Meet the Team: Katie Shephard

This month we have caught up with Katie who is the Head of Income and Partnerships at Fresh Futures. Katie joined the team back in September and is passionate about making a difference to children, young people and families. Katie is already planning some exciting events and activities for 2024 so keep your eyes peeled!

Job Title: Head of Income and Partnerships       

Date joined YCC: 11th September 2023

Tell us a little bit about yourself: I’ve worked in the charity sector for the past 15+ years and I’m really passionate about making a difference.  As a parent, Fresh Futures work is really close to my heart and it’s fantastic the way that the charity works to support families holistically so they get the support they need to move forward to a positive future.

Tell us about your role at YCC: I oversee all of the fundraising activity at Fresh Futures which means I get to work with all the wonderful people and companies who do fantastic fundraisers for us.  I also oversee all of the marketing and comms activity, which includes things like our social media channels.

Why do you like working for YCC? It’s fantastic! The charity does amazing work with local people across Kirklees, providing vital support and services to people who need them.  It’s also a great team to be a part of, everyone is so committed and enthusiastic.

And finally, what advice would you give to people considering working at YCC? Definitely go for it! It’s a fantastic place to work, with wonderful people, and there’s always something new and interesting happening. 

If you would like to join the Fresh Futures Team, keep a look out for our current vacancies HERE.

#WeAreFresh Futures #MeetTheTeam

New books for YCC!

Fresh Futures have recently received a fabulous donation of brand-new books from Independent Usborne Book Partner, Lauren Sykes (Albie’s Bookshelf).

Back in the Summer, Lauren decided that she wanted to fundraise for a local charity who support families in her local area, so she chose Yorkshire Children’s Centre after hearing about the vital services we provide.

Lauren held numerous fundraising activities including raffling signed rugby league shirts and prizes that were generously donated by local businesses. Lauren was overwhelmed when her final fundraising total was an incredible £720! Usborne then topped this up by 10% taking the grand total to £792.

Fresh Futures staff and supporters enjoyed selecting over 100 books that will be used across all our sites including the Colleges in Heckmondwike and Huddersfield, and our Contact Centres. Books have also been chosen to be used in our Toy Appeal this Christmas; ensuring no child in Kirklees wakes up without a gift on Christmas Day.

Lauren told YCC, “As an Independent Usborne Partner I love getting new books out to people so enjoy running community book pledges. I chose to raise money for the Yorkshire Children’s Centre as I think the work they do is amazing and so many children and adults will benefit from the books in different ways. I love seeing people enjoying reading and learning together.”

Lauren would like to give a special thank you to Hird and Partners Vets, and Tivoli Travel Mirfield & Holmfirth for their amazing donations towards her fundraising.

Volunteer of the month: November

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 Saberin who has been volunteering at Fresh Futures since July to support our mission to become more sustainable. Saberin has already made a huge difference here at Fresh Futures and we are so pleased to have her in the team.

We caught up with Saberin to hear about her Fresh Futures Volunteering journey so far…

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

Tell us a bit about yourself: My name is Saberin and I am very pleased that I had a chance to be a volunteer in Fresh Futures. I am passionate in my role and I like teamwork and I’m a very motivated person. I always like to upgrade my skills and my knowledge.

Tell us about your volunteering role: Identify and create projects or design posters and brochures that relate to YCC’s sustainability work. I also encourage people to support positive sustainable change and awareness.

What made you want to start volunteering with YCC? First of all I wanted to improve my computer skills but now I’m interested in my role.

If you feel inspired to become a volunteer like Saberin, or if you would like to volunteer in any way for our charity, please contact Fresh Futures Volunteer Officer, Daisy, on: 01484 519988 or email: [email protected]

Trustees’ Week: Meet Dr Ira Laketic-Ljubojevic

6th – 10th November is Trustees’ Week, so we’ve spoken to our Chair of the Board, Dr Ira Laketic-Ljubojevic, about what it’s like to be a trustee at Yorkshire Children’s Centre.  It’s also Living Wage Week so we spoke to her about why Fresh Futures is proud to be a real Living Wage Employer.

Tell us a little bit about yourself Ira.

