Leicester homeless charity looking for volunteers to help at new shop

By Matthew Chandler

leicetser homeless charity

Help the Homeless Leicester at work in January

A charity in Leicester aiming to find permanent housing for the homeless is looking for volunteers to help at its new charity shop.

Help the Homeless Leicester, which feeds rough sleepers at the city’s market every Wednesday evening, will open its new store in Abbey Street in the next few weeks.

The shop will sell donated items and have an upstairs office space for people to receive advice, or for the charity to advocate housing for them.

Founding member Arif Voradji, who started the charity four years ago this month, said that extra help at the shop will always be welcome: “We’ll be needing volunteers in the shop as well so if people want to come and donate a few hours here and there that’s perfect.

“It’s not the homeless we help; it’s helping struggling families if they need things. We help a wide variety of people; in the past if people have suffered from flooding, for example. It’s pretty easy to do, it just needs some commitment.”

Arif was inspired to begin the charity by a friend who had been doing similar work in his home town of Bolton, so began buying bulk sets of jeans from eBay, and giving them out to those in need.

It has continually grown ever since, and its Facebook group, where people advertise spare food or clothing and draw attention to others needing help, now boasts more than 13,000 members.

Since becoming a registered charity earlier this year, Arif feels this has enabled his work to prosper even further: “There’s more transparency now for people who want to give money, and providing they [homeless people] haven’t got active addictions, we can provide permanent housing.

“We also get the benefits of companies that want to now work with us and get tax relief from donations from those that want to give money.”

With the winter months having now arrived, Arif is prepared for the charity’s busiest but most profitable time of year, and reiterated his team will assist anyone they can safely give help to.

He said: “From November to March it gets really busy and our donations are highest then because people can see the good that we’re doing when we’re housing people, so they want to be a part of it.

“If we can help people and it’s within our criteria, of course we’ll definitely help them. We will happily put them into a bed and breakfast; that’s not a problem.”

To get involved with the charity, visit facebook.com/hthleicester/

Heatherbrook Primary Academy in top three most improved schools in Leicester


Screenshot 2018-11-19 22.43.57

The pupils at Heatherbrook Primary Academy have reached new heights in maths, writing and reading.


By Sophie Sandberg

Heatherbrook Primary Academy in Leicester is one of the top three most improved schools in the city, it was announced by Leicester City Council on Friday(NOV16).

The academy has been praised by the Head of Service for Education Performance in Leicester for its improvements in reading, writing and mathematics compared to last year’s results.

Through extensive efforts put into focusing on extra maths, reading and writing, the school was announced to be among the most improved schools in the city in these fields.

Miss Jen Mitchell, Principal of Heatherbrook Primary Academy, said: “This is truly a testament to the outstanding work of everybody involved in our school community.

“At Heatherbrook we promote a supportive and caring environment that fosters good working relationships and promotes a calm and positive atmosphere.

“Our academy is a place where people matter and we are very proud of the tradition the school has for taking care of and supporting children as they learn and develop.

“We aim for parents, carers, teachers and children to work together to make this a happy and successful school,” she concluded.

Heatherbrook Primary Academy is described as a thriving school where the Governors and staff are dedicated to providing a high standard of education for all of its pupils.

The academy is in the top three schools in the city for its improvements in Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 reading, writing and maths combined, improved by 15.9 per cent compared to last year’s results.

“These results are the culmination of a lot of hard work undertaken by the whole school team over time and I would like to congratulate everyone who has been involved in making this possible,” said Sandra Roberts, Interim Head of Service for Education Performance in Leicester.

Leicester City Council to officially begin Christmas festivities

By Tyler Arthur

Christmas season is now well and truly under way in Leicester, with the Christmas Lights being turned on this Thursday(NOV22).

The Christmas festivities started with the erection of the Christmas Wheel of Light, a 110-foot Ferris wheel which annually visits Jubilee Square, at the heart of the town, which opened on Friday.

Jubilee Square also hosts an ice rink every winter, which this year is 50 per cent bigger than it was last year, featuring real ice and offering skating aids for children. Ticket prices start at £7.50, however, groups of four or more people get discounts.

As well as the events and activities, the city visually transforms – this year’s theme is a ‘white Christmas’ – with a 43-foot snow-covered Christmas tree in the centre, and thousands of decorative lights.

The lights will be switched on this week; in an event from 5pm-8pm on Thursday, featuring music and entertainment from X Factor winner Sam Bailey, and more.

Rebecka Mason, 20, a student at De Montfort University, said: “I like how festive the city looks, particularly the high street area and by the clocktower.

“The tree and all of the lights always get me into the Christmas spirit.”

Leicester City Council organises and plans these activities and decorations, whilst also funding the seasonal overhaul.

Every year the City Council has to spend approximately £50,000 to replace any broken features, and also add new decorations and lights.

Alex Hulme, 18, a first-year student at DMU, said: “This is my first Christmas in Leicester, and I’ve heard that the decorations are pretty good, so I’m looking forward to seeing everything once the lights are switched on.”

Over the Christmas period, Leicester’s shops stay open later and the parking services are also extended, to facilitate shoppers in the festive season.

There’s also a ‘Santa in the Square’ opportunity for children to meet Santa in New Market Square, from December 8 to 23, and the Christmas Market is taking place on Sunday, December 2, in Queen’s Road.

For more information on all things Christmas in Leicester, go to www.visitleicester.info.

Art fans make Leicester Print Festival a success

By Alex Murray

Art fans from across Leicestershire visited the Leicester Print Workshop last weekend for the second annual Leicester Print Festival.

The event for all ages saw various activities take place.

Visitors were invited to take part in various activities suitable for all ages, listen to talks and to engage with other lovers of print.

All the activities on offer over the entire weekend were free, as Leicester celebrated Leicester Art Week.


There was a range of activities going on  at the event.  

Elizabeth Hawley-Lingham, a volunteer at the event, said: “We’ve got the Print Festival on yesterday and today where we’re showcasing printmaking and artist’s practice.

“We’ve got a new exhibition of different artists working in print that’s just opened so we’re promoting that.

“We’re also just allowing people to get involved in all sorts of print making activities.”

People were encouraged to take part in various printmaking activities, such as making their own prints.

A number of talks were also taking place by various artists, talking about their work and other things associated with the art of print.

Stone lithography, linocut prints and how to get into printing were only some of the topics that were discussed over the weekend.

There was also an exhibition of work by two fellows of the Leicester Print Workshop, Nína Óskarsdóttir and Mandy Payne, whose work was on display for visitors to view.

Mrs Hawley-Lingham, who also volunteers at the print workshop, added: “It’s also been quite busy.

“We’ve had a steady flow of people, today and yesterday we had about 220 people so we’re hoping to match that today if possible.”

The people who visited the event were treated with their own print they could take home, and also had the opportunity to look around the studios of various artists working at the print studios.

Artwork was also on sale, with various cards posters and prints available to buy.


Market square converted into food village for lights’ switch-on

By Alex Leadbitter

Leicester’s New Market Square will be converted into a food village for a Christmas lights’ switch-on event that will take place on Thursday, (Nov 22).

From midday until 10.30pm, canteens will fill the square, serving lunch, dinner, cocktails, mulled wine and plenty of street food favourites that will lead up to the switching on of the lights.

As well as food traders, visitors can expect music and entertainment alongside the servings of food and drink.

Some of the traders that will be serving at the event include The Gravy Train, Smoqued, Biddulphs Pizzeria, Urban Cheesecake and Bournville Waffle Co.

Visitors are also encouraged to visit the Town Hall where there will be a special Alice in Wonderland display, a traditional nativity scene, and carol singing.