Why Leeds' sense of community spirit will hold strong during Covid crisis - Laura Collins, YEP Editor

Home really is where the heart is.

Monday, 16th November 2020, 6:00 am
Georgie Spedding pictured at HOPE.

Many of us feel a deep rooted sense of pride in the places we grew up and where we live now.

I will always remember the first time I came to the bright lights of Leeds as a student.

The bustling city was a far cry away from the small fishing town of Grimsby where I had spent the first 18 years of my life.

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Residents witnessed disorder and attacks on police vehicles with bricks and fireworks.

I’m incredibly proud of my roots. I was the first person in my family to go to university and I’m thankful that my parents were always there as my biggest cheerleaders.

Yet the first question I used to get asked from fellow students when I told them where I was from was: “Is it grim in Grimsby?”

If I had a pound for every single time someone said that to me over the years I could probably have paid my student loan off straight away - I wouldn’t even needed to have worried about jugging part-time jobs and studying.

Why would the place I grew up in with my family where I have so many treasured memories be grim? It comes in the same week that debate has raged in Westminster over the perceptions of what it means to be Northern.

Apparently those of us living in the north are more interested in football than ballet or opera. I suppose it would be unthinkable to imagine that we might actually like all three.

But rooted at the heart of these assumptions are stereotypes that people build up in their mind from the off. More often than not it is easy to fall into the narrative of a negative stereotype and judgement.

Take the hard-working community of Halton Moor as an example. For two nights in a row residents were subjected to anti-social behaviour which saw fireworks shoved through letterboxes while police and fire crews came under attack.

In the days that followed community leaders, businesses and residents were quick to condemn the actions of a small minority and how the reputation of Halton Moor had been dragged through the mud.

The Yorkshire Evening Post spoke to residents and they have told us about the immense sense of pride they feel in their community - and that is why we have chosen to dedicate our front page to that determined spirit.

And that is down to the hard work of those who reach out to others - those grassroots organisations who are making a difference. Take the Halton Moor and Osmondthorpe Project for Elders as an example.

The charity has more than 600 members as part of its network which has in turn became a lifeline to older and isolated residents over the last year.

Manager Georgie Spedding speaks of the pride in which neighbours have come together to look out for elderly service users.

Meanwhile Rev Hannah Smith, of St Wilfrid’s Church says when she thinks of Halton Moor, the word that comes to mind is generosity and how the community has looked out for each other throughout the pandemic.

And it is that sense of community spirit that will continue to knit Leeds together as we join together during this time of crisis.

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