Community projects net slice of £50k digital divide windfall

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A West Leeds community project is set to benefit from a slice of a £50,000 windfall aimed at tackling the digital divide in the region. 

After a sell-out event, hosted at The Queens Hotel in Leeds, organisers of Leeds Digital Charity Ball have donated a total of £50,000 to five projects across the city.

Working with Leeds Community Foundation to distribute the funds, the annual Leeds Digital Charity Ball brings together members of the tech community to highlight causes of digital exclusion whilst raising funds for projects that support digital inclusivity. 

Over 350 people from across the city attended this year’s charity ball ,raising more than £50,000. The funds were then passed to Leeds Community Foundation, who have now distributed the funds to five worthy causes.

This year there were 21 applicants who applied for funding. Each charity received £10,000 to put towards an annual project which focused on improving access to technology for those in less advantaged or vulnerable positions.

Louise Atkinson

The five charities in receipt of the funding are:

The Highrise Project

A project to highlight the stories, benefits, and challenges of living in social housing, as well as related issues, including sense of community, family history, impact on health and wellbeing, and class. The project is led by two Armley-based artists – Louise Atkinson and Victoria Kortekaas – and while their work is city-wide, it includes the Gamble Hill tower blocks in Bramley.

Your Back Yard

A Leeds-based social enterprise passionate about helping people live healthier, more active, and happier lives across West Yorkshire. Their work includes the Walking Wanderers football team in Bramley Park.

Smart Works Charity 

A charity that supports women, helping them build confidence to get back into employment by providing coaching and work clothing.

Burmantofts Senior Action

A charity dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for older people in the community. 

Meanwood Valley Urban Farm

A charity providing services to inner city communities. It’s not only a working farm with a wide variety of animals but also a major centre for community and environmental work.

Cleveland Henry, Leeds Community Foundation Trustee and Leeds Digital Ball board advisor said: “The digital divide in Leeds was really highlighted during the pandemic. For example, some children were left unable to study due to a lack of access to technology at home, and the elderly and less fortunate were cut off from vital online services. Economic pressures facing everyone this winter, could truly exacerbate this position for many across the city. 

“Events like the Leeds Digital Ball are vital to raising funds to help bridge the digital access and skills gap and it’s something I’m incredibly proud to be involved with. Each funding applicant was incredibly worthy of assistance which made choosing which charities to support extremely difficult. However, it also brought to light how important the funding is and the team behind the ball are really keen to look for further funding opportunities in 2023.”

Following the success of this year’s ball, organisers have confirmed the next event will take place at the Royal Armouries on 11th May 2023. The event promises to be another night to remember as representatives from across the city come together to raise money for new projects. The board wants to emphasise the importance of inclusivity of the event and have pledged to guarantee more free and subsidised tickets for digital leaders of the future. 

As the region’s largest independent funder, Leeds Community Foundation is the only organisation of its kind in Leeds and Bradford, working with hundreds of Community Organisations each year. The Foundation generates philanthropic giving and leverages statutory funding to deliver grants that address specific challenges. This opens up vulnerable and often marginalised communities to a wealth of opportunities including skills, education, health, culture and employment.

Organisations interested in sponsoring the ball, providing auction prizes, or buying tickets are encouraged to contact for more information. 

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