Programme manager: Judith Shalkowski
The LEAP programme is committed to enabling disadvantaged children and young people, alongside professionals, to challenge the ignorance and overcome the barriers that stop them reaching their full potential.
We offer a range of services across Leeds to disabled and refugee children and young people, as well as disability workforce training to professionals.
Please read our latest annual report.
Our goals and beliefs
At LEAP, we aim to:
- Explore effective ways of meeting young people’s needs through engaging with them and listening
- Provide proactive services that are young-people friendly, supportive and based on the empowerment of young people
- Provide advocacy for children and young people in relation to their individual and identified needs
- Support the participation of children and young people through all our services to benefit their lives directly and improve public attitude
We believe that successful community cohesion stems from a holistic, child-centred approach. Our new arrivals work is informed by our knowledge of migration issues and its impact on children, in terms of their ability to integrate into communities and achieve in education. We have developed expertise when it comes to the challenges faced by disabled children and young people and their families, and have put more effective systems in place to monitor the services we provide.
All children, indigenous and migrant children, benefit from inclusive activities that serve to promote community cohesion. By developing a better understanding of migration issues, cultural understanding and diversity in school settings, communities can better manage the pressures resulting from increased migration.
We channel our energies into developing high-impact services based on a good understanding of local needs and in partnership with local agencies.
Our work is based locally, taking into account the individual needs and situations within communities. With an understanding of the Leeds community’s situation, we co-develop an individualised, child-centred, culturally sensitive and participation-based menu of services in partnership with the local authority and other funding providers.
We offer the following services:
- Aiming high for young people befriending services - for disabled young people
- HEARTS service - for refugee and asylum-seeking children and young people, and professionals who work with these young people
- Connexions personal advisor service - for refugee and asylum-seeking young people aged 16-18
The disability team supports disabled young people aged 11-18 matched with volunteer befrienders. Befrienders are recruited, trained and supported to have an active role in delivering the service. Young people access activities and a short break is provided to families. As a result, young people can improve and expand on their communication abilities through the formation of new friendships/relationships and participation in mainstream sports, leisure/recreational and social activities. Young people are empowered to develop their independent living skills resulting in long term outcomes for them.
In the last year we delivered the befriending service to 36 young people and engaged over 50 volunteers to support 1-1 befriending, group activities and office based tasks.
Three staff and 10 volunteers provide support to refugee and asylum-seeking children and young people in the Leeds area. This includes young people living or learning in Chapeltown, Bermantofts, Richmond Hill, Beeston, Holbeck and Harehills.
The HEARTS service supports three areas:
- Advocacy: A senior worker oversees the work and delivers advocacy support on the asylum process to those who are based in families. Examples of advocacy include help in accessing legal representation, accessing education, accessing appropriate housing, accessing health services, accessing extra-curricular activities.
- Education: A schools project worker works in partnership with local schools and delivers school based programmes for children and young people, providing: group work activities, individual support, and training to staff around the needs of refugees and asylum seeking children. Two primary and two secondary school programmes per year are delivered to city centre areas to improve achievement, integration and inclusion of young people. Programmes are available for language support, welcome materials, clubs, classroom sessions, assemblies and buddy schemes.
- Skills: A life skills coordinator coordinates group-based activities with a multi-agency approach to unaccompanied minors aged 14-19, beginning with taster sessions into weekly programmes delivered to 40 young people annually. Programmes cover budgeting, cooking, keeping safe, IT skills, UK culture, orientation, sexual health, to provide knowledge and skills for young people new to the country.
One part-time staff member supports refugee and asylum-seeking young people aged 16-18 who want to get into education, employment and training.
Our personal advisor service is community based and works city wide, offering: one-to-one work, group work, advice, guidance and signposting to access services. The advisor listens to the needs, wants and issues of young refugees. The Connexions personal advisor service uses interpreters where required.
The study looks at the experiences of communication between refugee and asylum seeking parents and high school staff in Leeds to highlight areas of good practice and also identify learning points to inform and strengthen future practices.
The study was carried out over a three month period, involving 16 parents/carers and 20 school staff members linked to 14 schools in Leeds.
The data was gathered using qualitative face-to-face interviews with parents (using professionally trained face to face interpreters where appropriate), and semi-structured questionnaires to school staff.
The report looks at five key areas:
- information on the education system made available to parents on their arrival in the UK
- experiences of school induction from both parents and school staff
- experiences of communication
- involving parents
- understanding the specific needs of asylum seekers and refugees
The report highlights ten practical recommendations to improve and strengthen practice in the future, including suggestions around information provision for parents, support, the induction process, inclusion, engagement and training for school staff.
Please read Include us:
- In support of West Yorkshire Playhouse's new production of Refugee Boy, young people in Leeds have shared their stories with us and produced this educational resource pack.
- Our LEAP programme was recently our featured programme.
- Last year LEAP led a local Make Runaways Safe campaign event working in partnership with Leeds City Council and Leeds Safeguarding Children’s Board. We have been invited to be involved in a local campaign to raise awareness on missing/runaway children in Leeds.
- We have increased our numbers of student placements, resulting in finalising a DVD to be used for training professionals.
- The LEAP programme engaged more than 70 volunteers in 2012, resulting in positive outcomes for young people across Leeds.