Leeds today: painting, schools, homeless families, right to buy, tolerance, naturalist, 30 under 30, museum.

Today’s BGL has been written by new writer Naziya O’Reilly.

It’s Wednesday and for those of us feeling the back to work blues, be comforted in the knowledge you’re only a few hours away from the gentle slide towards the weekend. If like me you are unlucky enough to find the world of work a step too far, then you might want to take a look at the plethora of part time leisure courses on offer from Leeds City College. Signing up commences this week with considerable concessions if you are in receipt of any benefits. The painting and drawing class at Meanwood Centre caught my eye and I’ll be starting that in a fortnight. Others who are grasping at new opportunities for learning are the eleven pupils of the smallest free school in Leeds and the unfortunate St Mary’s Catholic High school in Menston.

If you have a home and are fortunate enough to live untroubled within its walls then spare a thought for many of the city’s homeless families living in hostels facing closure. It follows the strategy changing decision by Leeds City Council to house these families in self-contained temporary accommodation with support or buffering existing homes with extra security. The news has dismayed many of its dependents who are coping with domestic violence and who count on the anonymity and protection of large, faceless buildings. The council’s housing issues are given another airing today when an amalgamation of several sources of income including Right To Buy sees whether some 325 new affordable homes could be made available in the city, including the rehabilitation of another 150 vacant ones.  In what is proving to be a busy week for the council, it has also announced the launch of its £8 million ‘families first’ scheme to help over 2000 families turn their lives around, overcoming such barriers as anti-social behaviours and joblessness. Issues of poverty also dominated this morning’s headlines with BBC radio Leeds giving a mention to local charity Hour Leeds who urge volunteers to donate an hour of their earnings to help families under the breadline fight issues arising from poverty. Have a look to see what they can do with just £7?

You know, someone once called me a coconut and after consideration I thought actually that’s okay. Two stories today made me reflect again on how I see my ethnicity in the context of this great city. Whilst I empathised with the tolerance urged by a Leeds-List writer, the news that nine members of the English Defence League were handed community sentences after attacking a Leeds pub staging an anti-racism concert, saddened me. And I have to add that despite often viewing Dewsbury life peer Baroness Warsi’s antics through narrowed eyes, her demotion from the cabinet as co-party chair, the first muslim woman in history, was a blow for both racial and gender equality.  

Paralympic fever may still be keeping us from our usual national pastime of shopping but the recession isn’t doing us any favours either which is why we need reminding of just how good our charity shops are. This handy guide showcases the best of Leeds’ city centre offerings and if you can resist jumping on the number 51 bus to grab some treasure, you’re a better woman than me.

And finally, handsome Ben Fogle is at Waterstone’s from 7pm tonight to promote his new book ‘The Accidental Naturalist’. Now, if he was an accidental naturist….

(Ed’s note: got a few more stories to put in here at the end.

That’t it for today! Thanks for reading.)

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