Read the news and features from around North Yorkshire in NY Now.

As the countdown continues to the 2019 UCI Road World Cycling Championships arriving in North Yorkshire, our fluffy cycling fan has been visiting iconic and well-known locations in the county and posting his snapshots on our social media accounts.

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His jumper and hat were created by Ripon residents, Carol Dunkley and Hazel Barker. They have been hard at work knitting hundreds of miniature jerseys in the UCI colours, which will be strung together and used as bunting around Ripon.

The project has captured the imagination of people up and down the country.

After the knitters posted a pattern and photograph of the woollen jumpers on the website for Moonglu bike shop, owned by Carol’s son Neil, people from across the country have been creating and posting woollen jerseys to the bike shop. Up to 80 knitted jerseys a day are being sent to the cycle shop.

Now Carol and Hazel – who last year helped create vivid poppy displays throughout Ripon with Ripon Community Poppy Project - have nearly 3,000 of the miniature cycling jerseys, which will be used to decorate the town.

After the race, the bunting will be stitched together to form baby blankets, which will be sent to communities in need overseas. Larger bunting vests will be sent as jumpers for babies and toddlers.

Other craft groups have also got on board with preparing decorations to welcome the UCI races to their community.

They include the Tadcrafters craft group in Tadcaster.

The group was formed following the Boxing Day floods in Tadcaster in 2015, which resulted in the town’s bridge over the River Wharfe partially collapsing, cutting the town in two.

The bridge was rebuilt by North Yorkshire County Council in a significant engineering project and reopened in February 2017. Tadcrafters’ founder Su Morgan said the craft group was instrumental in helping businesses affected by flooding in the meantime.

Su said: “When the bridge came down I started up a group called Bunting for Tadcaster. We originally put up bunting to show which shops were still open and to get people thinking about supporting local businesses.

“We then went on to make bunting for the Tour de Yorkshire and became a Community Interest Company so we could apply for funding for materials and equipment like sewing machines.

“People join this group for all kinds of reasons. Not everyone in the group wants to knit or sew, but for those who do want to learn, they are fantastic mindfulness techniques.

“We mainly want to encourage people to become more active in their community and more resilient.”

The group’s decorations were used to help provide a welcome to Paralympic cyclist Dame Sarah Storey, when she stopped off in Tadcaster on July 3. She was on a recce of the longest para-cycling route planned for the road races, from Beverley to Harrogate.

During her flying visit, Britain's most successful female Paralympian took part in a question and answer session with local school children from Riverside and St Joseph’s Primary Schools in the town.

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We are giving people the chance to win a bear, whose outfit was knitted by Carol Dunkley, plus a hamper of goodies from across the county. To enter, simply suggest an appropriate name for Bear here.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to follow his travels.

Rider sends video message to Tour shirt winners

Middleham C of E Primary School was delighted to receive a signed cycling shirt from former national, world and Olympic champion Dani Rowe after winning our NY Now Tour de Yorkshire photographic competition.

The school was sent a video message by Dani congratulating them on winning the prize, which may be framed and put up in the school or raffled to raise money for school funds.

The school received a fantastic 290 votes in the competition, which featured entries from the length and breadth of North Yorkshire.

Lindsay Evans, Executive Head of the Federation of Middleham and Spennithorne Schools, and Year 4 pupil Ewan Brown accepted the prize.

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There’s tea, cake and kindness on offer every Monday morning at St Wilfrid’s Church Hall.

The Wellbeing Café in Brayton, just south of Selby, is one of more than 6,000 listings on North Yorkshire Connect, which helps people to find information about help and support where they live.

 

Claire Hodgson, who organises the weekly group, said: “We aim to provide informal support for people whose lives are affected by mental health conditions by providing a safe, friendly, open space. People are able to come along and just be themselves. Have the opportunity to talk if they want to talk, or simply sit with a nice cup of tea and some cake.

