorkshire Combined Authority (formerly Metro) ahead of general consultation Each affected school will be consulted with in writing ahead of moving forward to advertisement of the new speed limit order. Notices will be placed on street covering the advertisement of the 20mph speed limit and the vertical traffic calming. These notices will include a plan of the proposed 20mph zone or limit for information. The advertisements will also be placed in the local press.










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A City Less Grey: Kirkgate Site Gets New Look


There’s a change of scenery for people passing through Kirkgate as a new piece of street art occupies the local landscape.

The latest installation in the A City Less Grey project has seen Leeds tattoo artist Joe Dickinson make his mark on the hoardings covering the First White Cloth Hall; his artwork replaces the work of Kasia Breska, the first artist to install as part of a rolling programme.

A City Less Grey, initiated by East Street Arts and fully funded by LeedsBID (Leeds Business Improvement District), sees a series of street art installations taking place across Leeds city centre, using urban art to inject colour into corners of the city, with Kirkgate and Sovereign Square the first sites to be transformed.

Joe’s bright installation in his bold tattoo style features key images from Leeds’ heritage including an owl, Yorkshire rose and a locomotive. A graffiti artist born in Leeds, Joe mainly uses spray paint to create his art, favouring bold colours, graphic heavy and always with a sense of fun. You can find out more Joe’s work on Instagram @trackrat

Joe’s artwork will be in situ for three months before spoken word organisation Firm of Poets transform the site once again in their artistic style.

A City Less Grey will see seven artists, both locally and nationally based, create street art installations and events across five sites throughout the city centre, kick-starting an exhilarating time for urban art in Leeds.



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St Chad’s Expansion Proposal


This is an issue that will permanently affect the West Park area and, if you are a local resident, your views are important.

The Abbey Multi Academy Trust (MAT) is proceeding with the proposal to permanently expand St Chad’s C of E Primary School. This would lead eventually to a school population capacity of 420. Since this would require part of West Park Fields to be fenced off as a school sports pitch, approval has to be sought from Fields-in-Trust.

The previous public consultation, organised by School Services, showed that among school staff, parents, and residents:

  • 51% opposed the expansion proposal on the current site
  • 53% opposed the use of West Park fields being used as part of the expansion.

A feature of the proposal that has not been subject to public consultation concerns the football pitch for the school. MAT wish to fence off and move the existing football pitch, which is adjacent and parallel to Arncliffe Road, so that it abuts the school site. This would effectively block off the entrance to the fields from Thornfield Road, which is an entrance and view point identified in the West Park Conservation Area documentation; Members of the existing football club would have to book their usage of the pitch through the school; and any use of the “newly created school sports pitch” would probably entail a fee.

These changes will permanently deny casual access to a significant area of the fields to local residents and the general public.

For this reason West Park Residents’ Association (WPRA) will be arguing against the proposal. Fields-in-Trust prefers to have a single contact point, and WPRA has agreed to collect and collate comments from individuals and submit them to FiT.

The Next Step

An application for approval of the fencing-off will be sent by Leeds City Council to Fields-in-Trust, probably within the next two weeks, so please submit your comments to WPRA at ASAP.

Visual Impact of the Proposals

Unfortunately we cannot include a plan of this proposed new layout for the fields because despite our requests LCC have not yet made one available. However we’ll try to send out a plan when we get one. Meanwhile the following details should give an idea of the likely impact.

The first picture below shows the view from the bottom of Thornfield Road. If the proposal goes ahead, the open space between the hedge and the railings will be obscured by mesh fencing 2.5 metre tall. The second picture gives an idea of the extent of the area to be fenced off, and the third one indicates the new location of the fenced-off area.

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