Leys News is a FREE community newspaper delivered monthly to over 5000 homes in Blackbird Leys and Greater Leys.


This issue includes:
  • BLAP latest
  • Goats for Ethiopia
  • Anti-social behaviour survey
  • Youth unemployment
  • Young artists at Leys CDI


New adult literacy scheme for Blackbird Leys

26 March

BEING able to read is something most of us take for granted. We think nothing of reading signposts when we’re driving, labels in the supermarket, or the TV guide when we’re relaxing in the evening. It’s easy to forget that some of us aren’t so lucky. One in 20 adults have the reading level expected of a five-year-old. They may be adept at hiding it, but low levels of literacy can make everyday tasks a struggle.

Read Easy aims to change people’s lives by helping them learn to read. It’s a charitable organisation that offers free, local, one-to-one coaching to adults who want to improve their reading.

The first Read Easy group was set up in Dorset in 2010 and since then it has been steadily expanding into other parts of the country. A new Read Easy group has just been started in Blackbird Leys and is actively seeking people who want to get involved.

Adults who wish to improve their literacy with Read Easy are matched to volunteers by a coordinator. The coaching is confidential and there are no classes with other readers. Instead, new readers meet up with their reading coaches one-to-one at approved local venues. They can learn at their own pace, using a phonics-based reading manual that has been designed specifically for adult learners. If you or someone you know could benefit from this service, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Volunteering with Read Easy is a rewarding experience for anyone who wants to make a difference to the lives of others and has some time to spare. Read Easy Blackbird Leys is now established with a full management committee, but is seeking someone with strong people and organisational skills to take on the crucial and very rewarding volunteer role of the Coordinator.

The group is also looking for volunteers to become reading coaches, as well as for people wanting to learn to read.

If you would like to become part of this exciting new venture in any way, please contact Angie Dormon at blackbirdleys@readeasy.org.uk

For further information about Read Easy, please visit the Read Easy website: www.readeasy.org.uk

Funding fears for Pathway

02 February

THE Pathway Workshop needs a cash injection to keep it open, and is calling on local people, charities and businesses to help raise the money.

Established in 1982, the workshop is a social enterprise that makes use of waste wood. It was set up to provide meaningful and productive job opportunities for local people with disabilities or other obstacles that had prevented them from working. The workshop produces a wide range of products from firewood kindling to furniture, wooden packing crates, wildlife boxes and a range of creative and decorative products such as wooden games, Christmas decorations and boxes and ornaments.

All the products are made to very high standards under of the watchful eye of experienced cabinet maker and Chair of the Trustees Bill Pattison.

Bill said this week that without the £40,000 needed to pay existing debts and cover business overheads, the workshop could be in danger of closing. "We had to lay four people off in December in order to save money on our wages bill but they have returned to help us on a voluntary basis which is fantastic. The people who work here with us really enjoy it and want to be here. They are from all walks of life and face difficulties in their lives that make it very hard for them to get jobs. We give them the chance to learn woodworking skills and it has a big impact on their confidence and self esteem. We are like a family here and it was really hard having to let people go."

The cash strapped enterprise started facing problems when a large order for wooden packaging crates was cancelled. The team are now working hard to find a replacement for this contract, as well as working flat out to produce hundreds of bags of kindling each week-which is the other major part of their business.

Mike Fleming, General Manager of Pathway added: "We need to replace the contract that was cancelled and sell more kindling. The amount of charitable funding available has shrunk and we simply don't have the time to market the other products we make here such as the decorative objects and furniture."

Bill added: "When people start working with us they can't even knock a nail in straight but after a while they become more confident and can make anything from wood – and make it really well to a very high standard. We are helping people overcome problems and become employable but we need funds to continue this work. There used to be help from central government for organisations like ours that offered phased employment opportunities but not any more. We are actively helping with employability and if we stopped functioning it would cost the government to provide benefits. The confidence and faith that our men have in themselves can be fragile, but we have huge successes here."

Mike added that he has been contacting key funding bodies to ask for support, and the workshop did receive a small injection of cash before Christmas but needs more. He said: "We need funding for the men who work here – not for our wages and we do have a strategic recovery plan for re-building the project and to give us some headroom. We want to keep the workshop open and establish a regular stream of funding, as well as some regular contracts and projects that we can rely on."

The Pathway Workshop is in Dunnock Way, Blackbird Leys and is open from Monday to Thursday from 8am–3.30pm and on Fridays from 8am–12noon. The workshop sells bags of kindling, bird tables and feeders, wooden planters, compost boxes, furniture and a range of gifts and decorative objects. Commissions for bespoke work are also undertaken.

It’s time to GO Active, Get Healthy for 2015!

18 December

Do you need a little push to get back into exercise after the excess of Christmas? If so, GO Active, Get Healthy could be just right for you.

GO Active, Get Healthy is a brand new free to join programme available across Oxfordshire, designed to support people to become more physically active by connecting them with a range of activities and opportunities and will provide motivational support to help get people started and keep them on track.

If you're not currently doing any physical activity then this programme is perfect for you. You’ll be offered lots of additional support including motivational coaching on the telephone, subsidised activities and on-going support to help you make a change.

