July was a busy but fun month for the Child Friendly Leeds team as we got to go ‘out and about’ with children and young people from our foster and kinship families on three projects. If you’re looking for exciting things to do this summer or find out what we have planned, please check out our ‘Summer in Leeds‘ guide.
The British Library Project
A highlight this month was seeing one of our projects featured in the Financial Times (FT) Weekend Magazine (17 July) – the project is a partnership between The British Library, Child Friendly Leeds, our Social Care colleagues who work with unaccompanied asylum-seeking young people and Herd Farm.
The project will work with four different groups of young people – so far, we’ve worked with 6 young women from Eritrea and 5 young men from Chad. The lead practitioners are Thahmina Begum and Nicola Parker (photographer) who have led in person sessions in the beautiful renovated barn at Herd Farm.
The project is about using cooking to connect young people to their culture and the end-product will be a cookery book about their food and culture. The book will be shared with other young people arriving in Leeds from these countries and with the foster carers whom some will live with so they can feel at home in Leeds. As well as sharing their food and recipes, the groups have also been involved in art activities including decorating plates and making tablecloths and have been learning about the British Library collections. One participant said: “The best part [of the project] was eating together – it was nice to all sit around and eat together because in our culture that shows love.”
A small group of six young people were able to visit the British Library in London and were offered train tickets at a reduced rate by LNER and an open top bus tour by Golden Tours. They visited the Unfinished Business exhibition (on women’s rights), met with Polly Russell, author of The Kitchen Revolution and the FT article they featured in and she gave them each a copy of her book. They also met Eyob Derillo from the British Library and were able to look at some of the books in the Ethiopian collection that he curates. The day ended with a traditional Ethiopian meal at Addis Restaurant before they took the train back to Leeds. Here are a couple of quotations from the day:
“So many memories created yesterday. All said we will never forget this.”
“This is one of the best days of my life.”
Army Challenge Day
On Saturday 10 July, we travelled by coach from Leeds to Strensall Barracks in York with 26 young people aged 13 – 18 years old for an ‘Army Challenge Day’ hosted by the Ministry of Defence. It’s only the second time that we’ve attended this event, but we had a brilliant time and the army commented that our group was the most engaged and enthusiastic that they’d seen so far that week. Major Bob Humphries and his team were “extremely welcoming, friendly and professional.”
The young people learnt about life in the army, practised shooting at targets, completed an assault course, took part in team building challenges, found out about surveillance and also had a careers session about next steps if they wanted to become more involved with army cadets or actually enrol at a military college (Harrogate is our nearest).
Here are two comments we received:
“I really enjoyed the army day. My favourite part was the obstacle course we did. I also enjoyed getting to know more about the army and the different jobs/roles within it. I am considering the army as a possible career for myself. Thank you for an amazing day, looking forward to taking part in the next army day, if there is one.” Young person
“I visited N* the week after she had attended the Army Challenge day and she was so excited to tell me about her day. She thoroughly enjoyed it, made some new friends and was over the moon to receive a ‘Best Female’ certificate in a frame! N* told me she would love to join another army day and any other days too, as she loves socialising with others.” Social Worker
Skelton Grange Environment Centre
Our year would not feel complete without some time spent outside and close to nature and Skelton Grange Environment Centre offers this and so much more. Over the weekend of Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 July, we took 23 children aged 6 – 12 years old who live in foster and kinship families to enjoy the ‘great outdoors.’ The weather held, despite storms being forecast, and we spent two full days outside. We played games including the all-time favourite ‘Jailbreak’ – a kind of tag with water pistols, hide and seek with a twist, and a version of Kim’s Game that involved finding nature items.
We hunted for Chris’s woolly worms that had escaped, built dens, lounged in hammocks, pond dipped and enjoyed popcorn round the campfire. Skelton Grange staff, Chris and Tom were brilliant. The children said – Tom ‘was awesome’ and Chris ‘very funny’.
Here are a couple of quotes from the weekend:
“K* had a great day! As well as everything else, K* loved the newts and pond dipping. She was so busy playing that she didn’t get to go in the hammock so wants to go back again and make sure she gets a turn. The staff were all very warm, friendly and welcoming and K* was buzzing about the day all the way home and was still talking about the newts this morning and wanting to make a hammock in the garden. Full marks 5/5. Thank you for a lovely day and a great start to the holiday.” Foster Carer
D* really enjoyed his day and was impressed at Chris’ popcorn making skills especially since it took him 3 years at college to learn how to do it. 😂 I believe from his Nan he can find situations like the activity day challenging but he came back to us buzzing. He did enjoy his day lots. D* loved the fact he was good at Jailbreak (he has a low opinion of himself most of the time) and had, had a terrible week, so thank you very much.” Foster Carer who supports Kinship Carers
If you’d like to find out more about the projects we work on for children and young people you work with or if you are a Child Friendly Leeds ambassador and would like to work in partnership with us on initiatives like this, please do get in touch. Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org