The Ilkley Youth and Community Association (IYCA), which runs 'The Warehouse' and the Children's Centre on Little Lane, has responded to the coronavirus pandemic by supporting families in Ilkley through the provision of some school materials. The idea behind the scheme is to reduce the risk of some parents or carers having to make a choice between providing equipment and providing healthy, nutritious food for their children.
Having contacted Ilkley primary schools and identified the need for a range of school equipment, such as craft materials, pens, and jotters, the charity has been able to work with the schools to provide equipment to over 100 primary school age children in Ilkley. Feedback from schools has suggested that the provision of this equipment has enabled some families to view home learning as far more accessible than during the first few weeks of the school closures.
Funding for this scheme has come from across the Ilkley Community, with Ilkley's three District Councillors (Kyle Green, Mike Gibbons and Anne Hawkesworth) uniting to provide £500 to the project from Bradford Council, while LS29 Special Needs Group, Friends of Ashlands Primary School, Ilkley Brewery, and Booths have also stepped up to provide funding and equipment. These efforts have been topped up by the generosity of private individuals, who have contributed over £400 to the project through a crowdfunding site. Donations are still being invited at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/ilkleyschoolequipmentfund to help provide more equipment such as reading material to help ensure that children in Ilkely are not adversely affected by the extended lockdown period, which has placed a huge burden on their well-being and learning.
Martin Smith, who is chairman of IYCA, and who has helped to lead efforts to deliver this project said: "When it became clear that schools were due to be closed for a significant period, we were determined to help children in Ilkely get through this difficult time. Having spoken to schools and found a way to help that provides a real positive outcome, we have been amazed and delighted by the response to the project, both in terms of the impact it has made as well as the community response from the companies, individuals, and District Councillors who donated to this project and helped us exceed our initial fundraising target."
Speaking of the decision to support by providing £500 to Ilkley Youth and Community Association, Ilkley's District Councillors were united in their delight to see the funding make a difference to the Ilkley community. Councillor Kyle Green said: "As a trustee of IYCA, as well as a parent to a primary school age child and a former primary school teacher, I know families who want to do their best for their children are facing huge challenges right now. Having delivered this equipment to primary schools to be distributed and listened to the feedback from school staff, I know that this project will make a huge difference to families across Ilkley."
Councillor Anne Hawkesworth said: “In these bewildering times for all, it must be doubly difficult for youngsters. We all need “something” to keep our minds active. Therefore, it is doubly pleasing to know that the contribution from District Councillors has been well received by the schools and enabled them to put together “goodiebags” of school equipment to give to their pupils."
Councillor Mike Gibbons stated: “With the government having had to close schools to stop the spread of coronavirus, families are facing months of homeschooling and costs they did not expect to incur. This project will provide support to those in need, to ensure they can help families have the right equipment to support children's learning and well-being during this time."
Speaking about the project Robbie Moore MP stated, “During this time of national crisis, which has not been experienced in many generations, it is heart-warming to see communities like this rallying together to help each other. Whilst schools are closed, and may remain closed for a number of weeks, it is important that children are still given the opportunity to learn. Schemes like this are doing exactly that and the hard working volunteers who are giving up their time should not go unrecognised.”
With no current date set for the end of the 'lockdown’ period, Ilkley Youth and Community Association is continuing to look to provide support for the children and young people of Ilkley to get through this pandemic, while also keeping an eye on delivering projects once the crisis has passed, for example by installing a 'Little Free Library'. Ilkley's District Councillors are also still looking to support projects to help the Ilkley community to get through this crisis and continue to help residents with day to day issues as well as working with groups across Ilkley to identify emerging needs.