 

“It’s really important for us to be part of North Yorkshire Connect. It allows us to promote what we do here as a group. There’s such a need across the area for mental health support, so it’s good that people know we’re here.”

With more than 1,000 page views every week, North Yorkshire Connect can help community groups, services, clubs and voluntary organisations promote themselves to people who need help and support.

We’re inviting more community and voluntary organisations to sign up and join the community directory, which is also a valuable tool for professionals who are signposting to local services.

If you run a community group, service or voluntary organisation, it’s quick, easy and free to join. Add a listing to North Yorkshire Connect.

Jenny Lowes, service improvement officer who works with our waste management team, has a wealth of experience in recycling. Here, she talks about plastic and suggests simple ways to reduce our usage.

When I became a recycling officer in 1999 no-one collected plastic at the kerbside and we didn’t have recycling banks for it. Most bottles were made of glass. It changed when the new packaging regulations came in and producers had to reduce the weight of their packaging, which meant all those easily recyclable items, such as glass orange squash and ketchup bottles, were gradually replaced by plastic, which was much lighter. It was frustrating, where once these items were recycled now it was no longer the case. My days were filled with letters and phone calls (no emails back then) asking for plastic recycling.

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Anyway, fast forward 20 years and we’ve seen some bring banks for plastic bottles come and go, kerbside collections for plastic bottles to which most councils have added  pots, tubs and trays for recycling, but it now looks like the movement to phase out plastic and return to alternative options has come back around.

Many of my friends are trying to go plastic-free, with things such as bamboo toothbrushes, toothpaste tablets and shampoo bars. After working in waste all this time, I’m a bit more pragmatic about it. I know that the plastic we put out for recycling here in North Yorkshire is recycled. I’ve seen where it goes. But, yes, I have made a conscious effort to reduce my plastic consumption.

I enjoy fizzy drinks and used to spend quite a bit each week on bottles of soda and pop and fill up the recycling box. I have now returned to my youth and have a bought a fizzy drinks maker… lime and soda, blackcurrant and soda, all available whenever I like without the bottles overflowing in the recycling box.

Milk is another easy swap if you have a delivery service available. Since moving to a town 10 years ago, I have had a doorstep delivery of reusable glass bottles. I am sure along with the reduction in plastic it has saved me money with fewer trips to the shop to get milk (and doubtless something else that wasn’t needed).

There are other easy swaps. There are reusable water bottles bursting out of my kitchen cupboard and I have downloaded the Refill app, which tells you where you can fill up your water bottle for free. Buying water in a bottle is such a waste of resource and money.

To be honest, my reusable mug isn’t used often. If I do go out for coffee I’m normally sat in the café drinking in a proper mug and chatting with a friend, but there’s always a reusable mug in the car just in case… And who doesn’t have about 10 reusable bags in their car from various places?

I still buy my shampoo and conditioner in bottles, I just buy the really big ones now. Maybe I will try a shampoo bar, but I’ve heard mixed reviews so I will wait for a good recommendation first.

There’s no getting away from plastic, but I only buy things that can be recycled, so I avoid anything in a pouch – those are a mix of foil and plastic and can’t be recycled. I get extremely annoyed when I see refillable pouches being advertised as an environmental option as they’re creating rubbish that can’t be recycled. I’m not yet convinced over the toothpaste alternatives either. I’m going with what my dentist recommends. That tube will end up in my rubbish bin, but I know where the small contents of that bin goes and I think I’m OK with that.

Perhaps not everyone realises nappies and wipes contain lots of plastic or maybe the alternative is a more difficult option. I used washable nappies for my two children and their nurseries were happy to use them, too, but I did have a pack of disposable for days out and at night time – it’s certainly got to fit in with your lifestyle. If you can’t replace wipes with a flannel or cotton wool then rest assured that if they do go in a rubbish bin in North Yorkshire they won’t end up in the oceans but will generate energy from waste at Allerton Waste Recovery Park.

