Thursday, 17 July 2014

Raising awareness of reforms for children with complex needs

Picture caption: (l-r) "Cllr Lisa Mulherin executive member for health and wellbeing with Aimee Grayson - who spoke at the conference and Cllr Jane Dowson, lead member for children and families."

Children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities, and their families, are to be more involved in decisions made about their lives, through changes being implemented by Leeds City Council as part of national reforms.

At an event at Leeds Civic Hall, elected members and school governors heard how the council and its partners will be implementing some of the biggest changes to services, seen in recent years, for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

The reforms, which will be introduced from September, will see improved services for families with children with complex needs. They follow the introduction of the Children and Families Act 2014, which became law in March this year.

People who attended the conference heard that the new act will make education, health and social care services more ‘joined up’ for children and young people with complex needs and their families, so that they only have to ‘tell their story once’. This will include changes to how children and young people with the most complex needs have their needs assessed and how plans are made to meet those needs. The new laws will also give families more choice and control about the services they access, and more opportunities to get involved in planning services for the future.

Councillor Jane Dowson, lead member for children and families said:
“These reforms prompt a major shift in culture and practice amongst those working with children and young people with Special Educational needs and Disabilities, and their families. Reminding us that parents and carers know their children and young people best and that children and young people themselves are often highly aware of the their own needs and clear about their aspirations.

“The emphasis on the importance of listening to children and young people and their families, valuing and honouring their views, and working in partnership with them to make decisions and plan for the future, very much echoes our own ambition to make Leeds a child friendly city. As well as reinforcing our local approach of restorative practice and working with families, rather than doing things ‘for’ or ‘to’ them.

“As part of our implementation of these reforms we will be looking to personalise our services in recognition of every families’ unique individual strengths, challenges, and circumstances and develop new ways of working to assess and plan for support of those with the most complex needs.”

Those who attended the conference heard how the council and its partners will work closely with parents and carers as they prepare to implement the Act, ensuring they are involved at all levels including the highest level of strategic decision making. Children and young people with SEND have also been supported to have input into decision making in a way that meets their needs.

The council is keen to raise awareness of these changes and has already organised conferences, briefings and drop-ins for practitioners of all kinds, and has been sending out a regular newsletter to all partners, using short films, blog and social media to promote awareness.

People can find out more about how partners across education, health and social care are working with parents and carers and children and young people with SEND to make the new laws happen here in Leeds on our webpage at

To find out more or get involved, contact the best practice team via

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

Annual youth arts festival Breezes in to Leeds

The biggest arts festival for young people in West Yorkshire heads to Leeds this week with the start of the Breeze Arts Festival.

Now in its eighteenth year the festival (formerly the Breeze International Youth Festival) is back and bigger than ever, with over 30 events over nine days, and runs from Saturday 19 July to Sunday 27 July.

The festival, for 11-19 year olds, has got even bigger with even more events to take part in than last year. The festival team has been working with many partner organisations such as Phoenix Dance, East Leeds FM, RJC Dance, Pyramid of Arts, The Tetley, and many more to give young people in Leeds a platform to showcase their talents. The majority of events are free or have a Breezecard discount. Events take place all over the city; in libraries, First Floor, Trinity Shopping Centre, Hyde Park Cinema and Leeds Town Hall.

This year a group of young people have helped the festival team plan, programme and manage the festival. The group of nine young people, who are aged between 11 and 18, have chosen the projects and performances that make up the festival, been involved in designing the posters and marketing, and have chosen the groups who will perform at the launch event – Breeze on Briggate on Saturday 19 July.

The outdoor stage on Briggate will host live dance and music from various groups from across Leeds, including DAZL, Kirsty White (winner of Breeze has Talent 2013), SAA-uk and Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows. The young panel also chose Absent Parachute as the Breeze choice band to play on Briggate alongside D-Fault – winners at the AMP Awards at the O2 Academy.

The group chose events for the festival that they felt will appeal to young people with lots of different interests. Activities on offer include; a special effects make-up workshop, a flymarket, Lego animation workshop, DJ workshops, gaming, dance and theatre workshops, stop-motion film screenings and live performances.

