Festival brings three days of fabulously flamboyant family fun

Bradford’s biggest and brightest festival returns to City Park in late July (28-30) bringing a colourful and multicultural programme of arts, activities and entertainment.

This year’s Bradford Festival draws on Britain’s rich cultural talent and features award-winning and highly acclaimed street theatre, music and dance.

Celebrated women’s street theatre company, Circo Rum Ba Ba, brings The Crow House, a silent movie-inspired show using acrobatics, silks trapeze artistry, hat juggling, puppetry and slap-stick comedy.

One of Cardiff’s most exciting, original and eclectic companies, Kitsch & Sync Collective will stage Bedraggled where a trio of bold and brash mermaids shock and entertain onlookers with their feisty and fishy antics.

Audiences will be able to catch a glimpse of a possible future where air pollution hits crisis point in Urban Astronaut by innovative British street theatre company, Highy Sprung.

Internationally acclaimed theatre company, Mind the Gap have worked with cutting-edge Liverpool theatre company The Kazimier to stage Mirror Mirror, a thought-provoking piece about the experiences of people who are considered ‘different’ in today’s society.

Award-winning local interactive performance company, Same Difference, will bring their ‘walkabout, much-talked-about, splendorous, spectacular, scientific discovery machine’ in Sense-O-Matic which explores how we use our senses to discover our environment.

Anyone wishing to sample different types of music will be able to indulge in a rich and varied programme stretching from rock, ska, pop and folk to contemporary fusion, opera and Chinese classical music.

Continue reading Festival brings three days of fabulously flamboyant family fun

Young riders in City Park for the start of stage 3 of the 2017 Tour de Yorkshire

Chief Executive’s blog – June 2017

It’s been too long since I reflected on our work. It has been an extraordinarily busy period. I have kept up with covering my daily activity on Twitter. But I have missed this wider opportunity to communicate with you all.

With the awful events in Manchester at the forefront of my mind I want to thank all our staff. Whether you worked with schools to provide support for young people, spent time in communities and with younger residents listening and reassuring, were deployed as a special as part of the intensified policing, attended the many multi faith and cross community vigils, or got on with the day job whilst the threat level was ‘critical’, you played a part in keeping our communities close, safe and united.

Bradford remembrance after Manchester bombing
Bradford remembrance after Manchester bombing

I want to pay tribute to our health colleagues at Bradford Royal Infirmary who tended to a significant number of wounded Bradfordians arriving at A&E through the night of the bombing, and to police colleagues many of whom have worked twelve-hour six-day shifts over the last week. We hold the 22 who died, the many grieving, wounded and distressed, and the city of Manchester in our thoughts. We stand together.

General Election on Thursday, 8 June

The events in Manchester suspended campaigning in the General Election. But the election date remains Thursday, 8 June. There has been no let-up in the hard backroom work getting everything ready for polling day. The elections team and I normally have six months to prepare for such a significant event. This time we have had six weeks. The elections team have been flat out. Some have had to cancel long planned holidays. They are a small, dedicated and great team.

Elections staff
Elections staff preparing ballot boxes for the general election

Of course their numbers swell to over a thousand for polling day and the count itself.
If you are taking part this year – getting up ridiculously early to set up and open the polling station for 7 am sharp or having a sleepless night to work at the count – thank you.

I know you will take very seriously our responsibility to ensure everyone who is entitled to has the opportunity to vote, free of undue pressure, and that every vote is counted accurately. As we know, elections are lively and hotly contested in our District. I see this as a sign of a healthy and vigorous democracy in action. We are also dedicated to helping ‘promote the vote’ in the run up to polling day and I encourage everyone to exercise their democratic right to vote!

A few highlights – Tour de Yorkshire

But I want to turn now to just a few of the highlights of the last few months. Our delivery of the Tour de Yorkshire was a triumph. Some 400,000 people crammed onto village streets, rural lanes and iconic climbs such as Haworth Main Street. Bunting, land art and impromptu street parties were the order of the day. And who can forget the umbrella tree in Lister Park? Two of our pieces of land art – the now famous Addingham Ducks and Branwell and the Bicycle (celebrating two hundred years since the invention of the bicycle and of Branwell’s birth) have been shortlisted in the TdY land art competition. Go to the Tour de Yorkshire website and vote for one of them! I saw first-hand just how hard people worked to make the event a success – they did us proud.

