Volunteer of the Month: January 2024

Volunteer of the month is when we get to shout about our amazing volunteers and the, quite literally, life changing work they do to help Fresh Futures run smoothly and effectively.

This month we would like to say a big THANK YOU to Ahmed who has been volunteering at Fresh Futures since October 2023. Ahmed has been supporting Fresh Futures with the recent rebrand by creating engaging content and contributing to the charity’s visual identity.

We caught up with Ahmed to hear about his Fresh Futures Volunteering journey so far…

How long have you been volunteering for the charity? Since October 2023.

Tell us a bit about yourself: I am originally from Egypt. I am a final year graphic design student at the University of Huddersfield.

Tell us about your volunteering role: In my role as a volunteer, I’ve been involved in supporting Fresh Futures with their rebranding effort. A typical day of volunteering involves collaborating with the Fresh Futures team, brainstorming and working on design projects.

What made you want to start volunteering with Fresh Futures? I found Fresh Futures as a result of research for my University project. I was drawn to the charity because I saw their commitment to making a positive impact in the community. Once I was able to volunteer I reached out and they were very friendly and helpful.

And finally, what advice would you give to people considering volunteering with Fresh Futures? My advice would be to find a role that aligns with your skills, so you are passionate about it.

The CE of Fresh Futures talks about rebrand and it what the new name means to the charity.

Today we’re talking to Mark Farmer, Fresh Futures’ CE, to ask him about the new brand launched earlier this week. Mark, YCC has become Fresh Futures – tell us why you’ve decided to change your name.

“When we were established 50 years ago, our vision was simple: to support vulnerable and disadvantaged children in Kirklees.  Over recent years, our remit has diversified and we provide many more services.  From our work with young people at our alternative education provision through to our work with perpetrators of domestic abuse, our services are more holistic today, than ever before. We’ve changed our name to one that represents our vision to enable children, young people and their families to have to have opportunities for a better life, both now and in the future.”

What difference will the new brand make on the charity?

“The new brand won’t change the services we deliver or the support we provide – we will continue to deliver consistently and provide support to people who need us in Kirklees and the wider region.. The re-brand is about ensuring that our name demonstrates to the local communities who were are and what we do to help.”

This year is your 50th birthday, has the re-brand been planned with this significant anniversary in mind?

“Absolutely! For us, our 50th birthday is a great opportunity to look back at the fantastic impact the team have made on the local community over the past 50 years.  But it’s also an opportunity for us to look forward about how we can help over the next 50 years.

We all recognise that these are challenging times for many. Between the pandemic and global wars, through to the cost of living crisis, many people from Kirklees are struggling and living in poverty. Fresh Futures wants to be at the heart of finding solutions in our  communities, championing new projects and continuing to diversify and support more people.”

What’s on the horizon over the next year for Fresh Futures?

“We have some exciting new projects coming up over the next 12 months. In January we’ll be launching a warm spaces project, from there we’re developing an employability offering and a support network specifically designed with young adults at the heart of it.  There’s also developments within our education provision, with a move towards more vocational courses, alongside opening our doors to offer education to post 16 young people.

Both I and the trustees feel that Fresh Futures is the right name for the exciting developments ahead, while still representing our core services supporting children, young people and their families.”

Watch this space – exciting times for Fresh Futures ahead.

29th June 2023 is National Work From Home Day

National Work From Home Day offers a chance for us to recognise the technological and cultural evolutions that have changed our work culture and has allowed for many roles that were once considered ‘office based’ to now be carried out just as effectively from home as in the office. 

At YCC, we are proud to have perfected a positive hybrid working culture for our charity’s administrators, coordinators, officers, managers and beyond, who were once ‘office-based’ and have seen plenty of benefits stem from this. We were able to do this by listening to employees’ suggestions, and ensuring that our hardware and software was current and secure, to allow individuals to pick up work from home (and beyond!).

We believe that a positive hybrid working culture allows for more efficient use of time, boosts morale, reduces sick days and parental leave days, promotes well-being and has enhanced productivity, amongst many other things.

Of course, hybrid working means time in our Fresh Futures buildings too. And we also have many staff at the charity who don’t have the opportunity to work from home (such as our incredible cohort of alternative provision teachers and mentors, and building services team members). So, for the times when staff are on-site – we have also developed our working spaces to ensure they remain comfortable, secure, and pleasant. This includes work with our Employee Forum representatives, a recent office refurbishment, and a new staff room for down time.

Not only does our commitment to hybrid working show the trust we have in our employees, but it allows people to take charge of their own work loads and work environments, be flexible whenever they need to be, and facilitates a positive work-life balance.

And if that wasn’t enough… it also has great sustainability benefits! For instance, moving from 5 to 4 days in the office per week can reduce that individual’s carbon emissions (and travel costs!) by a significant 20% – and that’s just ONE day of home working!

So tomorrow (and every other day!) Fresh Futures will continue to support a hybrid working culture as much as possible.