I was born and raised in Sarajevo, Former Yugoslavia (now Bosnia and Herzegovina), where I studied medicine before the outbreak of the civil war. I was lucky enough to escape the troubles in the Balkans in the late 1992 and come to the UK where I completed my education and progressed my career within the public and charitable sectors. Having experienced adversity myself – including experiencing war and homelessness as a young female, my ambition is about improving people’s experience, quality of life and wellbeing by enabling and enhancing information and support offered that tackles inequalities and isolation, and facilitates inclusion, independence and choice.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about and committed to creating a positive lasting difference that will benefit people – especially vulnerable, disadvantaged, and marginalised groups, as well as the wider society. I care about people. That is the driving force behind my passion for equity, quality and improvements. In all my work to date I have been raising awareness of and tackling inequalities and doing my utmost to create conditions for and support culture of inclusiveness and equity of opportunity for all. Participating actively and with accountability, in life and in work, is what I am keen to do with my life. I have a zeal for safety, quality, equality and inclusion, with a focus on accountability, governance, learning and continuous improvement – I am driven by a need for continuous improvements, both personal and organisational.

Why did you decide to become a trustee at YCC?

Fresh Futures is the charity that supports vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people, and their families. Its vision is for all young people to have opportunities for a better life, now and in the future. That target audience and beneficiaries and those objectives are something that resonate strongly with me and I simply needed to be involved and see how I can be of help and contribute to the accomplishment of the organisation’s objectives.

How do the trustees at Fresh Futures work together to support the charity and its staff?

We are a team and we work as a team. We, as both individuals and the group, bring a range of expertise, insights, experience and understandings to the table that support the work and the wider outcomes of the organisation. We work closely with the leadership team to ensure strategic approaches for the organisation and the governance are sound and effective.

It’s also Living Wage Week and Fresh Futures is a Living Wage employer, why is it important to you that Fresh Futures has signed the pledge to pay its employees real Living Wage?

It is very important that people who work for our organisation are properly recognised for their hard work, loyalty and contribution; for the difference they make. Salary is one part of that recognition. It is important to me that there is an equality of opportunity for everyone and that includes the concept that everyone can earn a salary that meets every day’s basic needs, regardless of where they are in the organisational hierarchy. As a charity, we do great things and help some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people within our society. We also want to be a good employer and behave in alignment with our values. One way we demonstrate that we value our teams is by paying them a real living wage.

What are the three most important qualities for a trustee to have?

Integrity, passion for the cause, and empathy. Of course, there are many valuable qualities a trustee can demonstrate but to me those three are most important.

Finally, for anyone who’s considering become a trustee, what advice would you give them?

Go for it if you are given an opportunity. You will make a difference. Giving time, knowledge, empathy and energy can help overcome some of society’s most complex problems and build stronger communities, enabling individuals to improve their experiences and quality of life. Trustees as volunteers make a real, tangible, lasting and positive difference to people’s lives and it is great that so many people are engaged with various causes as trustees.

Thank you Ira for your time talking to us, and for the contributions you and the rest of the Board make to Fresh Futures on a daily basis.

Local business Langricks Chartered Accountants raise £1,550 for YCC!

On 14th September, local business Langricks Chartered Accountants hosted their 6th annual charity golf day at the iconic Woodsome Hall Golf Club in Almondbury and raised an incredible £1,550 for Yorkshire Children’s Centre.

This year, Langricks who combine their team’s love of golf with raising money for charities, chose Yorkshire Children’s Centre as one of their charities, with special thanks to Camilla Langrick who is Langricks’ Business Development Director. Camilla is a Community Friend volunteer at Yorkshire Children’s Centre and has therefore seen first-hand the difference we make in the community to disadvantage children, young people and families. 

Once the big day was announced earlier this year, 80 players eagerly signed up to secure their place to attend the memorable annual event. As part of the day and to boost their fundraising, the team held a big raffle.

Camilla said “When a call out for raffle prizes was shared with the businesses in the Holmfirth Business Community, we were overwhelmed with the number of raffle prizes that were donated, including jewellery, beauty salon vouchers, a glamp at the Holme Valley Camping site, and even an MOT. The Holmfirth Business Community really delivered in the name of charity.”

“It is important to us that each year we give something back to the community that we live and work in, we were delighted to raise £1,550 for Fresh Futures this year, we know it is going to a very worthwhile cause.”

Fresh Futures would love to say a huge thank you to Camilla and the team at Langricks’ for choosing to support Fresh Futures this year.

Are you a local business looking to support a charity this Christmas and in 2024? Why not get in touch with us today to find out more about Fresh Futures and the work we deliver in Kirklees and surrounding areas.

This Christmas, we are running a Christmas Bauble campaign where we kindly ask businesses to sponsor a bauble for £50, and in return we will display your logo on a bauble which will be displayed on our Tree of Wishes in the Brian Jackson House.

Next year, we will be celebrating our 50th anniversary and to mark this special occasion we would like to connect with local businesses to support our exciting upcoming community initiatives and events.