Praise for how we keep children safe

Recognition of the strength of our team work also came in the inspection of our partnership work on domestic abuse and its impact on the lives of the children of our District. If you haven’t read about the report of the ‘joint targeted area inspection‘ team it is worth doing so. It made me proud of what we do. The report speaks of the commitment of front line workers to serve the best interests of children, of low turnover and high morale amongst social work staff, of great partnership work focussed on the needs of the child, and a quality of work which is making a positive impact on vulnerable children’s lives. The inspectors also commented on the scale, complexity and challenging nature of much of the work. And of course there was learning. We are not complacent. We will address the points raised and make improvements. But across the trade press – the journals that cover our business – there was widespread recognition of just how strong our work is.

Congratulations to Sue Dunkley, our HR Director. She is officially the public sector’s HR Director of the year! This is great news for Sue and Bradford. She was nominated by some of our Future Leaders who conducted a very sophisticated promotional campaign which got everyone talking about what’s happening here in our organisation.

And finally huge thanks to our refuse collectors and customer service staff. They are part way through implementation of significant changes to how and when we collect the bins. We are introducing ‘all in one recycling’ where residents can now recycle more and put it all in one bin. We are also moving over to ‘alternate week collections’. This isn’t an easy change to make. But it’s happening and being handled – on the whole – extremely well.

Waste and recycling advisors helping with the changes to bin collections
Waste and recycling advisors helping with the changes to bin collections

Best wishes

Kersten

PS, as always, for more regular updates, you can follow me on Twitter: @kersten_england

Walk To School Week 2017

17 years of success for Silsden walking bus

This week is Walk to School Week, a national campaign to get children and their parents active. The added advantage of walking to school is that it cuts down the number of cars near a school at the start and end of day. The reduction in the number of cars reduces the amount of air pollution around a school at this peak times as well as making it safer for children, particularly if they are crossing a road.

James Brass, Environment Officer for Bradford Council, met with Cath Smith, a Teaching Assistant at Aire View Infant School, to find out how their walking bus helps families in Silsden.

  • How long have you been doing the Walking Bus?
    • 17 years
  • Why did you set one up?
    • Reluctantly at first – it was a big responsibility! The Road Safety Team came to give a talk and inspired the school to set one up. I ended up leading the first walks and never looked back.
  • How many children join in and has it grown?
    • We began at Waterside (on the east side of Silsden) with around 12 children with one parent supporting. Later on, we started a Walking Bus on the west side of Silsden. Sadly we have just one Walking Bus after one of our friends, a leader passed away.
  • How do you organise the walk?
    • We set up local ‘bus stops’ picking children up at different points along the route. Parents receive a letter and sign up if they want to join with the times and days they want. When we receive new children to the school they get information about the Walking Bus at induction evenings.
  • How have you managed to keep it going?
    • Dedication and I enjoy it!
  • What do you think are the main benefits?
    • Road safety is the first priority. You’re in touch with different people. It’s quite visible in the community and people respond to you. We have supported a wide range of families. It helps children to gain their independence. including one boy with autism who has got used to the Walking Bus coming everyday. The walking bus also allows mums to get to work and saves parents time.
  • How about the children, do they enjoy it?
    • Yes, they enjoy it and we are getting new recruits. Sometimes we sing songs or do some of the maths problems from class. If the kids are quieter, we just talk. When they get a bit older they start to walk at the front and gain confidence. At one time we were helping to train guide dogs because they needed to learn how to walk with children and adults. So the children got used to walking with dogs too.
  • Have you got any advice for others setting up a walking bus?
    • Get it set up, don’t let the barriers stop you, you will enjoy it. Once it’s set up it runs itself. There’s chance to socialise and the school is open for parents to come have a cup of tea. You need some commitment and it helps being a school employee.
  • Is there anything schools can do to help parents and families set up a walking bus?
    • Contact the road safety team to get help.
  • Have there been any other activities with the Walking Bus?
    • The kids did some running to school events where they raised money for charity. They also got to try a police speed camera and were involved in setting up the 20 mile an hour zone and having a Pelican Crossing built. We did a winter campaign last year giving out bright tabards as part of a ‘be seen’ campaign.
  • Are there any other considerations if you are planning to set up a Walking Bus?
    • It’s a big responsibility, and you need to have paediatric trained.