Festival goers will also have the opportunity to go on a tour of Leeds Town Hall and admire the views across Leeds after climbing the 203 steps to the top. This is an opportunity to see bits of the building not normally open to the public and there’s no other tour like it in Leeds.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive member responsible for digital and creative technologies, culture and skills, said:
“Breeze Arts Festival continues to offer a huge range of opportunities for young people to get involved in the arts, and I’m proud to support the festival. Breeze Arts Festival partners with a lot of different organisations who all put in a lot of hard work to create the excellent range of activities and events.”

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member responsible for children and families said:
“It is great that young people have been on the organising panel and have helped create a festival which will appeal to a young people with a wide range of interests.

“Child Friendly Leeds all is about listening to our children and young people, and by getting involved in this year’s festival these youngsters will not only have had a fantastic experience themselves they will have also produced an event which is relevant and exciting for other young Leeds citizens to enjoy.”

More information and how to book tickets can be found at:


For media enquiries please contact
Helen Taylor, Leeds City Council Arts Development, on 0113 247 8539

Notes to Editors:

• Breeze Arts Festival is run by Leeds City Council’s Arts Development team. The Arts Development team create opportunities for people to take part in the cultural life of their city, leading the way through the arts.
• Other photographs available on request. Please contact Helen Taylor
• Press reviewers and photographers are welcome to attend the festival. If you would like to cover the festival, please contact Helen Taylor in advance to arrange appropriate access.
• To help festival goers plan their week, Leeds City Council have produced a full colour brochure, containing information about all the projects, a full schedule of events, and booking information. A downloadable programme are available at

Private fostering is everyone’s business

People who are looking after a child who is not a close relative are being urged to let Leeds City Council know about the arrangement.

When child or young person is being looked after by someone who is not a close relative it is called ‘private fostering’. People in Leeds who are aware of such an arrangement are being reminded this week to let Leeds City Council know, to ensure the safety and well-being of the child. By informing the council, the private foster carer will also be able to access advice from the council’s private fostering experts.

Private fostering describes an arrangement when someone, who is not a close relative, cares for another person’s child, who is under 16 (or under 18 if they have a disability), for a consecutive 28 days or more. Although private fostering is arranged between the parent and the private foster carer - and not through the local authority or a fostering agency - it is important that both parties inform the council so the appropriate safeguarding checks can be carried out.

People who work with children are also being reminded of their responsibility to let the council know if they are aware of any private fostering arrangements.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member for children’s services said:
“Everybody has a role in keeping our children safe – whether you are a teacher, youth worker, neighbour or you just chat to other parents at the school gate. If you hear about a child who you think may be privately fostered please let us know so we can ensure the child is being kept safe and is getting the support they need.

“Private foster carers may also be eligible for free advice and support, so it is in their best interests to let us know about any arrangements they have.

“Nobody knows exactly how many children are being privately fostered and we need everyone’s help to raise this issue. It is important that the council is made aware of these arrangements so we can carry out the appropriate assessments to make sure vulnerable children in our city are safe.”

Private fostering arrangements can occur for different reasons including:
• Children / young people whose parents work or study long and / or anti-social hours.
• Children / young people sent to the UK for education or health care by birth parents from overseas.
• Children / young people living with a friend's family as a result of parental separation, divorce or difficulties at home.
• Teenagers living with their partner's family.

More information on private fostering can be found on Leeds City Council’s website
or by contacting Leeds City Council’s Duty and Advice Team on 0113 2224403 or

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

Council serves up free table tennis sessions across Leeds

Caption: L-R England table tennis international Shayan Siraj, 12, at the launch of Ping! Leeds with Councillor Katherine Mitchell and Linda Sanderson, of the council's library and information service, who is Leeds and Bradford ladies table tennis champion.

Visitors to Trinity Kitchen got some table service with a difference when they got to see one of the country’s top young ping pong stars in action.

England table tennis international Shayan Siraj, 12, was at the shopping centre’s food court earlier today (Thursday) to launch the new Ping! Leeds campaign, backed by Leeds City Council, which aims to get more people playing the sport this summer.

