Kirkstall councillor shortlisted for Covid hero award

hannah bithell kirkstall
Cllr Hannah Bithell

Councillor Hannah Bithell has been shortlisted for a prestigious national award that recognises the contributions of “Covid-19 Heroes”.

The Cllr Awards, run by the Local Government Information Unit, are the only national ceremony to celebrate the contributions of our councillors. 2020 is the 11th year of their showcasing the achievements of councillors across England. 

As a nominee in the “Covid-19 Hero” category, Cllr Bithell has been recognised as making sure that vital services are continued and as having gone above and beyond to ensure that no one is left behind during the crisis.

As well as holding down her keyworker role as part time teacher, Cllr Bithell has taken a leading role on a number of projects that have had a positive impact on the community. These include;

  • setting up a system of providing food parcels to schools which they could distribute to families in need
  • setting up a school uniform exchange across 3 wards, coordinating volunteers to collect, sort and deliver hundreds of pieces of uniform
  • coordinating student changeover for Kirkstall as students moved out of Leeds, coordinating volunteers to collect donations, sort stock and deliver to local charity shops and projects supporting homeless people
  • using social media to coordinate food drives to keep our food distribution points stocked

Cllr Bithell is setting up:

·      a men’s walking group to combat isolation and high rates of male suicide – including identifying men to lead the project

·      a permanent food bank in an area of the ward not currently covered.

·      as the council’s Obesity Champion, setting up accessible, inclusive, targeted exercise classes for people with weight and mobility issues.

·      a third sector funding workshop across Kirkstall, Bramley & Stanningley and Armley wards to help small voluntary/community organisations access funding.

Cllr Fiona Venner, (Labour, Kirkstall), who nominated her ward colleague said:

“I have nominated Hannah because I have been moved, inspired and frequently exhausted by the volume of work Hannah has undertaken, the innovation, passion and creativity she has displayed and the leadership she has demonstrated as a new, young councillor.

“Hannah has worked with energy, compassion and determination. If a problem has presented itself, Hannah has found a solution.

“To be shortlisted for this award from 200 people is well deserved recognition of her tireless community work over the last six months.”

Cllr Bithell said she was surprised by the news and Tweeted:

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  1. I work for Leeds City Council School Transport. We take children with disability too and from school. Many of my Colleagues worked through lockdown taking the children of critical workers to school so that we still had nurses, doctors, cleaners, teachers, refuse collectors, Police Officers etc etc. None of my colleagues had a choice. They weren’t asked if they would do it and I know many of them were frightened of being exposed to a virus they might pass on to their families. But they couldn’t afford to lose their job so they worked as instructed (without PPE to begin with). I saw Teaching Assistants upset because I had handed out wood working masks to my Passenger Assistants and I bought Isopropyl alcohol off Amazon, safety glasses and gloves to sanitise my bus and protect my fellow workers (until stuff was supplied). Schools had nothing so we shared what we had. Some of my colleagues didn’t want to self-isolate even though they had underlying health issues because they felt guilty.
    I would like to recognise Passenger Assistants on school transport Minibuses (and in taxi’s) who had to cope with very challenging behaviours at a very difficult time.


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