If you want to know more about where this non-recyclable rubbish goes (not your recycling), you can book a visit to Allerton Waste Recovery Park and find out more. Individuals can book on to a tour on the last Tuesday of each month.

Find out more about reducing and reusing your plastic waste and our waste and recycling service.

Linda and Rob Baines met while still at school and knew they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together. The childhood sweethearts have now been married more than 50 years years and celebrated many milestones together. So when Linda’s wedding ring slipped from her finger and disappeared down a drain she was desperate to get it back. Luckily our highways contractors, Ringways, were able to come to the rescue.

When Rob and Linda married near Lancaster on March 30, 1967, it was with a ring carefully chosen by Rob and a friend in Blackpool. 

Fast forward 52 years and Linda, of Langcliffe, near Settle, still has the cherished gold band.

But one day, while chatting with a neighbour in the garden, she made a sudden hand gesture and saw the ring fly from her finger, roll down her driveway and straight into a drain.

The treasured nine carat gold faceted ring rolled down the steep driveway and into the gulley before Linda could grab it.

“Leaning on a brush, I gestured with my hand, because I was making a point, and my ring shot off and flew down the drive,” she explained.

“I thought I would be able to stop it, but it just ran. We both stood there horrified and my friend said ‘it’s going to go over, it’s going to go over’, but it didn’t, it went in the drain.”

Linda thought she would be able to call upon her husband, Rob, to lift the grate up and recover the ring, but he had damaged his back and was unable to help.

“I said well the only option is to call Cllr David Staveley, our ‘go to guy’ in Settle and he said ‘if you leave it with me I will get back to you’.”

Cllr Staveley, who represents Settle and Ribblebanks on Craven District Council, enlisted the help of fellow councillor Richard Welch, who is North Yorkshire County Councillor for the Ribblesdale division, and, after a couple of calls, the County Council’s highways contractor, Ringway, was despatched.

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Simon Mole, gully operative, said: “I looked down and I could see the ring glistening under the water in all the dirt. I lifted the gully frame out of the ground, put my hand in and picked it out.”

Simon said it had been one of his more unusual jobs.

“It’s up there at the top, because I have never done that before,” he said. “The only other thing I have pulled out of a gully is a £10 note.”

“It shows that we are there to help and give a good service to everybody,” he added, before offering some advice. “Don’t stand near a drain when you are waving your hands about.”

Linda and Rob, both 70, met while at school in Lancashire and married in Garstang, near Preston, on March 30, 1967.

With the ring back in her possession, Linda has ensured it will not be leaving her sight again.

“It had been slack for a wee while,” she said. “So I went straight down to the jewellers in Settle and she sent it away. It’s perfect. It won’t shoot off anymore.”

As for the response they received from the council, the happy couple said: “The service was superb, it couldn’t have been better. We were very grateful.”

Cllr Welch added that it had been good to bring a happy conclusion to the incident.

“The weather wasn’t looking great and there was a possibility of a thunderstorm. If that had happened it would probably have been gone forever,” he said. “At the end of the day, the staff have a job to do. They probably have a set routine and they will have had to interrupt that to go and help. So it has been a good job all round, really.”

Student Kieran McConnell-Kipling is one of a number of young people in the county who has signed up to help children discover their own love of reading. We catch up with the 16-year-old volunteer to find out why he decided to volunteer with the Summer Reading Challenge at Selby Library.

“I had always been a fan of libraries. Growing up I visited my local library a lot. I loved Roald Dahl books ” says Kieran.

“My grandmother recommended I volunteered one year, to help with the library’s Summer Reading Challenge and I decided to go ahead.”

Kieran has just finished his GCSEs and has decided to devote some of his summer holidays to helping other young people, by volunteering three or four times a week at Selby Library. 

Young people who love getting lost in a book are being invited to inspire a younger audience to take up a reading challenge and develop a lifelong love of reading.