To discuss how Fresh Futures could work with your business, please get in touch with us at: [email protected] or call: 01484 519988


Meet the Team: Dawn Humpleby

This month we have caught up with Dawn who is a SEN Assessment Co-ordinator at Fresh Futures Brian Jackson College. Dawn has been a part of the team for over five years and has already made a huge difference to the lives of many young people.

Job Title: SEN Assessment Co-ordinator                     

Date joined YCC: 3rd September 2018

Tell us a little bit about yourself: I started at Fresh Futures as a volunteer supporting a pupil with Autism in his role at our ‘Pass It On’ Charity Shop. Since then, I have worked at Brian Jackson College as a Learner Behaviour support worker, Keyworker and now SEN assessment co-ordinator.

Your role in a nutshell: Helping to support our pupils in several tasks. Assessing the pupils in their maths and English. I run a reading programme for the students who require additional support or just enjoy reading for pleasure. I also support the SENCo with the provision maps and summary of needs.

Why do you like working for YCC? I like the feeling of a united front, a family environment and there’s support when you need it.

What’s one of your favourite work memories? I was nominated and came second for ‘Support Worker of the Year’ in the Stafflex awards.

And finally, what advice would you give to people considering working at YCC?  Go for it, join our team and make a difference.

If you would like to join the Fresh Futures Team, keep a look out for our current vacancies HERE.

#WeAreFresh Futures #MeetTheTeam

Volunteer of the month: October

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 89-year-old Elaine who has been a Community Friend to 94-year-old Rita over the last year. Elaine shows incredibly heart-warming compassion and kindness to Rita, and they have formed a wonderful friendship through their weekly catch-ups.

We caught up with Elaine to hear about her Fresh Futures Volunteering journey so far…

How long have you been volunteering for the charity? I have been volunteering for Fresh Futures for 1 year.

Tell us a bit about yourself: I am 89 years old, turning 90 in March, with 4 children, 12 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren. I love chatting to people, I’ve always worked amongst people and just really enjoy company.

Tell us about your volunteering role: Every week when I visit Rita who is 94 years old, she is waiting for me at the window and waving at me. I really look forward to seeing her, we have so much to talk about, and honestly we have become great friends. Rita can’t always get her words out, so I just hold her hand and let her know that it’s okay to take her time. Usually she manages to get her words out after a little while, and I’ve noticed that her speech has improved a lot over the last year. Sometimes when she is struggling, she tells me to talk while she listens. I tell her all about my family and what’s been going on. She always remembers the details, and the following week she won’t forget to follow up! Before leaving we always have a hug when we say bye.

What made you want to start volunteering with YCC? I’ve always had a busy life, but now that my children have their own families and I’m alone, it really helps me to go and see someone. I don’t really enjoy my own company, so getting out and talking to other people who might be experiencing loneliness has been really important for me too.

And finally, what advice would you give to people considering volunteering with YCC? It’s really helped me a lot. If you are helping someone else, it also helps you. I would say, if you can visit someone who might be feeling lonely, bring them a story, a bit of news, something like that – it will really brighten their day.

If you feel inspired to become a volunteer like Elaine, or if you would like to volunteer in any way for our charity, please contact Fresh Futures Volunteer Officer, Daisy, on: 01484 519988 or email: [email protected]

Pass It On charity shop news!

For many years, Yorkshire Children’s Centre have run a charity shop called ‘Pass It On’ in Heckmondwike. 

‘Pass It On’ is currently based on the same site as one of Fresh Futures colleges which provides alternative education provision to young people who have been or are at risk of being excluded from mainstream education.  The provision is unique because alongside offering traditional curriculum lessons such as Maths and English, it provides the opportunity for young people to gain hands-on vocational experience and skills in sectors such as hospitality, beauty, and the trades.

Currently, the college based in Heckmondwike supports 50 young people aged 14 to 16.  However, demand for places is far higher than the current available provision.

Fresh Futures recognises that 2023 is a very challenging time to be a young person. The Covid pandemic has meant that young people have lost almost two years within a traditional education setting, years that are crucial to the development of their core life skills.

Research by the Prince’s Trust, published last year, found that (23%) of young people asked in the UK agree they will never recover from the emotional impact of the Covid pandemic. The report reveals the happiness and confidence of 16 to 25 year olds has hit the lowest point in its thirteen-year history. More than a third (36%) reveal that the pandemic has caused a long-term negative impact on their stress levels. Also, almost half (48%) report experiencing a mental health problem, 46% say the pandemic has made their mental health worse, and 44% agree they are more anxious now.