After seeing Shayan’s skills first hand, customers then got the chance to battle it out to see who were the city’s ping pong supremos.

As well as Trinity Kitchen, Ping! Leeds will see twenty five tables springing up across the city until the end of August at locations including Leeds Kirkgate Market, Roundhay Park Tropical World and Temple Newsam.

Councillor Katherine Mitchell, Leeds City Council’s lead member for digital and creative technologies, culture and skills, said:

“Table tennis is a really fun sport that people of all ages and abilities can play, so these free tables will be a great way of encouraging people to get active when they’re out and about around Leeds this summer.

“We’ve picked a really exciting and varied list of locations for tables too which should give everyone the chance to pick up a bat and enjoy a game.”

Paul Smith, marketing manager at Trinity Leeds, added:

“Ping! is such a great idea and a perfect fit for Trinity Kitchen which is all about delivering new and exciting experiences. We’re delighted to be hosting a table and can’t wait get hold of a bat for ourselves and give it a go!”

Leeds is one of 16 regions that have been selected to be part of Ping! this year, including Birmingham, Liverpool, London and Sheffield.

As well as the free tables, Leeds’s Ping! initiative will also feature a programme of activities, including masterclasses and tournaments.

Sally Shutt, coach development officer with Table Tennis England, said:

“This is an excellent opportunity to showcase table tennis as a sport for all which has huge appeal to both young and old, expert and novice, able and disabled alike.

“The people of Leeds will find tables in various locations throughout the city and be able to join in a variety of fun activities including master classes and competitions for free.”


For more information please contact:
Stuart Robinson
Communications Officer
Leeds City Council
Tel: 0113 224 3937

Notes to Editors:

About Ping!
Ping! is produced by Sing London, the participatory arts organisation whose citywide projects aim to lift the public’s spirit. Previous projects include London’s Street Pianos Project and Talking Rubbish bins. Sing London believe it often takes just a small intervention – such as a public ping pong table - to generate social interaction and make cities feel happier places to be.
Ping! is developed in partnership with Table Tennis England, the national governing body for table tennis. It is funded by Sport England through National Lottery funding as part of their aim to get more people playing sport at least once a week.

Ping pong factfile:

-‘Flim-Flam', 'Gossima', 'Whiff Whaff’, ‘Table Tennis’, ‘Ping Pong’ - whatever the name, it began as an English parlour game in the 1890's and was played on a dining room table
- The original bat was a book! Today, bats are made of wood or plastic
- According to Sport England’s Active People Survey, table tennis is the fastest growing sport for women with participation doubling in the last 5 years
- Table tennis was admitted as a full medal sport at the Seoul Olympics in 1988
- Current world powers in table tennis are China, Korea, Japan and Germany
- Table tennis is one of the fastest growing sports in England: 98,800 people now play table tennis once a week

Leeds City Council officer is a 'local authority hero'

News release issued on behalf of Locality

Neil Charlesworth, Community Asset Officer at Leeds City Council, has been named as a ‘local authority hero by Locality’, the leading nationwide network for community-led organisations.

Locality’s Local Authority Heroes Awards celebrate the nation’s ‘local government heroes’ – the councillors and council staff who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to support community organisations in their local area.

All the ‘heroes’ were nominated by local community organisations, and Locality members, in their area.

Neil was nominated by Locality member the Bramley Baths and Community Trust, for his ongoing support of Bramley Baths and the trust and excellent relationships he’s built up with them and other community organisations in Leeds.

Cathryn Chrimes of the Bramley Baths and Community Trust, a community-owned swimming baths in Broad Lane, said they nominated Neil because:
“When Leeds City Council said it planned to reduce the hours of Bramley Baths, Neil was immediately open to the idea of a community group managing this asset, and worked very hard to establish a good partnership between us and Leeds City Council that still exists today. Neil guided us patiently through the process. He worked around us, aware of the challenges we faced, even arranging meetings at 7.30am so that we could go to work afterwards. He made us feel comfortable in meetings with senior local authority managers and councillors, and his advice on improving our business plan was invaluable. Neil went over and above his role and is a real community champion.”