Libraries across North Yorkshire will be launching the Reading Challenge on Saturday 13 July ; inviting children from tots to 11 to read six library books over the summer. This year’s theme is Space Chase, to mark the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing.

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As the children progress through their books, they collect Space-related stickers and other rewards as they go. 

Libraries are looking for young people aged 12 to 24 to volunteer at their local library and get young children engaged in the challenge, whilst developing their own skills and confidence through independent volunteering.

Kieran, who intends to begin a design course at York College this year, says volunteering is a great way for young people to gain confidence dealing with people in a work environment.

“I struggled to talk to people I’ve never met before in public, but after two years volunteering at Selby Library I’ve got used to it and got a lot better. I would recommend it to other people my age if they want to build up their confidence.

“It also helps prepare you for what it would be like when you’re working in a proper job.”

Last year 6,790 volunteers aged 12 to 24 helped support the reading challenge in UK libraries with 127 volunteers contributing 2,459 hours in North Yorkshire.

Their roles range from helping staff sign children up to the challenge, helping children choose new books, talking to children about the books they’ve been reading and handing out incentive items and medals as children progress. Other tasks can include helping promote and lead summer activities such as craft sessions, story times and coding clubs and planning and running celebration events for other young volunteers.

Kieran’s grandmother, Shirley McConnell, is a library assistant at the Selby Library. She said: “We’d like as many young people as possible to help with the reading challenge.

“We get people volunteering from the age of 14 for lots of different reasons; they might want to get some experience of a workplace to put on their CV, or be completing part of their Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.

“We get them meeting and greeting the children when they come in, they sit down with them and show them what the reading challenge is about and explain how it works. They also help with the other events we put on for children over summer. It’s great for their confidence.”

Find out more about the summer reading challenge.

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“If I hadn’t gone into SASH, I’d probably be causing some trouble somewhere to be honest.”

By his own admission, Adam was ‘a bit of a troublemaker’ when he was younger.

“I was very short-tempered. I was permanently excluded from school in Year 9. I had a fall out with my family and left home when I was 16.”

Adam went to stay with a friend and didn’t see his family for two years. He didn’t go to school, had no qualifications and no job. He suffered from anxiety and depression and struggled with anger issues.

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When he turned 18, he had to leave his friend’s house. With nowhere to live and no means of supporting himself, he went to North Yorkshire County Council for help.

The council’s local housing hub offered him a place in the SASH (Safe and Sound Homes) Supported Lodgings scheme in Scarborough. The scheme offers 16-25 year olds who are facing homelessness a room in the home of a ‘host’. As part of their placement, young people get practical, hands-on support from their host and a dedicated SASH support worker, helping them to get back into education or work and preparing them to live independently.

Adam’s placement with SASH proved to be the turning point in his life: “They helped me work on my anger issues and my anxiety. I went to the Prince’s Trust. I did courses on team skills, employability skills and I did a CV workshop. I like nature and I did a work placement at Cober Hill as a gardener. I stayed on as a volunteer after that because I liked it so much. Now I’m back at college, doing a catering course.”

With the help of his support worker and his host, Adam slowly built up his confidence and skills.

“I’m happier since I’ve been in SASH,” he said.

“It’s been good guidance. It keeps you on the right path, if you stray a bit, they guide you back. If I hadn’t gone into SASH, I’d probably be causing some trouble somewhere to be honest.”

The role of hosts is central to the charity’s success in helping young people like Adam. Last year, SASH helped over 300 young people, working with around 90 volunteer hosts. These are ordinary people who have a spare room and who want to help young people at a difficult time in their lives.

North Yorkshire County Council commissions supported lodgings in the region from SASH.

Cllr Janet Sanderson, executive member for Children and Young People’s Services, said: “SASH plays a very important role in reaching young people in crisis. A lack of a welcoming, safe home can have far-reaching implications; putting them at risk of abuse or preventing them from accessing education, training or jobs.

