Leicester nightclub and venue receives funding after being closed for months during COVID-19 lockdown

by Molly Kerridge

A local Leicestershire music venue was granted money from the Government as part of the Cultural Recovery Fund last week, meaning it can hopefully open its doors again in 2021.

The front entrance of The Shed in Yeoman Street, which has been closed for months.

Elisabeth Carley-Leonard, venue owner at The Shed in Yeoman Street, applied for the fund after struggling to pay staff and bills to keep the music venue and nightclub running during the lockdown months this year.

Watch the full video interview here:

She said: “Getting the Cultural Recovery Fund has been such a huge, huge relief for me.

“Everything, absolutely everything was weighing on this application, I think we were down to the last 50 quid in our bank account, and I still had staff and bills to pay.”

The Cultural Recovery Fund is a £1.57 billion sum that has been funded through the Government and Arts Council England to help music venues, from small grass root locations such as The Shed, to venues such as the Royal Albert Hall.

Before the application was accepted, Elisabeth decided to sell old furniture, clothes and other items from the club to make some extra money to help her and her family survive until the venue could safely open again.

She continued: “You had to go through the most convoluted application process ever, so I spent a week literally sobbing at my computer because I was so stressed.

“I found out last week that we’d finally got it, which meant everything. We originally applied for 65,000 and was awarded 50,000 which is still a huge amount of money, which means we can safely survive the winter, and be able to open in the spring next year.”

During the application process, Elisabeth had to gather comments from people explaining why they should get the funding for the venue. She put out a post on Facebook, which accumulated a huge amount of comments from regulars and people in the community.

She said: “I thought we’d get maybe 20 or 30 comments, but we got over 200 comments from people saying how much this place means to them.

“It’s not just a place where you go and see your mates’ band anymore, it’s a second home to some people, it’s so much more than four walls and a PA.”

People have also offered to work for free behind the bar, or on the sound system when the venue opens again, to make the process easier.

Elisabeth said: “This place means so much to so many people, and yes, this year has been shitty, yes, this virus is an asshole but what it has given me is a new found love, respect and admiration for this venue and the people who come. It hardly seems like a business anymore, it’s my whole heart.”

While The Shed stays closed currently due to current Coronavirus restrictions, Elisabeth remains hopeful that they will be able to open safely in the spring next year.

Demonstrations against new Polish abortion laws reach Leicester

By Beatriz Abreu Ferreira

Hundreds of people in solidarity with Polish women have confirmed their presence at the Piekło Kobiet (Women’s hell) peaceful demonstrations, which will be happening on Sunday at midday at the clock tower.

The Piekło Kobiet demonstrations started as a direct reaction to the new abortion laws in Poland approved by the Constitutional Tribunal on the 22nd of October, which made abortions for fetal abnormalities against the Constitution.

Polish abortion laws were already one of the most restrictive in Europe, only permitting terminations in case of a threat to a woman’s health, in the case of incest or rape, or for fetal abnormalities – which represented the vast majority of legal abortion but has now been made illegal.

Karolina Ciechaowska, organiser of the demonstration in Leicester, said: “I’m a mother of two daughters, and I still have family and friends, who also have daughters, back in Poland. And personally, as a women, it all just made me really angry.

“As I couldn’t be there with the Polish women to show my support and I knew these demonstrations were happening in London and Edinburgh, I started looking for similar things in Leicester but I couldn’t find it so me and another Polish girl decided to started it by ourselves. 

“What we plan to do is just gather there with our signs. There will be no screaming or shouting, we don’t want any abuse or violence. If we have enough equipment we might do a couple of speeches.”

The organiser of the event also plans to ensure social distancing will be respected and the group has been keeping contact with the police.

“I really want the police to be there, and to be aware of the numbers so they can prepare themselves. They have been really supportive.

“And we have been getting a lot of hate. I have been sent threatening messages on my private Facebook which is really not nice… I have family here, people can see what I look like… Our safety is as important as everyone else’s,” she continued.

The main aim of the demonstrations is to raise awareness about the issue and show support with the Polish women protesting on the streets.

“Many of my British friends have no idea of what is happening in Poland. And there is a big Polish community in Leicester.

“I think spreading the word can only do good, especially when there are so many Polish people coming over here.

