Gorse Hill City Farm in urgent fundraising push to survive winter

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Sarah Crookall with a newborn lamb

By Alexander Hodgkins-Jones

Gorse Hill City Farm is facing a “real possibility of closure” unless a further £35,000 is raised in the coming months.

Council cuts to the Leicester charity farm have prompted a fundraising drive, but only £15,000 of the £50,000 needed to get through the lean winter period has been raised so far.

The Save Our Farm fundraising campaign was launched last October.

The farm manager, Sarah Crookall, said: “The cuts have come at a time when we have lower footfall and people have less money.

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This lamb was born last week (January 25)

“We are really pushing to get some big funding now with the hope that when the better weather comes we can then raise more money and get more people through the door.

“There’s a real possibility of closure if we don’t raise the money.”

The farm has tested a variety of strategies to bring in new income to the farm, in a process Sarah describes very much as trial and error.

Last month the family of an ex-volunteer organised a charity gig and on Saturday, February 15, the farm will be hosting a race night.

Sarah praised the fantastic response from the local community and local businesses but admitted bigger funding is now needed.

“We can’t thank people enough for what they’ve done, but now it’s the last big push to get us through February and March.”

The closure of the farm would mean the loss of a historic site in Leicester, which has been a part of the local landscape for 35 years.

Sarah also fears for the animals.

“We would hopefully be able to rehome every animal here, but I worry about the old faithfuls, the animals who are older and have been here for years.”

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The animals may have to be rehomed

The emergency has been caused by Leicester City Council cutting funding for the farm in half – from £60,000 to £30,000. By next year the funding will be zero.

The farm is home to several rare breeds of animal, including Manx Loughton Sheep.

Not everyone can donate a lot, but something as simple as a brush, a vital tool which the farm burns through thanks to its dozens of volunteers, costs as little as a cup of coffee.

“What sets Gorse Hill Farm apart is the historic value. It’s been in a lot of families’ hearts for a lot of years, which you don’t always get with other sites.

“We have volunteers from when we first started whose children now volunteer with us. We’re nearly on the next generation now.”

If you wish to donate to the Save Our Farm campaign visit www.gorsehillcityfarm.org.uk

Vegan activists seen and not herd during silent protest for cow cruelty


by Khrista Davis

Animal rights organisation Anonymous for the Voiceless organised one of its well-known peaceful street activism demonstrations outside Highcross shopping centre in Leicester on Saturday(FEB1).

‘A cube of truth’ was the demonstration performed on Saturday. The Anonymous for the Voiceless has organised over 850 AV chapters worldwide where they would hold all regular Cube of Truth demonstrations.

Many shoppers and bystanders gathered to watch the protest in Leicester in silence. Some of the team wore anonymous masks and held devices that showcased images and scenes of dairy farming cruelty.

Others drew powerful words on the ground in chalk. Volunteers only spoke when spoken to.

One of the volunteers, Chris Coningsby, said: “The goal is to engage people in conversation and to get them to think about the realities of dairy farming or other animal farming and lead them towards a vegan conclusion through a values-based approach.

“We do this once a month in Leicester, but I personally travel to other places like Nottingham and Birmingham to do them as well. I feel it is quite important and very effective in terms of helping people.”

According to PETA UK, ‘A British cow today typically produces 4.5 times more milk than she would need to feed her calf. As a result, these cows frequently suffer from painful udder inflammation or mastitis, which leads to higher levels of pus and bacteria in their milk’.

Anonymous for the Voiceless will continue to raise the awareness of animal cruelty and lead people to living an animal cruelty free life through veganism.

For more information or if in support of the cause, contact this email address: team@anonymousforthevoiceless.org.

Leicester South MP Jon Ashworth slams NHS Funding Bill

By Oliver Taylor

Leicester South Labour MP Jon Ashworth slammed the NHS Funding Bill in the House of Commons during the Bill’s second reading last week.

Despite Ashworth’s fiercest rebuttals, the Bill was passed and is set to go to the Legislative Grand Committee today (TuesFEB4).


Photo via Twitter

Ashworth expressed disapproval over how the Conservative Government lowered NHS funding to a lowly one-and-a-half per cent, significantly down from the previous Labour Government’s six per cent funding.

As a result, Ashworth argued this decision “has left hospital trusts with deficits of £571 million and billions in debt, and left the NHS facing a repair bill of £6.6 billion, leaving hospitals with roofs leaking, pipes bursting, equipment faulty, IT systems breaking and ligature points in mental health trusts deeply unsafe.

“This decade of decline means the NHS is short today of 106,000 staff and our brilliant NHS staff are being pushed to the brink every week, working a million hours extra than they are contracted to work.

“They are working every hour God sends to make up for the austerity these Ministers have imposed.”

Ashworth called out the Bill as a disillusion by the Conservative Party to show a fake commitment to the NHS, saying: “This is not a serious funding Bill; it is an underfunding Bill. It is a political gimmick of a Bill.

“The Secretary of State hoped that the Bill would signal the Tories’ commitment to the NHS, but it actually reveals their lack of commitment to the NHS.”

Concluding his speech, Ashworth called the Bill a disgrace and that “this political stunt of an underfunding Bill will not deliver the scale of improvements that our constituents deserve.”

MP asks for update on review of disabled parking criteria




Mr Costa asked the government for an update on their review of parking for those with hidden disabilities

By Luke Pawley

A Leicestershire MP has prompted the government to provide an update on its plans to review new disabled parking criteria.

The announcement came after South Leicestershire MP Alberto Costa requested an update from the Department for Transport on Monday (February 3).

Nusrat Ghani, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Department for Transport, responded by saying: “The Department for Transport will review the impact of the expanded criteria on the Blue Badge scheme 12  months after implementation.

“In the first 3 months of the new criteria being in operation, 12,299 people in England who had applied using the non-visible condition criteria were awarded a badge.”

Well-known comedian set to come to Leicester for exclusive event at Highcross

By Samuel Gill

Comedian Gary Delaney, who is well known for his one-liners and past appearances on Live at the Apollo, will return to Leicester for a special show in conjunction with Highcross Shopping Centre at the end of the month.

Delaney, who has also appeared on Mock the Week and is married to another famous comedian in Sarah Millican, has been touring around the UK as part of his ‘Gagsters Paradise’ tour and will be performing a routine in the Directors Lounge of the Showcase Cinema De Lux on Sunday, February 23.

Highcross were giving those who wanted to attend the opportunity to win pairs of tickets for the show which includes drinks and canapes before Delaney graces the stage.

Leicester is of course well known this time of year for the Comedy Festival and this will bring the ever popular event even more to life in a familiar venue.

Jo Tallack, general manager at Highcross Leicester, spoke ahead of the event and is looking forward to hosting the well-known comedian as part of the Comedy Festival.

“Leicester Comedy Festival is one of the city’s most highly anticipated events and we’re delighted to be hosting Highcross’ first ever comedy show at the luxurious Director’s Lounge at the Showcase Cinema de Lux.

“The show is set to be an unmissable night of comedy and we’re excited to welcome stand-up star and Mock the Week funny man, Gary Delaney, as our headline act.”

Tickets for this show are unfortunately no longer available but click here to view the full programme for this year’s Leicester Comedy Festival which starts this week and lasts all month.