More than 500 underprivileged children will have the chance to take a break from child poverty in east Leeds and head to the countryside to engage in outdoor activities, including growing their own food, and improving their communication and life skills, thanks to a grant of £15,000 from Yorkshire West Riding Freemasons to the Learning Partnerships charity.
The grant will fund Learning Partnerships' Roots & Shoots Project, which provides resources such as tools, compost, plants and seeds to children from the deprived areas of east Leeds. It will enable the charity to continue delivering seven weekly outdoor learning sessions in five local schools, where children will learn where their food comes from and how to grow their own. The sessions are designed around the curriculum for science, maths and English; and encourages social and communication skills.
East Leeds is one of the most deprived communities in England. They will be supporting children who live in one of the most deprived areas of the country, including many in the lowest 0.1 per cent. Most children live in back-to-back terraces or high-rise flats with little or no outdoor space. They have little opportunity to engage with the soil, be active outside or connect with nature. This is compounded by neglected public spaces which are often subject to anti-social behaviour, vandalism and crime which further deters children's outdoor play. The grant will also support the holiday activities programme to raise children's aspirations by organising trips where they can play and learn in a safe green space, stay active and eat healthily.
Learning Partnerships is a Leeds based charity with more than 30 years' experience of working across inner-city communities to reduce inequality, exclusion and disadvantage. During this time, they have been providing opportunities and support for children, young people and adults to access education, employment, training and volunteering through a range of programmes and training courses designed to 'engage, inspire and achieve'. They have an enviable record of delivering highly successful programmes which improve the life chances of those at the margins of society by increasing their confidence, self-esteem, aspirations, well-being and employability skills, supporting them to integrate into their community.
The grant from Yorkshire West Riding Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.
Susan Docherty, Learning Partnership's Project Leader for Roots & Shoots said:
We’re very grateful to Yorkshire Freemasons for their generous grant which will ensure we’ll be able to continue our work for another year. Seeing the children have so much fun while learning to grow their own food – and eat it! – is a huge privilege and so important for their healthier future.
James H Newman OBE, the Head of the Freemasons in Yorkshire West Riding, said:
I am immensely proud that Freemasonry has been able to support the incredible work that is being undertaken by Learning Partnerships in east Leeds.
As Freemasons we are committed to supporting the communities in which we live and Lodges from all over Yorkshire are regular contributors to the Masonic Charitable Foundation. Having heard what Learning Partnerships are delivering in east Leeds, it is marvellous that these children will have the opportunity to learn more about the food they eat and how important it is to preserve the environment.