Young ambassadors to provide food parcels to those in need on Leeds estate
The inspiring idea to help those in need on the Sutton Park estate came from a group of young people on the Community Ambassadors Programme.
The scheme, which celebrates social action, is run by the Youth Association for the community arm of Clarion Housing Group.
On Friday, youth ambassadors from Clarion Futures Communities will distribute 30 food parcels donated by food charity FairShare. They will contain a wide range of food from pasta and flour to tinned goods.
Emily Jones, a lead youth worker at the Youth Association, said: “I’ve been working with the young people on this project since August. Through lockdown they have been doing a lot of work online. They recognised the need in the area to feed these families, and they want to bring the community together. They’ve been working really hard on it.”
She added: “It’s nice to see because I think young people don’t get appreciated enough and sometimes they are misunderstood. Something like this just shows that they want to do something good for their community.”
The parcels, which will be distributed from the community centre at Sutton Park in a socially-distanced way, also contain messages of hope and solidarity from young people.
Emily said the core team had written messages like “Your community is there for you” and “Stay strong - we are all in this together”.
She added: “They have also made a video for it as well. It says, ‘One thing you can do is to reach out to friends, family and the local community’. It’s like a TikTok video, a quick video, which says we are all feeling lonely at the moment, so reach out.”
The messages tie in with activities they have been doing during the pandemic, like sending out mental health tips to help people keep going through lockdown. Emily added: “It was six things you could do during lockdown. Each week we would do a different one. Last Monday we did a baking session. What we baked will be stuff that we are going to put into the food parcels. They’ve done a video of how you can make these things.”
Friday’s event is very much a pilot project, which they hope to continue in the future.
The ambassadors project is something, which Jess Duggal, neighbourhood investment officer (North) for Clarion Futures Communities, is extremely pleased with.
He said: “It’s fantastic really and we are extremely proud that the young people, the ambassadors, are thinking of others at this difficult time. They have done it before, like holiday hunger programmes in the past with the Youth Association, again working with FareShare. They put on community events where they were giving out parcels when it was OK for people to get together. It’s fantastic that they want to do something like that in the community.”
He added: “The main point of the Community Ambassadors Programme is that a social action project will come from something the young people want to do. They come to us with all the ideas and we just try to make it happen for them.”
Clarion’s neighbourhood housing officers and tenancy sustainment officers have helped identify those in need of a food parcel. Residents will then be given a slot on Friday to come and collect them.
The food hamper project is just one example of the public-spirited work done by Clarion Futures Communities.
It is the charitable arm of Clarion Housing Group, the largest social landlord in the country. It has properties in Sutton Park and Killingbeck.
Its Community Ambassador Programme’s (CAP) receives match funding from the #iwill fund, a joint initiative by the Department from Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and The National Lottery Community Fund.
Jess Duggal, neighbourhood investment officer (North) for Clarion Futures Communities, said: “They (the #iwill fund) have helped with quite a lot of our Community Ambassador Programmes across the country. The way it has worked is we have provided quite a lot of funding and they also matched that funding so we can run the ambassador programme across quite a lot of our estates.
“The CAP is pretty much driven by the young people and which projects they want to deliver. They have delivered projects such as other food hamper projects, community estate fun days, clear ups and inter-generational type projects.”
During the first lockdown, The Youth Association, which Clarion works with, also did a lot of online activities with young people. It helped keep them engaged and also assisted with their wellbeing. This was funded by Clarion’s Emergency Support Fund.