Charity report focuses on post-pandemic recovery of inner-city east Leeds

Charity chiefs have published a report setting out a post-pandemic recovery action plan for inner-city east Leeds.

Wednesday, 28th July 2021, 4:45 am
Young adults and children pictured playing street cricket in April 2021 in a back alley Hovingham Avenue, Harehills, Leeds. Picture Tony Johnson

The report, called ‘Covid Prevent: Living in Gipton and Harehills during the pandemic and beyond’ is based on the responses of over 80 residents living in the area who quizzed on how they had been affected by Covid-19 and what changes they would like to see in their area over the next five years.

The report was led by arts and social change organisation Space2, working in partnership with local charities Zest, Healthwatch Leeds Shantona Women’s Centre, People in Action and Gipton Old Fire Station.

The aim was to find out people’s hopes and fears as the city emerges from lockdown, positives and negatives of the pandemic, their thoughts on the vaccine and ways to improve the area.

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The resulting framework sets out a recovery plan for the next five years and includes calls for more green corridors, community centres, activities for younger people and to make it easier to dispose of waste.

Emma Tregidden, joint CEO of Space2, said: “The impact of COVID-19 on mental health has been massive and this report looks at the concerns of our local communities and what needs to be done to improve health and wellbeing.

“We want to say a huge thank you to the people of Gipton and Harehills for taking the time to give us their feedback, and for sharing their views, ideas and thoughts with us. We could not have completed the report and the films without them.

“I also want to thank and acknowledge the many volunteers who worked with us on this project. They have helped to ensure that everyone’s voices are heard.”

Charity representatives used a range of techniques to gather people’s experiences, from phone calls to flyers, door-knocking, activities and face-to-face interviews.

Other key themes highlighted in the report include less crime and anti-social behaviour, more activities to bring people together and better public transport.

Most residents reported a mix of positives and negatives from lockdown with one key issue being the isolation from loved ones and lack of activities.

The reduction in traffic during lockdown was appreciated but one resident said: “I’d like to see a real concerted effort to improve our Harehills environment and cut through traffic.

“This would reduce pollution, smog and noise plus be safer. There are no good cycling routes into town, the streets have no trees or greenery in general.”

Residents also called for Fearnville Sports Centre to be reopened and refurbished and for the provision of more community spaces where people could meet, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or faith.

Hannah Davies, CEO of Healthwatch Leeds said: “This is a great initiative for Gipton and Harehills and Healthwatch Leeds were excited to be part of this collaborative work.

“Making sure that people with experiences of the greatest inequalities have the opportunity to have their voice heard is paramount to our work.

“We will be following this work to see how things improve for the people of Gipton and Harehills over the next five years.”

The Covid Prevent report will be circulated to Leeds City Councillors, public health officials, and is available on the Healthwatch website at https://healthwatchleeds.co.uk/.

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