YEP Says, March 7: Hard work needed to turn young lives around in Leeds

Too many children in Leeds face bleak prospects

Too many children in Leeds face bleak prospects

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Shocking statistics underline scale of city’s challenge.

TODAY’S shocking YEP report on the experiences of youngsters growing up in Leeds underlines why we’re campaigning to make it a more child-friendly city.

It’s a report that makes for difficult reading. Nearly a quarter of under-16s in Leeds live in poverty, while the same proportion of teenage girls suffer violence at the hands of a partner.

There’s more. One in three children will suffer from mental health issues at some point, while a third of youngsters have been bullied at school in the last year.

Leeds is a great city with much to be proud of, but too many children are facing early hardship and a bleak future – the number of 16 to 18-year-olds not in education, employment or training, for instance, is well above the national average.

Such a grim picture shows why Leeds City Council was absolutely right to make it a priority to tackle the inequalities confronting so many of the city’s youngsters – and why the YEP is backing it all the way.

But if local councils are to deliver genuine change they need the cash to do it. That’s why the Government’s spending review which cut budgets for northern, urban cities with high levels of deprivation by almost ten times the amount taken from mostly Tory-run councils in the south was so unjust.

That imbalance must now be addressed, with more power being devolved from Westminster so cities like Leeds have a greater say over where money is spent.

Food festival will have certain je ne sais quoi

THIS year the city’s annual celebration of food and drink will come with a distinctly gallic twist.

Staged just a month before the Tour de France rolls into the city, the Leeds Food and Drink Festival will see fine fare from across the Channel served up in the special Le Grand DeParty section.

Artisan breads, wines and cheeses as well as French cooking from the likes of Leeds’s own Brasserie Blanc will all be on the menu at the what is one of the country’s most popular food festivals.

If the Grand Depart is the main course then this looks set to be the perfect starter to whet the appetite for the excitement to come.

PIC: Bruce Rollinson

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