Gearing up for the general election

There will be a general election on Thursday 8 June 2017. If you live in the Bradford district, here is the information you will need to make sure you can vote.

How to register to vote

If you are already registered to vote, you do not need to register again to vote in the general election. If you are not registered to vote, you will need to register by Monday 22 May to vote at the general election.

The quickest way to register to vote is online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. Or you can contact our Electoral Services team on 01274 431360.

How to vote if you will be away on 8 June

If you will be away on 8 June, you can apply for a postal vote or you can appoint another person to vote on your behalf by applying for a proxy vote.

The deadline to apply for a postal vote is 5pm on Tuesday 23 May and the deadline to apply for a proxy vote is 5pm on Wednesday 31 May.

Statement by Kersten England

Kersten England, Bradford Council’s Chief Executive and Acting Returning Officer, said: “Following confirmation by the House of Commons, our elections team are now gearing up for a General Election on Thursday, 8 June.

“I am confident that we will deliver a fair and robust elections process so that the citizens of Bradford District are able to exercise their democratic right to vote.

“We have started the process to identify around 240 polling stations across the district and appoint around 1,200 staff to ensure the 343,690 electors currently registered to vote in a Parliamentary election can cast their vote either in person or by post.

Remembering the Holocaust

Victims and survivors were remembered at a special ceremony in Bradford’s City Hall on 27 January, 2017.

Guest blogger, Nigel Grizzard, Researcher, and Bradford Jewish Historian writes about how his family and community continue to be affected by the Holocaust.

It is 72 years since the liberation of the Auschwitz Death Camp on January 27th, 1945 by the Allied Forces and it is right that we remember those horrendous events of the Nazi era from 1933-1945.

The theme for this year is ‘How can life go on?’ proposed by the Holocaust Survivor and profound thinker the late Elie Wiesel, after the Holocaust and I want to tell you my thoughts.

The further away we get from the Holocaust, I as a Jew, wonder whether we are getting closer to it, more and more information comes out the Holocaust, and the past which has been closed off now becomes more open as documents are found and research has been done.

I was born in 1952. The generation of Jews after the Holocaust and I had a comfortable childhood in London, but as I’ve grown older I’ve had the chance to research and it has left a profound effect on me. In 1976 I moved North to work for Bradford Council.
My family who bear the name Grizzard came to London in the 1840s and 1850s from Amsterdam in Holland. On my father’s side we were British Jews of Dutch ancestry – but from many years ago. Continue reading Remembering the Holocaust

Cyclocross championships in Peel Park, Bradford

Chief Executive’s blog – January 2017

We are already half way through January 2017. I hope it’s not too late to say Happy New Year! I hope 2017 is a great year for you, your loved ones and for the Bradford District. I intend to do everything I can to make it so!

First of all I want to thank all our staff who worked over the Christmas holiday period. Whether out gritting, refuse collecting, providing services to elderly and disabled people, or being there for individuals and families in crisis, you kept the District running. As an example of the kinds of things staff contend with, I know that we and our partners dealt with a significant spike in domestic violence incidents, which is a depressing aspect of the Christmas holiday period.

The first few weeks back have been full on – from dealing with the ripple effects of the fatal shooting on the M62, to the liquidation of the Bradford Bulls. The meeting of the Council’s Executive last week was one of the most intense and thoughtful I have been involved in. The Council Chamber was packed with residents as elected members considered the potential closure of a residential care home, changes to payments to foster carers, the potential closure of Queensbury swimming pool and the introduction of car parking charges in some of our town centres. This is what local democracy is about – taking responsibility for making difficult judgements about how the interests of the District are best served, and being prepared to be challenged in public about them. We know that there will be more meetings like this, as we work through implementation some of the tough choices that will be required in the coming year.

And in the midst of all of this there are some great things happening.

I spent much of the weekend before last in Peel Park watching the British Cycling National Cyclo-Cross Championships. It was a fantastic event and thrilling to watch as hundreds of cyclists, from teenage to over 70, careered up and down the increasingly muddy banking in the hunt for the coveted national winners’ jerseys.