Find out about job opportunities at YCC, at https://freshfutures.org.uk/work-with-us/

News Update: £444,252 loss to low-income families in Kirklees via Healthy Start scheme

Within the Kirklees area there is an estimated loss of £444,252 to low-income families toward free fruit, vegetables, and milk via the Healthy Start scheme.

Analysis released in April 2023 by food charity Sustain shows that families across England, Wales and Northern Ireland will miss out on £68 million in payments this year if uptake rates don’t improve.

The Healthy Start scheme provides fruit, vegetables, vitamins, and milk for young families on low incomes, and could help now more than ever due to the current cost of living crisis.

Many families are not claiming, either because of complications in the application process, or simply because they are unaware they are eligible. Local authorities and food partnerships across the country have stepped up efforts to promote the Scheme but are facing difficulties associated with squeezed public health budgets and changing demographics. The Government had hoped to reach 75% of eligible families by the end of March, but only reached 366,000, or 64%.

Research shows that the number of households where children are experiencing food insecurity has nearly doubled in the past year and according to Food Foundation data, families with babies and young children are especially at risk, with 27.3% of households with children under 4 struggling to afford food.

Yorkshire Children’s Centre, a local charity based in Huddersfield that supports disadvantaged children, young people and their families in Kirklees and surrounding areas promotes the Healthy Start Scheme and are keen to encourage individuals and families that are eligible to sign up to the scheme.

Katie Lockwood, Fresh Futures Service Manager said “Thriving Kirklees are working hard to reach as many eligible people as possible through a targeted partnership approach, anti-natal fayres and Fresh Futures Community Champions. Although we have seen a slight increase in uptake there is still a long way to go, and we know that now more than ever, this additional help is needed.”  

Here’s more about the scheme:

The Healthy Start scheme is open to children under the age of 4, and women who are at least 10 weeks pregnant. In order to qualify, you must be receiving any of the following:

  • You, your partner, or your carer get Working Tax Credit run-on only after you have reported you’re working 16 hours or less per week
  • Child Tax Credit (only if your family’s annual income is £16,190 or less)
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Pension Credit (which includes the child addition)
  • Universal Credit (only if your family’s take-home pay is £408 or less per month from employment)

You will also be eligible for Healthy Start if:

  • You’re under 18 and pregnant, even if you are not claiming any benefits
  • You claim income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and are over 10 weeks pregnant

You can find more information and get advice on how to apply on Fresh Futures website https://freshfutures.org.uk/national-healthy-start/

Meet The Team: Brig Barrowclough

Name: Brig Barrowclough

Job Title: Deputy Head Teacher at Brian Jackson College

Date joined YCC: July 2014

Tell us a little about yourself: When I was 18 years old, I went to work in Dubai

Your role in a nutshell: I am responsible for the daily operations within the Huddersfield Provision           

Why do you like working for YCC? I work with colleagues who are a little bit nuts, like me, have the same passion as me for trying to make a difference within our community

What’s one of your favourite work memories? I have so many, our school trip to build water rafts in Chester ranks highly though

And finally, what advice would you give to people considering working at YCC? Be prepared to work hard and be flexible/adaptable

If you would like to learn more about YCC, click HERE.

Service Spotlight: Healthy Start

If you’re more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4, you may be entitled to get help to buy healthy food and milk. If you’re eligible, you’ll be sent a Healthy Start card with money on it that you can use in UK shops and your benefit will be added onto this card every 4 weeks.

You can use your card to buy:

  • plain liquid cow’s milk
  • infant formula milk
  • fresh, frozen, and tinned fruit and vegetables and
  • fresh, dried, and tinned pulses

You can also use your card to collect Healthy Start Maternal vitamins (these support you during pregnancy and breastfeeding) and Healthy Start vitamin drops for babies and young children (these are suitable from birth to 4 years old).

Who can access the service?

The Healthy Start scheme is open to children under the age of 4, and women who are at least 10 weeks pregnant. In order to qualify, you must be receiving any of the following:

  • You, your partner, or your carer get Working Tax Credit run-on only after you have reported you’re working 16 hours or less per week
  • Child Tax Credit (only if your family’s annual income is £16,190 or less)
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Pension Credit (which includes the child addition)
  • Universal Credit (only if your family’s take-home pay is £408 or less per month from employment)

You will also be eligible for Healthy Start vouchers if:

  • You’re under 18 and pregnant, even if you are not claiming any benefits
  • You claim income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and are over 10 weeks pregnant

Please apply online by clicking the following link https://services.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/apply-for-healthy-start/where-you-live 

If you have any questions about this service, please feel free to check out our FAQ page

Thank You So Much: Kirklees Family Fair

In March, Fresh Futures and Kirklees Family Together, hosted the Kirklees Family Fair in Batley. This was a free event for children and families with refreshments, entertainment, information and advice. On the day there was face painting, balloon animals, parenting and early childhood support, child safety support and much more.