Yorkshire Children’s Charity recognises that now is the time to act to support young people who are at risk of being not able to see positive futures for themselves.  We are excited to announce that moving forward we will be using the space currently occupied by ‘Pass It On’ to expand the college with additional classrooms.  In addition to creating new spaces, it will also enable us to provide provision for over 16-year-olds.  The move into post 16 provision is vital – young people are now required to be in education or training until they are 18, however many colleges do not provide suitable support for our young people.  By providing this new service, Fresh Futures hopes to move a step closer to our vision of all young people having opportunities for a better life, now and in the future.

Mark Farmer, CEO at Yorkshire Children’s Centre, says: “This is an exciting time for Fresh Futures and we’re pleased to be able to move forward with this expansion.  We know that there is a significant need in the local area and this increased provision will make an important difference to local families and young people.  Young people are at risk of becoming a lost generation due to Covid and other significant world events, such as the cost of living crisis and the Ukraine war, which are impacting on all areas of society. By growing our provision, we are helping to meet the urgent need of young people in Kirklees.”

This expansion does mean that from 7th October, Fresh Futures will no longer be running our Pass It On shop.  However, this isn’t the end for Pass It On!  There’s new exciting developments coming soon that will be announced over the next few weeks – watch this space!

In the meantime, we’d like to thank anyone who has kindly supported the charity shop previously, we remain incredibly grateful for all of the support from the local community!

Ukrainian Independence Day

On the 3rd September 2023, the Ukrainian community in North Kirklees joined together to celebrate Independence Day.

To mark this special occasion for our Ukrainian friends, YCC’s Community Connections Team organised a free family-fun event at the United Reformed Church in Heckmondwike. Throughout the day, over 80 people attended, including adults and children, to enjoy lots of activities including flower crafting, face painting and treasure hunts. We were also provided with fabulous music by Yulia Lord, and a Cossack dance performance.

One of the event attendees, Maryna, said: “We don’t get to see each other much anymore with work and stuff, so this event gives us that chance. Thank you”.

Fresh Futures Communities Officer, Ryan Cross said: “Seeing the Ukrainian people that we have been working with come together and celebrate their culture has been a wonderful thing. It’s always a pleasure working with these guys, especially when we can see the progress that has been made in whatever endeavours they have embarked upon. Whether it’s employment, learning English or living independent of their host family, they are all achieving incredible things.”

We would like to say a HUGE thank you to the United Reformed Church for supporting this event, and S2R for co-hosting the event, and a very special thank you to Arabella who helped run our wonderful activities on the day.

Volunteer of the Month: September

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 Melanie who volunteers in the Community Friend Service. Melanie shows incredible support, encouragement and kindness to her friend, Beryl, and they enjoy regular trips out together to the park, shopping and to the farm shop.

We caught up with Melanie to hear about her Fresh Futures Volunteering journey so far…

How long have you been volunteering for the charity? I became a telephone volunteer during the pandemic, and then about 17 months ago I became a Community Friend to Beryl.

Tell us a bit about yourself: I am a mother of two grown up children in their 20’s and I currently work part time in a number of NHS  non executive director roles having left my full time role in further education in 2019. I love being active, walking and playing tennis when ever I can as well as some time working as an “extra” in the background on film  and tv. 

Tell us about your volunteering role: Initially, I would visit Beryl for an hour on alternate weeks at her request and we would have a chat and coffee as she cared for her ill husband. We spent time getting to know each other and listening, laughing and crying on occasions. As our relationship developed and she began to trust me, I was the first person to take her out of the house for some time and I gradually saw her gain more confidence. Now, we often either have a chat in the house or on good weather days we go shopping,  to the park, or farm shop and combine a small walk with shopping and coffee. We have had two summer trips to Shibden Park and we are planning other outings. I often visit for two hours or more and we always have lots to say to each other. 

It is a privileged position getting to know, and spending time with someone at a vulnerable time in their lives. It takes time to earn the trust and develop a mutually beneficial and rewarding relationship with somebody new, entering their home and life.

What made you want to start volunteering with YCC? I absolutely love meeting people, listening and helping others. I felt the pandemic was very isolating and saw the impact on friends and family who were alone. I saw how my mother who had died from dementia benefited from visiting volunteers and I wanted to help as I saw some adverts for volunteers and knew there was a large list of people who were isolated or lonely.

If you feel inspired to become a volunteer like Melanie, or if you would like to volunteer in any way for our charity, please contact Fresh Futures Volunteer Officer, Daisy, on: 01484 519988 or email: [email protected]