I discovered that Bradford is the base for some of the brightest stars of the sport, who will undoubtedly be representing Great Britain in world championships. Thanks to our Principal Parks Manager Ian Wood and all Council staff who worked to make this event such a success – those in the know tell me that Peel Park is the best Cyclo-Cross event course in the country.

David Hockney, probably the world’s most famous living artist, and a son of Bradford, turns 80 this year. As part of the celebrations we will open a new Hockney Gallery at Cartwright Hall in July. Before that – again at Cartwright Hall – we will host items from the Royal Collection. This is a collection of extraordinary gifts given to the Prince of Wales in 1875 by over 90 rulers of the Indian sub-continent. This is the first time in 135 years that they will be collectively displayed.

Back to cycling and over the May Day bank holiday weekend the whole District will be caught up in the carnival that is the Tour de Yorkshire. The final day of racing on Sunday, 30 April begins in City Park and a large part of the route snakes its way around the District. We will be working with communities and businesses to decorate the route and get ready for a bumper holiday weekend. So plan your viewing spot and get that bunting out! Continue reading Chief Executive’s blog – January 2017

Why we all should rally round…

The Council’s adult social care service provides a valuable support to older members of our community. Whether it’s through home care, day care, provision of equipment, care home placement or support for carers, the Council plays a critical role in improving the quality of life for some of our most vulnerable neighbours, friends and loved ones.

Funding challenge

There is a substantial cost associated with providing this support, yet in the last few years the funding received by the Council to carry out all of its functions has reduced significantly, with further savings still to be made in the next few years.

By 2020 the Council’s spending power will be half what it was in 2010. These cuts have implications for the district as the Council is having to make tough decisions about what it does less of, what it does differently and what it stops doing altogether.

Increasing cost and demand

In addition to the reduced levels of funding, we face increasing costs and rising demand for services. The number of older people in the district is growing, which adds further to the pressure on services, including adult social care. Earlier this month the Local Government Association published a report on the pressures facing the care system. Population projections from the Office for National Statistics estimate that there will be an extra 16,000 people aged over 65 living in the district in 10 years time with that figure rising to an extra 41,000 over 65s by 2039.

ageing-population-graph
Source: ONS

People can make a difference

There are some inspiring examples of ordinary people across the district rising to the challenge and taking on a greater responsibility for themselves and each other, with simple acts of neighbourliness, kindness, volunteering and community action. One approach which has provided great support to many has been use of the free Rally Round service.

What is Rally Round?

Rally Round is an online service which allows friends, family, neighbours and care staff to work together more effectively when looking after a loved one or service user.

rally-round-pic
Rally Round – small tasks, big impact

The new online service has been launched in Bradford to help people stay in their homes for longer, improve health and wellbeing and reduce isolation. This is also linked to our People Can campaign.

Rally Round allows a network to be created around a person with care needs. Anything that the person needs help with can be listed as a task. Then, trusted friends, family members, neighbours or staff involved in their care can see this, discuss it, agree to take the task on and let everyone know when it has been done.

It is a voluntary-based neighbourhood support service and is free to use.

Rally Round works on desktop computers, laptops, tablets and mobile phones and a daily or weekly email provides a useful reminder of what people have agreed to do.

Lyn Sowray, Assistant Director of Adult and Community Services – Operational Services, said:

“Rally Round is an exciting new service which has been designed to support people to maintain independence and improve their health. The online system is easy to use and can be securely accessed at any time to make life easier and safer.”

Visit Bradford’s Rally Round website to find out more or register.

Further information

If you are a person receiving or giving care, or an organisation with clients or service users and would like to know more about Rally Round, for more information please contact Mike Halliday, Commissioning Officer in Adult and Community Services: email mike.halliday@bradford.gov.uk or phone 01274 431931.

Join us in the ‘Make One Change’ challenge to improve your health and wellbeing

self-care-icon

We’re asking people across the district to ‘make one change’ as part of this year’s Self Care Week which runs from 14 – 20 November. We’re all being challenged to make a change which we can stick to throughout the year which will make us feel good about ourselves and improve our health and wellbeing. Sounds easy? It really is…honest!

