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The Giving Back Project

Victoria Leeds names eight local charities that will receive a share of £20,000 donation

Victoria Leeds has revealed the eight charities that have been awarded a grant through its Giving Back Project. Launched in August, the Giving Back Project is a new initiative which will see Victoria Leeds donate a total of £20,000 to support local groups across Leeds that have been hit hard by COVID-19.

Hammerson, which owns Victoria Leeds, has launched the initiative across all ten of its flagship destinations in the UK, meaning charities across the country will receive £200,000 to help them overcome the impact of the pandemic.

Victoria Leeds will award eight £2,500 grants to the following charities and organisations:

Leeds Women’s Aid – The local independent charity provides a range of the very best services for vulnerable women and families who are victims and survivors of: domestic, sexual & honour-based violence and abuse; forced marriage; trafficking; stalking and harassment.

Nik Peasgood, CEO of Leeds Women’s Aid, said: “Leeds Women’s Aid is absolutely delighted to receive a grant of £2,500 from Victoria Leeds. The funding will help us to continue to provide a range of the very best services for vulnerable women and families who are victims and survivors of: domestic, sexual and honour-based violence and abuse; forced marriage; trafficking; stalking and harassment.”

Leeds Wood Recycling – A social enterprise which works to support people back into employment whilst working to divert wood waste from landfill. The charity offers a ‘Skill Tree’ Programme, which teaches people how to use tools and make products from reclaimed wood.

Charlotte Stanley, Manager of Leeds Wood Recycling, said: “Leeds Wood Recycling is so grateful for the support from Victoria Leeds. Covid-19 has had a massive impact on our volunteer capacity. With the grant, we can now extend our Skill Tree sessions and offer more opportunities for people in much need of being ‘seen’ and supported in this community, by giving free woodwork training and work experience. This helps build confidence, boost employability, and create a community in this isolating time.”

St George’s Crypt – Provides immediate care and support, food and accommodation for homeless and vulnerable adults. Services include an overnight centre, drug recovery project, engagement activities, wellbeing sessions and skills training, working towards employability and lasting life changes.

Sarah Smith, Trust Fundraiser for St George’s Crypt, said: “We are delighted and grateful to receive this grant from Victoria Leeds at such a critical time for the charity sector. Working closely with such funders in Leeds allows us to carry on supporting some of the most vulnerable people in the city.”

Leeds South and East Foodbank – Provides emergency support to local residents experiencing food poverty as a result of extreme economic shock. The charity relies entirely on charitable donations for the food and finances needed to operate the 11 distribution centres within South and East Leeds.

Nathanya Laurent, Development Manager at Leeds South and East Foodbank, said: “The pandemic has presented us with many challenges to maintain our service to the most vulnerable people in Leeds, whilst keeping them and all of our staff and volunteers safe. Victoria Leeds’ generous support will help us to continue to do this by funding our ongoing covid-19 resilience restructuring.”

Bevan Healthcare CLC – Provides responsive NHS General Practice services designed to meet the needs of people who are homeless or in unstable accommodation and those who have come to Leeds as refugees or to seek asylum.

Gina Rowlands, Managing Director at Bevan Healthcare CLC, said: “Our job is to work for those people who are most in need and help them start to get to grips with the root causes of their challenges, from health to housing, access to education and work. Our mission is to reduce those inequalities.”

Smart Works Leeds – Supports women from a range of different backgrounds and age groups back into employment by providing coaching, so they feel more confident and start believing in their own ability to succeed. The charity also provides high-quality, appropriate clothing, shoes and accessories to wear for job interviews and when starting new roles.

Jessica Lomax, Centre Manager at Smart Works Leeds, said: “Smart Works Leeds are incredibly grateful for the generous donation from Victoria Leeds and the Give Back Project. Our service, supporting women into work, has been impacted by COVID-19 and as such, we have adapted our service offering to provide virtual options for coaching and dressing appointments. We are lacking in the technological equipment to be able to deliver these virtual options efficiently, so the funding will make a massive difference to the way we are able to support our clients through these challenging times, by allowing us to afford appropriate equipment for our centre.”

Basis Yorkshire – An award-winning charity which works to end stigma, create safety and promote empowerment for women and young people. They support women on a one-to-one basis, holistically addressing their needs, including housing, health, safety and wellbeing, food and other poverty.

Moya Woolven, CEO at Basis Yorkshire, said: “We are so pleased to have been awarded this grant from Victoria Leeds. We know how much this support means to women who are facing significant hardship and unable to feed themselves or their families or engage meaningfully with activities or key services due to digital exclusion and/or social isolation.”

Living Potential – A not-for-profit social enterprise supporting adults and young people with challenges – particularly physical and learning disabilities, autism, Asperger’s or mental ill-health. Part of the wider Care Farming UK network, they use the living resources of a 500 acre working farm to derive therapeutic benefits for their service users.

Tanya Bish, Learning and Development Manager at Living Potential, said: “Living Potential gives vulnerable people the chance to learn and thrive, gaining qualifications, friends and new skills in a therapeutic, nature-based centre. We offer small animal care, horticulture, cooking and arts and crafts plus many workshops, all involving the natural resources of the farm and allowing people to grow and develop at their own pace.”

The Victoria Leeds initiative was developed in partnership with Leeds Community Foundation, who worked with the destination to allocate the grants to those in greatest need. Local organisations were invited to apply to the foundation and each submission was carefully reviewed to identify those that made a significant impact in the community and would benefit from further support. Each of the eight charities were selected based on meeting the following criteria:

· Food bank support and tackling food poverty

· Providing support services to people affected by domestic violence and abuse

· Supporting those who are homeless or rough sleeping

· Providing employment opportunities, enterprise or skills development

The team at Victoria Leeds has worked hard to support its local community throughout the pandemic and provided free parking to NHS workers throughout the summer.

Jo Coburn, General Manager at Victoria Leeds, said: “This has been a really challenging year for everyone, and we know that charities and other organisations across Leeds have really gone the extra mile. This project is all about giving something back to those groups that have pulled out all the stops over the past few months, and need a helping hand to ensure they can continue to carry out their valuable work. We are so grateful for everything they have done.”

Kate Hainsworth, chief executive of Leeds Community Foundation, said the foundation was proud to be working alongside Victoria Leeds. She added: “Their commitment to local initiatives is evidence of the wider impact that can be made through a targeted community approach, making a difference to the lives of those that need help the most.

“It continues to be a tough time for the community sector, and the foundation alongside our partners has been working hard to secure a future for these groups across Leeds and for the communities they support.”


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