Rachel Reeves MP: Armley Helping Hands awards, Sir John Battle and Bramley benches success

Karpaty Bakery
Karpaty Bakery on Armley Town Street scooped an Armley Helping Hands award.

As this is my first column of 2022, I hope it is not too late to wish you all a very Happy New Year!

For me personally, 2022 started on a real high, as I was honoured to join Dawn Newsome, CEO of Armley Helping Hands, to present their remaining ‘Outstanding Community Contribution’ Awards recently.

Several of the awards had already been presented at an awards ceremony, but there were several winners who were unable to attend.

clarkies award
Clarkies Fisheries in Wortley were also recognised

We visited Clarkies Fisheries, Thornton Medical Centre, Priory View Medical Centre, Karpaty Bakery and Corn Mill Lodge Hotel to recognise the fantastic partnership each of these organisations has provided to Helping Hands throughout the pandemic, and the support they have offered to enable Dawn and her team to deliver bespoke services to our community over the past two years.

Congratulations also to Lane End Farm Shop, Jack Dammes Ltd, Armley Moor Medical Centre, Whitehall Surgery, BARCA, Voluntary Action Leeds, New Wortley Community Centre, the West Leeds Dispatch, Armley Neighbour Care Management Team, Seagulls Paint, Leeds Older People’s Forum, and all individual community hub volunteers, who received their awards for outstanding contribution to the community at the awards event last year – and thank you all for everything you have done for our community!

John Battle Knighted in New Year’s Honours

Another piece of positive news to start the year with was that my predecessor John Battle, the MP for Leeds West between 1987 and 2010, has been knighted in the New Year’s Honours for his services to our local community.

Rachel Reeves with Sir John Battle.

Since standing down as an MP just over 11 years ago, John has done more than ever to support our community, including turning historic pool Bramley Baths into a much-loved community enterprise, running the Bramley Credit Union to support vulnerable people at risk of debt, and launching the New Wortley Walking Club to tackle men’s mental health. He is an inspiration to me and to many in Leeds West and beyond.

John has always been a fantastic champion for the people of Leeds West and this honour truly is well deserved. I am very proud to call him my friend.

Canals and River Trust visit

It was a pleasure recently to visit Newlay Locks with representatives from the Canals and River Trust, and to meet with volunteer lock keepers who are integral to keeping our canals working effectively. The Trust is working closely with local organisations, including Bramley Elderly Action, to expand their social prescribing activities. 

The canal towpath network provides free accessible green spaces and active travel routes, which can act as a real boost to the mental and physical health of local people, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic. We also discussed the possibility of using the canals as a means of supplying zero-carbon thermal energy through water-sourced heat pumps, which could potentially provide another efficient carbon neutral source of heating.

Forging Futures Graduation

Once again, I enjoyed joining CEG, I-Consult Yorkshire and apprentices from the Forging Futures programme for their graduation event recently. 

Forging Futures offers opportunities and employment prospects to young people who have not had the same chances, whilst also giving them the skills to work in the building trade and allowing them to work on the innovative eco-development at Kirkstall Forge. 

I am so proud to support this programme and at every graduation I am delighted to see the real change that has been made in these young people’s lives.

“A Place to Sit” Campaign

After a long community campaign, it is great to hear that the Place to Sit activist group and Bramley Councillors Kevin Ritchie, Caroline Gruen and Jools Heselwood have managed to ensure that LCP will be putting our benches back!

Campaigners took to Bramley Shopping Centre to make their concerns known. Photo: Philip McConnell

Following the Breach of Condition Notice issued by Leeds City Council, LCP have agreed to restore the current benches to their original positions by 15 February, and additional benches will be purchased which will be delivered as soon as possible.

Some of the youngest members of our community have also been incredibly passionate about this issue. The School Council at Bramley St Peter’s Primary also presented me with a petition of over 300 signatures asking for our benches back. It is wonderful to see what our community can achieve when we work together. Thank you all for your hard work!

Energy prices

It is very concerning that energy prices are skyrocketing as the cost-of-living crisis continues to escalate and inflation is at its highest level in 30 years.

My office is dealing with an increasing amount of casework in this area. I will continue to do all I can to ease the burden that rising costs have created locally and nationally. Please do get in touch if I can be of any help with this or any other issues.


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