So what sort of changes can we make?

Let’s have a go at changes that are simple and realistic (often the best place to start) because they’re achievable and really do make a difference. Here are some suggestions to think about:

  • Cutting down the amount of sugar in tea and coffee
  • Taking a brisk walk for 10 minutes a day
  • Keeping a day alcohol free each week
  • Having an extra portion of fruit and vegetables

We find that making changes can be easier when done with others, so making pledges with family, friends or work colleagues is a good place to start. For those wanting to overcome a greater challenge, such as reducing or stopping smoking, there is support available online or by calling the Bradford District Stop Smoking Service on 01274 437700.

Events, information and advice

This year for Self Care Week there are events taking place across the district designed to help us understand how a simple lifestyle choice can make such a big difference to our long-term health and wellbeing. Some of the many things on offer at the events include home energy checks, blood pressure and BMI checks, dental health, winter home safety, flu prevention, diabetes screening and treating minor ailments – and a chance to meet Billy Bantam!

Cllr Val Slater, Deputy Leader of Bradford Council, and portfolio holder for Health and Wellbeing said:

“It’s great to see so many organisations getting together and supporting Self Care Week. Whether you are eight or eighty, anyone can make one small change to their lifestyle to improve their own life and it’s never too late to make a difference. It’s not just about being healthy; it’s about feeling good about yourself and improving your mental health.”

As well as using self care to maintain a healthy lifestyle, there are some great resources available to support people with existing conditions. Information is available and booklets have been produced to support anyone with asthma, dementia, heart failure, stroke and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). The packs are designed to support and empower people to feel more confident about self care, maintaining independence, control and responsibility. The booklets can also be used by carers.

self-care-guides
Some of the useful information guides available online

Why self care?

Self care enables us to look after our own health better when it comes to self-treatable conditions such as coughs and colds, how to manage more serious conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, and how to maintain good health and wellbeing to help prevent illness. Self care is important and it’s about people doing more for themselves, either with support or individually. People will feel more confident to manage their health and wellbeing because they understand their own needs and know where to access help and support when it’s needed.

Health and social care pressures

The Local Government Association has produced a report this week which highlights the benefits of self care in reducing pressures on health and social care services. The report ‘Helping People to Look After Themselves‘ calls for a culture of care to help reduce pressures on health and care services, and highlights the high number of visits to GP surgeries by people with minor ailments such as colds, sprains, headaches and insect bites. Professor Ian Banks, self care forum trustee and former A&E doctor, said:

“Most people are entirely capable of looking after themselves most of the time, self-treating when it’s safe and knowing where and when to seek help when they need it. Self care is not no care; far from it, for example you will find the local pharmacist an excellent source of health advice and information. There are also reputable health information websites such as NHS Choices or the Self Care forum website.”

Sharing your Make One Change successes

We’re keen to see what’s being done across the district as people rise to the ‘Make One Change’ challenge. You can share your successes on twitter @HealthyBrad4d #mk1change #SelfCare4life.

You can find out more about the challenge and what’s on during Self Care Week by visiting the website, or contacting self.care@bradford.gov.uk

Good luck with the challenge!

Celebrating the district’s passionate people and amazing volunteers

You won’t be surprised to hear that researchers have found that the people of Bradford are more likely to give to charity than anywhere else in Yorkshire. The Cabinet Office Place Survey found that volunteers in Bradford are more likely to volunteer than those from anywhere else in Yorkshire. What’s more we are the fourth most generous city in Britain and the sixth kindest!

Volunteering

The district’s volunteers do some amazing things that you might not know about:

The Bradford Police Museum at City Hall is run entirely by volunteers. If you’d like to volunteer in one of our museums, you can contact Janet Bruce on janet.bruce@bradford.gov.uk

A team of committed volunteers provide dedicated support for male victims of domestic abuse in Bradford, one of very few in the UK.

Local people volunteer through the British Red Cross, with some on standby to drive a camper-van to homes which have been affected by fire. As well as providing emergency accommodation the volunteers also provide a welcome cup of tea and place of safety for families who may have lost everything. If you’d like to get involved you can visit the Red Cross emergency volunteering site.

