Two milestones for Child Friendly Leeds

Picture caption: Children from Richmond Hill Children's Centre help celebrate the second birthday of Child Friendly Leeds (l-r top picture)Olivia Maynard, Logan Wall, Noah Gale, Nizaisha Sikasote and Luke Gale."

More than 300 individuals have signed now up as ambassadors for the city-wide ambition to make Leeds the most child friendly city in the country.

As the Child Friendly Leeds campaign celebrates its second anniversary, famous Leeds brand Marks and Spencer has become the 301st organisation to sign up to the ambitious campaign, which has seen businesses and organisations of all sizes commit to becoming more focused on the needs and views of children and young people.

Pledges made to support the campaign include: building stronger links with local schools; arranging for staff to become mentors to young people in care; helping to promote and support foster carers across their workforce and; looking at how they can change their services to make them more child friendly.

The campaign was launched in July 2012 when HRH The Queen visited Leeds and helped get the city’s child friendly city bid underway. Since then the campaign has gone from strength to strength.

Children’s Commissioner Maggie Atkinson, a champion for children across the whole of the UK, is a child friendly Leeds ambassador.

There are also a steady stream of ambassadors coming forward from Leeds schools, colleges and organisations such as the NHS and West Yorkshire Probation Service.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member responsible for children and families said:

“We are really proud of how well the child friendly ethos has been embraced by the city. In just two years, to have over 300 individuals, businesses and organisations pledging their support and spreading the child friendly message as ambassadors, is fantastic.

“Child friendly Leeds is a far reaching concept which is about putting children and young people at the heart of everything we do and tackling some of the most serious challenges the city faces. We know there is still long way to go achieve our aim to make Leeds the best city to grow up in.

“We have around 180,000 children and young people in Leeds, and each one of them must have a voice and the opportunity to be involved in decisions about their city. We’ve already listened to thousands of local children and young people and are working to achieve the things that make the most difference to them.

“If we nurture and support our children today we’ll have a better city tomorrow. Everyone in our city can play their part and everyone in our city will benefit from child friendly Leeds.

“By giving our children and young people the best possible start and making Leeds the best place to grow up then we will have a sustainable, prosperous and economic future. Child Friendly Leeds is not just about doing the right thing for children it is about economic regeneration for our whole city as well.”

Mark Robson, Finance and Operations Manager for Marks and Spencer Leeds said:

“We are really excited about getting involved with Child Friendly Leeds, we have been working on projects like "Make Your Mark" for over ten years now, but we think we can do more as a store to support young people into employment. It's important that companies like M&S play their part in the communities that we serve, and Child Friendly Leeds is giving us new opportunities to do so."

Child Friendly Leeds business case study:

Mark and Spencer and the Princes Trust “Make your mark”

One of Leeds City Council’s children’s services’ key ambitions is to reduce the number of young people who are not in education, employment or training. Marks and Spencer’s Make your Mark scheme is one example of how businesses are helping the city to create employment opportunities for young people and help the council achieve this ambition:

Make Your Mark is a four week training and mentoring scheme aimed at unemployed 16 – 25 year olds (who are not in employment, education or training) and gives them the skills, experience and confidence they need to find a job. The young people targeted often have specific needs or are from particular vulnerable groups like refugees, asylum seekers, care leavers, and children who are looked after.

After an application and shortlisting process sixteen successful applicants begin the four week programme with a two day induction from Prince’s Trust and then a day’s induction within the store from M&S. Throughout the four weeks the young people follow training modules which help hone skills developed whilst working in store, improve confidence and prepare them for any future job. Regular feedback and guidance is provided via a dedicated buddy and career coach to ensure the participants achieve a good standard of customer service.

At the end of the programme, they are awarded a certificate and there is a celebratory event

If a participant performs well and receives a satisfactory evaluation from their manager and buddy, M&S may be able to offer them a vacancy if and when one becomes available. If the young person requires additional support prior to employment or if there is not a job vacancy available, they will be offered up to six months post programme support with the Prince’s Trust to find an alternative outcome.

Since 2004, the programme has enabled over 1,100 young people to complete placements in stores and offices across the country, with 50% gaining employment with M&S or another programme within three months.


For media enquiries, please contact:

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

Email: emma.whittell@leeds.gov.uk