Steve Wyler, CEO of Locality, said: “Our Local Authority Heroes Awards are designed to celebrate the local authority staff, such as Neil, involved in outstanding partnership working, and say thank you to him, and to them all, for all their work.”

Neil Charlesworth, Community Assets Officer for Leeds City Council, said: “The individuals from Bramley Baths and Community Trust put a lot of hard work and effort into convincing us they could successfully run the baths. In the eighteen months since they took over they’ve proved that to be the case and turned the baths into a successful community facility for the people of Bramley and beyond which is an important part of the Leeds sport offer. I’m proud to have played a part in such a successful project and honoured to receive this award, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the dedicated, community minded people of Bramley or without Council colleagues from the Sport and Active Recreation Service.”

Councillor Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for Transport and the Economy, said: “I am very pleased that Neil’s hard work has been celebrated with this award. It’s a shining example of the positive ways in which the council can work in partnership with communities to improve their neighbourhood together.”

The Local Authority Heroes Award winners were announced at Locality’s national policy symposium event, held at the RBS building on Bishopsgate, central London, on 30 June 2014.


Locality contact details:
For more press information on the Local Government Hero Awards please contact: Clare Roebuck on 020 7336 9409/ or Jo Shardlow 079 1226 9677/

Leeds City Council contact details:
Laura Ferris, Leeds City Council communications team (0113) 247 5472
Notes to editors:

About Locality
Locality is the leading nationwide network of community enterprises, development trusts, settlements and social action centres. Locality’s membership has expertise in community asset ownership, community enterprise, collaborative working, community voice and advocacy.

Locality assists people to work together to create and capture local wealth for the benefit of communities –giving hands-on support and promoting peer-to-peer exchange.

Locality is running the My Community Rights support service with advice and access to grants for the Community Right to Bid, Right to Challenge and Right to Build as well as Neighbourhood Planning and Our Place. It is also the UK expert on asset transfer - facilitating the transfer of assets into community hands since 2009. It runs the Community Organisers programme mobilising people across England to bring the change they want in their community

Council shows its support for ‘City of Dance’ campaign

Caption: Leeds City Council will be providing further backing to the 'City of Dance' campaign.

A range of support has been agreed by the council this week to promote the credentials of Leeds as a world class city for dance.

This follows a meeting of Leeds City Council’s executive board on Wednesday 16 July, which saw senior councillors discuss how the authority could further add its weight to a campaign that saw six cultural organisations join forces earlier this year to spearhead the ‘Leeds City of Dance’ campaign.

As part of the launch in March 2014, representatives of Balbir Singh Dance Company, Northern Ballet, Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Phoenix Dance Theatre, RJC Dance and Yorkshire Dance visited Leeds Civic Hall, where after performing for councillors they made a deputation to a full meeting of council regarding a new ‘City of Dance’ map. The map not only celebrates the city’s rich heritage in performing arts, but also the reach, engagement and economic and social impact of dance in Leeds. Almost 300,000 people saw a performance by the six organisations in 2012/2013, and a key aim of the project is to encourage more people to take up dance and see a show.

As part of a number of recommendations agreed by councillors at the executive board, further support will now be provided by the council to promote both the City of Dance message and campaign, in a number of different ways. These include the council endorsing City of Dance on its website and other marketing material and working closely with external partners to both promote the concept and explore potential future funding opportunities for dance facilities in the city.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for digital and creative technologies, culture and skills said:

"The sheer number of world class dance organisations in Leeds is absolutely fantastic, and the aim of the ‘City of Dance’ concept is to spread this message even more loudly and proudly, not just nationally, but right around the world in the future. Currently we are looking at options around a potential European Capital of Culture bid for 2023, and there is no doubt that if we do decide to put our name forward, our city’s brilliant dance offer will have a very important role to play.

"With that in mind, we have looked as a council to see what we can do to add further support this campaign which I am pleased was backed by members of the executive board. This will include utilising our own communication and promotional channels, and working with external partners to not only promote City of Dance but also investigate further potential funding opportunities for dance organisations in the city."

Notes to editors:

For more information regarding the City of Dance executive board paper, please see:

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