Our community campaign ‘People Can Make a Difference‘ is actively promoting all the good things that people are already doing in their communities as well as encouraging more people to volunteer and get involved in community life.

Foster Park community clean-up

A community clean-up took place in Denholme village centre. People came together on 29th September in Foster Park to take part in a litter-pick.

The clean-up was led by Denholme Town Council. Staff from Bradford Council’s Neighbourhood Service helped out, with the Council Warden for Bingley Rural joining in and giving gloves and litter-pickers to the volunteers, with the Clean Team taking away the rubbish afterwards. Children from the village primary school also joined in on the day.

denholme-cleanup
Children at a community clean-up in Denholme village

The clean-up supported two recent initiatives in the village – Bradford Council has recently installed two dog-bag dispensers, purchased by Denholme Town Council, and the formation of a Friends of Foster Park group is being considered. Continue reading Celebrating the district’s passionate people and amazing volunteers

School children at the Love Bradford World Record Attempt

Chief Executive’s blog – October 2016

Our chief executive Kersten England has been writing a regular blog for staff. We thought you might like to read it too, so here is Kersten’s October blog.

This month’s blog takes a closer look at the workings of a Full Council meeting, celebrates some inspiring successes and shares a few things on the agenda for the coming weeks.

Full Council meeting, 18 October

Last week’s Full Council, on Tuesday, 18 October, was hectic! There was a huge breadth of topics covered and thoughtful debates about much of our work and what matters to people in the district.

There were petitions from residents about speeding cars in busy neighbourhoods, the proposed closure of a library and the introduction of parking charges at the St Ives estate. Councillors asked executive members questions about mental health services, parent governorship, care services, flooding, alternate week bin collections, and high speed rail services – to name but a few of the topics covered.

Motions were debated about unaccompanied asylum seeking children, smoking cessation, safer driving, proposed changes to parliamentary constituency boundaries and education priorities.

Bradford Council plan front pageCouncil also approved its priorities for the next four years, as described in the Bradford Council Plan. This is a must read! This plan will be the starting point for individual staff work plans, service delivery plans and crucially for development of our budget proposals for the next four years. The plan will direct our work.

The final item of the night saw Council approve the implementation of the changes to senior management. An elected member panel will be set up to appoint to the posts of Strategic Director – Corporate Services and Strategic Director – Place. Officer panels will be set up to appoint to the Assistant Director (AD) posts. I want to reiterate my appreciation for the sustained commitment and professionalism of staff who are directly affected by the changes we are making.

There’s been some great news since my last blog

Bingley Music Live scooped an award at the Yorkshire Gig Guide Grassroots Awards for outstanding established music festival. Congratulations team BML!

On Thursday, 15 September thousands of people, young and old, from across all the communities and organisations of the district stood in the sweltering late summer sun – and smashed the world record for the longest continuous chain of people making a heart shaped hand gesture (picture above). We are world record holders and that’s official!

The inspiration of participants on our future leaders programme, and billed as #LoveBradford, it was moving to hear the whole crowd chanting ‘we love Bradford’. For the thousand young people who took part and received a world record medal I hope it will become an ‘I was there’ moment. Our future leaders did a cracking job and learnt a huge amount about project management. Result!

The next day Bradford trended once more on social media – this time in support of our bid to host the Great Exhibition of the North. Each Friday the government department of culture media and sport (DCMS) threw the spotlight on one of the bidders to host the exhibition. The range and diversity of voices from within and outside Bradford speaking of their love of and support of Bradford was fantastic and humbling. We know we topped the popular poll! Of course we now know that Newcastle-Gateshead will be the host for the main events of the exhibition. We wish them well. We will take the energy, creativity and confidence of our bid and people’s support for it to deliver a great programme of events in Bradford in 2018.

We have just heard the fantastic news that in April 2017 Bradford will be one of the key hosts for the Tour de Yorkshire. It’s very exciting to know that we will be either a start or finish city for this prestigious three-day cycle race. The full route will be announced in December. After the warm welcome our district gave to the Tour de France Grand Depart in 2014, and the superb backdrop our Cow and Calf Rocks provided for the 2015 Tour de Yorkshire, 2017 looks set to be another vintage year for cycling in the Bradford District. I can’t wait! Continue reading Chief Executive’s blog – October 2016