Victoria Gate bosses serve up support for Leeds community groups

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The opening of the new Victoria Gate retail scheme in Leeds may still be some months away but it is already making a positive difference to life in the city.

Nine charities and good causes have been awarded grants totalling nearly £17,000 by Victoria Gate developer Hammerson in partnership with the Leeds Community Foundation.

Hammerson’s Victoria Gate Fund was launched earlier this year to offer support to local organisations working in arts and culture as well as projects providing employment opportunities or helping enterprise and skills development.

Its newly-announced recipients are Chapeltown Arts Festival, Holbeck Elderly Aid, New Wortley Community Association, Purple Patch Arts, TCV Hollybush Conservation Centre, Tea and Tolerance, The Zone, West Yorkshire Playhouse and Yorkshire More.

And representatives of the groups were all smiles as they came together at the headquarters of Northern Ballet in Leeds to hear confirmation of the awards.

Hammerson community manager Jon Brookes said: “The Victoria Gate Fund demonstrates our commitment to the Leeds community and enables us to reach many Leeds-based organisations and help them achieve their goals in helping local people.”

The successful initiatives include:

* New Wortley Community Association’s plans to establish a business forum that will encourage enterprise in the area;

* The purchase of specialist equipment by Purple Patch Arts that will enable people with learning disabilities to tackle a music project.

* A West Yorkshire Playhouse programme of “creative engagement activity” supporting performances of Kes in local community settings.

Leeds Community Foundation chief executive Sally-Anne Greenfield said: “It’s fantastic to work with Hammerson and the Victoria Gate Fund.

“The programme provides vital support to organisations that are at the heart of Leeds.

“Sometimes these organisations need only a small amount of financial support to help them achieve their goals and the Victoria Gate Fund is designed to do just that.”

Due to open in October, Victoria Gate will house one of the largest John Lewis stores outside of London.