The Compassionate City Awards in Leeds celebrate individuals and organizations that selflessly contribute to the welfare of the city, recognizing their dedication to enhancing the lives of residents and strengthening community bonds. Among the winners, Yvonne Opebiyi of Guiding Light Leads stood out for her work in addressing the needs of young people in the African Caribbean community, while the DAMASQ project trained refugees and minority community members to become beekeepers, fostering well-being and integration.
What is the purpose of the Compassionate City Awards in Leeds?
The Compassionate City Awards in Leeds recognize individuals and organizations for their selfless contributions to the city’s welfare, celebrating community spirit and support. These awards honor local heroes who exemplify dedication to enhancing the lives of Leeds residents and strengthening community bonds.
Celebrating Compassionate Contributions
Leeds continues to be a beacon of community spirit and support through the endeavors of its local heroes. The Compassionate City Awards, a prestigious annual event, honors these individuals and organizations for their selfless contributions to the city’s welfare. The ceremony, held at Leeds Civic Hall on Thursday, 7 December, shone a spotlight on those who go above and beyond to serve their communities.
The overarching aim of these awards is to acknowledge the remarkable and compassionate work being done every day within Leeds. Such efforts bolster the city’s standing, align with the council’s aspiration for Leeds to be the UK’s preeminent city, and most importantly, enhance the lives of its residents. Councillor Mary Harland, the city council’s executive member for communities, articulated the essence of the awards, “We love presenting these awards every year to celebrate the outstanding work people around our city are doing every day in their communities or for the wider city. Team Leeds is all about supporting one another to make Leeds the best it can be and that is exactly what these people are championing.”
Guiding Light Leads Pioneers Change
Among the night’s honorees, Yvonne Opebiyi of Guiding Light Leads stood out for her exemplary work within the African Caribbean community. Her project, which garnered the Jo Cox Award, has been instrumental in addressing the needs and improving the prospects of young people. Opebiyi’s initiative has organized workshops with key figures from various sectors, including universities, housing, health, police, and the council to explore and dismantle barriers to equality.
The project’s impact is multifaceted. Not only does it engage with community leaders to forge pathways for young people, but it also has secured crucial funding from the Police Crime Commissioner. This funding is a stepping stone in offering support and bolstering the confidence of the youth to seize opportunities such as higher education. Opebiyi’s achievement reflects the broader goals of the Compassionate City Awards: uplifting individuals and communities by recognizing and supporting their efforts to create positive change.
Environmental and Community Stewardship
The awards also highlighted the exceptional Environmental Achievement of the Year, the DAMASQ project, which marries ecological stewardship with community support. DAMASQ trains refugees, asylum seekers, and members of minority communities to become beekeepers, an activity known to foster health and well-being by alleviating stress and anxiety. This initiative is not just about producing over 150kg of organic honey; it’s about nurturing skills, confidence, and integration into the community. The success of DAMASQ is now setting a precedent, with similar projects budding across the UK.
Additionally, Hala Wadi received the Unsung Hero of the Year award for her dedicated service to women in Leeds seeking asylum or refugee status. Wadi’s group offers a sanctuary where these women find camaraderie and support to help integrate into the community. Her role extends beyond group facilitation; she is an adept interpreter and is acquiring the skills to offer basic immigration advice through her voluntary training with the Citizens Advice Bureau.
Honour Roll of Community Heroes
The Compassionate City Awards recognized a gamut of endeavors, each contributing uniquely to the fabric of Leeds. Here’s a nod to all the winners that evening:
- Unsung Sporting Hero of the Year: Màire Pogson
- Unsung Hero of the Year: Hala Wadi
- Diversity Project of the Year: Leeds City of Sanctuary
- Health and Wellbeing Project of the Year: Rainbow Hearts and Feel Good
- Community Sports Project of the Year: Champions Community Sport and Health CIC
- 2023 Year of Culture Project: Leeds Hospital Charity for the Leeds Bear Hunt
- Community Organisation or Project of the Year: Leeds Warm Spaces
- Environmental Achievement of the Year: DAMASQ
- Jo Cox Award: Guiding Light Leads – Yvonne Opebiyi
Councillor Mary Harland encapsulated the spirit of the awards and the ethos of Leeds, asserting, “There are so many incredible unsung heroes and it is vital that they get the recognition they deserve for making Leeds a better place for everyone. Congratulations to all the winners and highly commended!” The awards thus serve not just as a token of gratitude but as a catalyst for ongoing community service and engagement.
- The Compassionate City Awards in Leeds celebrate individuals and organizations that selflessly contribute to the welfare of the city.
- Yvonne Opebiyi of Guiding Light Leads was recognized for her work in addressing the needs of young people in the African Caribbean community.
- The DAMASQ project trains refugees and minority community members to become beekeepers, fostering well-being and integration.
- Hala Wadi received the Unsung Hero of the Year award for her dedicated service to women in Leeds seeking asylum or refugee status.
- The awards aim to acknowledge compassionate work, enhance the lives of residents, and strengthen community bonds in Leeds.