“It’s important that people know this is, amongst many others, a reason why so many people, especially young people, are coming here. They are not coming here to take the jobs, they are trying to escape this government and looking for a life with more rights,” Karolina added.

To find out more about the peaceful demonstration in Leicester please visit: https://fb.me/e/2j8GI9ojx

Leicester locals worried about extreme measures after seven-day Coronavirus infection rate spikes

By Adam Rear

Leicester’s seven-day Coronavirus infection rate is now at the highest point it has ever been, causing a great deal of stress and worry to those confined within the city.

The city has had more infections confirmed in the last seven days than before it was put into local lockdown on June 30, with the infection rate reaching 278.1 cases per 100,000 people.

The infection rate was less than half of the current infection rate when the local lockdown was introduced.

Coronavirus safety signs scattered across Leicester explain guidelines to passers-by

With the sharp surge in Coronavirus cases, many are worried that strict measures, as seen across Wales, will be introduced in Leicester.

Supermarkets in Wales have been slammed with complaints as products deemed ‘non-essential’ have been covered up. In some cases whole aisles have been blocked off to stop customers buying products.

There has been much controversy over the term non-essential being used on certain products such as shampoo, period pads, clothes and cooking equipment, with many arguing that these items are essential.

The most prominent issue being women focussed products, such as tampons and period pads, falling under the non-essential bracket.

Civil servant and Leicester resident Anita is unhappy with the drastic measures set in Welsh supermarkets and hopes they aren’t enforced in Leicester.

“Surely buying cooking equipment and clothes is only non-essential if you have them, they’re very essential if you don’t,” she said.

“As for saying tampons and period pads are non-essential, I can only assume it was a man who said that.”

Leicester’s shops already have safety measures and rules in place to reduce contact

Other issues have arisen regarding the restrictions as pens, notepads and certain other craft items have also had their sale restricted in Wales.

Leicester College student Imogen fears those in education would also be affected if the restrictions were introduced locally.

“I think it is not really for the shops to decide what is essential as the needs of different people varies,” she said.

“It isn’t fair that notebooks and pens are considered non-essential when schools and colleges are still running.

“Women products like tampons are very essential. It is something that happens naturally, it is not a choice.”

Leicester MP says local lockdowns ‘are not working’

By James Wynn

A Leicester MP has said that the government needs to consider that its local lockdown approach to tackling coronavirus is not working.

Jon Ashworth, who is a Labour MP for Leicester South and also shadow Health Secretary, said that there were many reasons why people were failing to follow the tier restrictions that were implemented earlier this month.

Mr Ashworth stated that people were “fed up” of the guidelines but appreciated that some people had “got to make a choice between health and putting food on the table”.

Leicester currently has an infection rate of 326 cases per 100,000 people, and is still in Tier 2 level restrictions, where the city has been since June.

A closer look at Leicester Riders’ Morningside Arena’s COVID secure efforts

By Samuel Gill

After a previous article regarding Leicester Riders’ start to the season without fans and the efforts of those involved with the Morningside Arena, Leicestershire Press were invited down to see these first hand this past week.

An appointment needed to be booked in advance to come down to the arena and this will be the same on game night to enable segregation in times between those coming in.

As an arena, it is already set up for events seating wise with 1m+ distancing with the seats designed to accommodate this meaning nothing has had to change.

But on arrival, a temparature check is completed by the staff on site and you are required to download an app and sign up for a guest card which is then used to enter the turnstiles in the arena.

Hand sanitiser stations are utilised all over the arena for quick and easy access and a one way system is used as well.  The courts are also split up into three zones meaning if self isolation is needed, they can pin point who has been with them for Track and Trace.

Ventilation is also heavily used as well as on a business side, the use off the same system for the app so fans can easily purchase merchandise or refreshments while on site.

Fergus Garner works for both Leicester Riders and Morningside Arena and has seen these changes first hand since the country was forced into lockdown.

“It’s been good as it’s given us some down time to really focus on bedding in the new system and putting in these procedures as usually we’re quite busy with events and basketball so we don’t get that time so we’ve kind of used it to our advantage,” he said.

“We are on top of all the procedures so when fans do come back, I think we will be more than ready.”

Riders are set to kick off their season at Morningside Arena on 8 November without fans but against the Newcastle Eagles which begins their BBL Cup campaign.