First ever Child Friendly Leeds champions announced

Caption: Winner of The Children's Champion Award, Nathan Popple with carer Chantal Terry

The winners of the first ever Child Friendly Leeds awards were announced in a glittering ceremony last night (Thursday 30 January) at Leeds City Varieties.

The awards, led by Leeds City Council with support from British Gas and Leeds City Varieties, celebrated some of the people, places and organisations helping to make Leeds a child friendly city.

Over 300 nominations came in for inspirational children and young people, child friendly places, people who go the extra mile, and great organisations, with the winners announced at tonight’s special event.

The awards showcased the talent, achievements and energy of the city’s children and young people, as well as highlighting and celebrating what people, places and organisations are doing to make Leeds a child friendly city.

It was a particularly proud night for Y Productions – the group of young volunteers aged between 10 and 19, recruited through the council’s Young Advisors programme and the City Varieties theatre group – who planned and ran the event from start to finish. Thanks to their hard work the audience were treated a night to remember with performances from a variety of Leeds-based stars-in-the-making that included dancing; magic; confetti and a film première.

The children’s champion award went to Nathan Popple, 17, from north Leeds who created the website www.accessibleleeds.com to review accessibility in Leeds venues and campaign for change.

Winner of the looking after children and young people award was John Forbes, a foster carer and chair of the Foster Carer Liaison Group for many years. He has made a difference to many children’s lives in Leeds and inspired others to become foster carers.

The title of best place for children and young people, receiving many nominations for the activities and support they provide, was First Floor, West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Dance Action Zone Leeds (DAZL) were given the prize for best overall contribution to child friendly Leeds and closed the show with a fantastic performance.

Eighteen months after HRH Queen Elizabeth II helped launched the city’s Child Friendly Leeds ambitions at Leeds City Varieties, it was fitting that the venue hosted the first child friendly Leeds celebratory awards.

Nadia Maumonait, from the Y Productions planning group, explained how much working on the awards meant to her and the team.

Nadia said:

“I enjoyed the fact that I got to work with lots of new people and I had the opportunity to get involved and make a difference in something as big as this.

“I have learnt how to be a really good team member and how anyone can get involved to be a part of Child Friendly Leeds.”

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member responsible for children’s services said:

“The awards received hundreds of nominations, which goes to show how much fantastic work is going on in Leeds to make it a great place to grow up. Congratulations to all the winners and nominees, they are shining examples of what it really means to be child friendly: great places for children to play and learn and listen to their voices so we change what we do, to make our city better.

“Becoming a child friendly city is something that everybody can get involved in. So many people across the city have got right behind our ambition and these awards are a great opportunity for us to recognise and celebrate their great work and achievements.”

The awards themselves reflect the growing partnership between different organisations to promote the child friendly city work. Particular support was received from British Gas, who sponsored the whole event and City Varieties who hosted the event at no cost and supported the young people’s planning group to run the event through workshops, training and much more. Leeds First Direct Arena also donated prizes and gave the members of Y Productions a special treat for their hard work organising the event.

Cllr Blake added:

“The success of this event owes a huge amount to the support of several businesses, who have shared our enthusiasm for celebrating people in our city who are helping to make Leeds a great place to grow up.

“We always welcome more businesses that are willing to make a pledge about they can help make Leeds a great place to live for all our children and young people.”

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive member responsible for leisure and skills and chair of the City Varieties Music Hall board said:

“I am delighted that the theatre is playing such a vital role in the Child Friendly Leeds Awards. With its extensive Learning Programme for young people and a very successful youth theatre it is a perfect venue for such an event.”

Alison Bush from British Gas in Leeds, said:

“We employ over 2,000 in Leeds, many who will be parents themselves, which is why we are sponsoring the awards for the first time this year. I was impressed not only by the number but also the quality of the entries. I’d like to congratulate all the winners and finalists who help make Leeds a safe and secure place for children and young people to live in and enjoy.”

For more information about how to get involved see www.leeds.gov.uk/childfriendlyleeds and http://childfriendlyleeds.wordpress.com/.

The Child Friendly Leeds campaign is backed by the Yorkshire Evening Post. They recently threw their weight behind the vision of Leeds to be the best city in the country for children and young people to grow up in.

The Yorkshire Evening Post has launched a survey aimed at improving the lives of youngsters across the city and to give them a voice. The paper is also calling on the business community to sign a pledge to give their assurances they will provide opportunities to brighten the prospects for every child living in Leeds.

A full list of the shortlisted nominees:

Children’s champion

Francis Edwards (17, North Leeds): a member of Leeds Youth Council, Francis campaigns for wheelchair access and volunteers at a riding centre for disabled children.

Natasha Raistrick (15, South Leeds): volunteers at Breeze on Tour, Breeze Friday Night project and a local summer camp.

Nathan Popple (16, North West Leeds): created www.accessibleleeds.com to review accessibility and campaign for change.

Paul Cowling (16, North East Leeds): organised a youth forum leading to the development of a skate park and holiday activities in Swillington.

Zak Kershaw (13, South Leeds): a member of Youth Matters, Zak gets involved with everything from interviewing staff to supporting the minibus driver.

Looking after children and young people

Kathy Burgess: a deaf blind communicator in Leeds, her support changes children’s lives.

Angela Morris & Julie Calvert: as foster carers, the commitment, love and security they show supports children in their care to succeed.

John Forbes: a key member of the Foster Carer Liaison Group and a dedicated foster carer for many years, he has made a difference to many children in Leeds.

Abdul Ghafoor Ratyal: a governor and supplementary school teacher, Abdul supports children through education and cultural activities.

Mandy Brown: a travel buddy for young people with additional needs, Mandy’s compassionate approach gains fantastic feedback.

Best place in Leeds for children and young people

Abbey House Museum & Kirkstall Abbey: a unique and delightful place for children to learn and have fun.

The ArtBug Studio: an art studio just for children and young people.

First Floor, West Yorkshire Playhouse: music, drama and art activities for children and young people

The Beck: one-to-one support, group work, sports activities, parent/carer support, counselling and more!

Herd Farm Activity Centre: activity sessions, educational courses and weekend stays for children and young people in a beautiful setting.

Best overall contribution to child friendly Leeds

Out 2 25: activities, support and a non-judgemental meeting space for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning young people.

Dance Action Zone Leeds (DAZL): an inspirational and inclusive dance group in Leeds.

The Grand Theatre & City Varieties Learning Team: arts and performance opportunities from backstage tours to youth theatre, holiday activities and more.

Trinity Leeds: Leeds’ latest shopping centre, the team have supported exciting projects benefitting the city’s children and young people.

Catering Leeds provides an enjoyable, healthy and child-centred lunchtime experience for children and young people in Leeds schools.


For media enquiries, please contact:

Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713

Email: emma.whittell@leeds.gov.uk