Samantha Latchayya, Leadership Team Coordinator at YCC, who helped organise the event said “We are delighted with the turnouts to our Family Fair events, with hundreds of families reached across our communities receiving advice, support and a really fun day out for all! We would like to thank all of the local groups for their participation. Following the success of the partnership, Fresh Futures are planning to continue the Batley & Spen, and Dewsbury & Mirfield partnerships for the next 12 months.”

The event took place during Ramadan so we ensured we supported the holiday by not having food or drink on display, no having any pork or alcohol on site and quiet spaces were available for reflection and prayer.

Maryam Kazi, a member of the local community said “I loved todays event it was really good, my little one has really enjoyed it as well. There was quite a lot of information that I didn’t know was offered in Kirklees, the home start activities were especially useful for a healthy start, and I’ve taken all the leaflets.”

Jo Cove, Community plus said “It’s a lovely event, a brilliant setting, its quite central in town and its been a really good turnout for this area, because it’s not always easy to engage people in Batley I find. I’ve got three people here pebble painting and one person doing stickers. It’s just coming together and doing an activity and having a chat about the services we provide helping people connect with what’s going on within their own communities. After COVID I think people are a little bit more reluctant to go out and about, there’s a lot of people struggling with anxiety and depression, so we can help people with that.”

News Update: Quality For Health Award

Fresh Futures has recently been re-awarded the Quality for Health and Wellbeing award – the accreditation for groups and organisations delivering health and wellbeing services.

The accreditation confirms that Fresh Futures has attained the highest service delivery standards possible and continuously seeks opportunities for service improvement.

It was a gruelling application process, with an evidence-based application stage, plus an interview stage, including formal conversations with 18 members of Fresh Futures – from staff and trustees to service users and volunteers.

Samantha Latchayya, Leadership Team Coordinator, told us, “It was a rigorous process, so we were extremely pleased to hear that our application was successful. We are really proud to be able to carry the Quality 4 Health and Wellbeing (Level 2) logo for a further two years, and it goes to show that our hard work to implement Health and Wellbeing procedures for staff, volunteers and service users has really paid off!”

Within the report, Fresh Futures was particularly commended for:

  • The use of forums (sustainability, safety, and employee) to ensure needs are identified and views are heard.
  • A robust HR system
  • An excellent position for the charity to deliver on local and national health campaigns and to meet local and national needs and priorities
  • Fresh Futures clear vision to Improve Lives and Inspire Change.
  • Successfully operating within a range of formal and informal partnerships which have a significant impact upon service user outcomes (including third sector groups, health and social care, and education provisions).

On behalf of YCC, we would like to send a big thank you to everyone who participated in the application process, from collating evidence and responses, to participating in the live interviews.

And of course, a big congratulations to everyone who was involved in the application process.

Meet The Team: Colin Dixon

Name: Colin Dixon

Job Title: DAPP Facilitator

Date joined YCC: December 2019

Tell us a little about yourself: Dog walking, socialising and playing chess.

Your role in a nutshell: Running domestic abuse classes for men.

Why do you like working for YCC? Good relationship with colleagues and enjoy attempting to change behaviours of men in order to change others lives linked to them, children etc, for the better

What’s one of your favourite work memories? Recently finishing work after a long day and walked towards what I thought was my wife’s car, only to find out it was the husbands car of the facilitator I had been working with! Her husband was a little startled and said “IM NOT A TAXI”. Once we realised what had happened we had a good giggle.

And finally, what advice would you give to people considering working at YCC? Give it a go otherwise who knows? 

If you would like to learn more about YCC, click HERE.

Thank You So Much: Safety Rangers

For over a decade Fresh Futures has been leading Safety Rangers which is a multi-agency, interactive, accident prevention scheme aiming to reduce and prevent childhood accidents, increase awareness, and improve child health and wellbeing through a variety of fun teaching methods and scenarios.

Since 2017 when we partnered with Thriving Kirklees, we are so proud to have supported 4390 Year 5 pupils from 91 local schools, during 157 sessions.

We recently held a lovely celebration event at Huddersfield Fire Station to thank all our long-term partners that have worked with us to deliver Safety Rangers throughout the years:

  • West Yorkshire Police
  • West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service
  • Northorpe Hall
  • Safer Kirklees
  • Kirklees Road Safety
  • South & West Yorkshire Partnership Foundation Trust and
  • Huddersfield Town Foundation

We have received amazing feedback from those that have taken part in Safety Rangers over the years:

Many thanks for organising Safety Rangers for us again this year. The children learnt lots and have taken away some really important information and messagesTeacher

“I liked learning about all the different things and I thought it was fun” Year 5 Pupil

“Talking to all the different services helped me learn how to keep myself safer. We talked about trusted adults with the police and this is really important” Year 5 Pupil

Katie Lockwood, Service Manager at Fresh Futures said “Without the continued support and time our partners have dedicated to the initiative, Safety Rangers wouldn’t have been as successful as it has been. All our partners have been invaluable, and without a doubt enhanced service delivery to ensure each session is as informative and enjoyable as the last.”