As part of GO Active, Get Healthy participants will receive between one and three Motivational Coaching sessions, all done over the phone at a convenient time, up to £100 of activity vouchers that can be used at local leisurse centre to try out a class, go for a swim or try the gym, and a further £60 of incentive vouchers for keeping in touch with the programme part of the long term support package.

There is also Information on ways to get active across Oxfordshire, with opportunities for people to let the team know what activity they would like to have available

Haven’t done anything for a while? Short on time? Need to relax? Not sure what activity to do?

If these questions sound familiar, then get in touch with the GO Active, Get Healthy Team and take your first step to becoming more active.

Go to GO Active website
ring 01865 252606
or email goactive@oxfordshiresport.org

The People's Assembly

18 December

AN organisation that aims to help people fighting for benefits and support public services is calling for new members. The Oxford People's Assembly is not linked to any political party and its aims are to support and encourage all those who would act to protect public services.

Carol Stavris from the OPA said: “The banking crisis of 2008 impacted disastrously on vast numbers of working-class people as austerity policies cut social and welfare spending. People have seen their wages held down for years, their benefits cut and their standard of living rapidly declining. Oxford housing costs are high but, generally, wages are not, so many struggle to pay their rent or mortgage, putting their home at risk. The 'Bedroom Tax' forces those least able to pay into making distressing choices. Those with a disability have had to face gruelling tests to prove they qualify for their allowances.”

It is against this background that the People's Assembly was formed, with major Trade Union support, as part of a national movement linking together local campaigns and groups into a broad network which could respond to attempts to reduce or remove community and welfare services.

The Oxford People's Assembly is supported by Oxford and District Trades Union Council, pensioner groups, student, women's and community organisations. Meetings are held regularly in venues around Oxford, including East Oxford.

If you would like to know more or become involved contact: oxfordpeoplesassembly@gmail.com or telephone 07896 687454 (Dan).


Making the Leys Greener!

03 June

WITH at least three parks and many smaller green spaces, the Leys is an excellent playground for people and wildlife alike. Oxford City Council’s Parks and Open Spaces department manages the area through grass cutting, and litter picking, but there are many more exciting opportunities to make these local green spaces into wonderful wildlife habitats and extraordinary areas for us to enjoy.

The Conservation Volunteers are looking for people interested in making this happen. Monique van Assouw, Community Project Officer of The Conservation Volunteers, said: “Many great activities have already taken place to improve our local green spaces; 250 trees were planted in Fry’s Hill Park, the Northfield Brook was cleared of rubbish and more than 15 bags of litter were taken out of the ditches in Little Bury.

“The volunteers that came along to these activities have been fantastic. They have also come up with more ideas for activities in areas that are close to their heart! And that is what the Friends of Blackbird and Greater Leys Parks group is all about—empowering local people to transform their outdoor spaces.”
The Group receives financial support from the People’s Health Trust. It also works closely with Oxford City Council and Groundwork South. Rob Tilley, from Groundwork South, said: “It is a great opportunity for us to pull resources together to positively change the environment of the Leys and improve people’s lives.”

The Group’s programme includes a wide variety of activities, ranging from cutting back overgrowing vegetation, clearing rubbish from ditches, planting bulbs and trees to building a pond dipping platform and wildlife habitats.

No previous experience is needed to volunteer with us. All you need is enthusiasm and organisers will guide you through the activities. Activities take place every Wednesday and every first Sunday of the month. They start at 10.30am and last until 1pm.

Monique added: “Volunteering with us is a great way to improve your local area, stay active and meet new people! If you are interested in joining us, please email blackbird-leys@tcv.org.uk to receive the newsletter containing dates, locations and more. Information can also be found at www.tcv.org.uk and www.facebook.com/blackbirdleys2014. We look forward to welcoming you to the team!”

Over 50s Advice at the Clockhouse

08 May

FREE monthly, confidential advice on benefits, debt, housing and consumer issues. Sessions are held at the Clockhouse, Long Ground, Greater Leys, Oxford OX4 7FX, with a worker from the Agnes Smith Advice Centre.

Sessions are usually the last Monday of the month. To book an appointment, please tel: 395908.

Next dates: Monday 19 May (please note it's a week early, to avoid the bank holiday) and Monday 30 June, both 10am-12.30pm. (12-12.30pm is 'drop-in' - no appointment needed for this slot.)

Coffee, cake and company at the Community Centre

29 April

EVERY Wednesday from 10.30am–1pm a group of Leys residents has been meeting at the Jack Argent room for tea, coffee and company-and cake of course!

At the moment it is a small group, but organisers are keen to encourage other residents from across the Leys to drop in.

There is a voluntary contribution on arrival to cover the cost of provisions for as many drinks as people like and to stay as long as they like. The group has received really positive feedback from those attending and from their families as it gives people who don’t often get the chance to socialise an opportunity to do so.

Diary Dates

28 Apr, 2015

Blackbird Leys Parish Council meeting. 7pm, in the Jack Argent Room, BBL Community Centre. Tel: 07754 271831
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