“SASH’s supported lodgings scheme provides an invaluable service in giving vulnerable, young people the stability needed to progress in life and move on to a more positive future.”

SASH is currently looking for new hosts across North Yorkshire, particularly in Harrogate, Northallerton, Scarborough and Selby. You don’t need any special skills, just a desire to help and a spare room. SASH will provide full training, comprehensive ongoing support and a payment of £18.50 for every night of hosting, to cover expenses. All the young people we help are fully risk assessed (including a Police National Computer check) before being offered a place.

You can find out more about the role on the SASH website at; https://www.sash-uk.org.uk/get-involved/hosting or email info@sash-uk.org.uk or call 01904 652043 for more details. If you think you can help, please get in touch now.

Janet and David Warin faced the worst nightmare a parent could imagine when their son, Daniel, died in a road accident. But the couple vowed not to be defeated by this tragedy. That courage has seen them commit more than 20 years to a campaign to save other young lives.

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In May, 1995, Daniel, 17, asked to borrow his dad’s car to take his girlfriend to see a film and have a meal in York.

Daniel drove off, and didn’t return. After he missed his self-appointed home time of 11.30pm, David and Janet began a frantic night of phone calls and searching for Daniel. At 5am, two police officers arrived at the Warins’ home in Pickering. There had been an accident. David went to identify Daniel while Janet stayed at home with Neil, Daniel’s 15-year-old brother.

Daniel hadn’t been drinking or speeding, but he was inexperienced, having passed his test only three weeks earlier. The assumption was that he swerved to avoid an animal and went off the road.

Naturally, Daniel’s death affected the family deeply.

 

Janet says: “Every day on the way home from work I’d stop on Whitwell Hill and burst into tears because I was so tired from putting a face on at work. I practically had tyre tracks in the stones from always stopping at the same place. I did that for months and just couldn’t stop myself.

“Neil didn’t celebrate his 18th birthday. He didn’t open his birthday cards for ages and ages. In the end, he told us a few years ago it was because he couldn’t bear to see in black and white that he was older than his brother. Well, I never thought of that. I just didn’t.”

After Daniel’s death, Janet and David were invited by their GP to join a meeting at Lady Lumley’s School, which Daniel had attended, to discuss devising a programme to be used in schools. The idea brought together health, emergency and road safety services. This was the inception of Drive Alive, the County Council scheme that promotes road safety messages through schools, particularly to teenagers who have recently started driving or are about to start.

“It wasn’t a difficult decision to get involved,” says Janet, “because right from the day that Daniel died we decided that we going to swim, not sink. We’d seen other parents who had become bitter and angry. We didn’t want that to happen to us.”

That was more than 20 years ago and since then the couple have told their story to more than 70,000 secondary school pupils across North Yorkshire. During that time, they have each been honoured with MBEs for their work.

“We never thought we’d be doing it this long,” says David. “We just said we’ll keep doing it as long as people ask us to. We are very pleased that we’ve been able to continue to do it. We feel it is still being well received.”

Kevin Pratt, County Council Road Safety Officer and co-ordinator of the event, says: “Drive Alive is one of our key initiatives due to the vulnerability of young drivers and their passengers and Janet and David have been a vital part of the initiative right from the start. They are a fantastic couple devoting many hours to the pursuit of keeping young people safe on the roads of North Yorkshire. It’s very sad that they lost Daniel, but I know many lives will have been saved due partly to Janet, David and the many speakers that have been involved in event over the years.”

At the end of a day of presentations by road safety and emergency services experts, David and Janet tell what happened to Daniel and how it affected them. They talk about the “ripple effect” and how a single incident can affect many lives.

“We have always said that we can only talk about our situation,” says David. “I don’t think talking generally is as effective.”

Janet says: “David talks about what happened on the night of the accident. Then we talk about the funeral. It was Daniel’s friends who told us that they wanted him cremating and they wanted somewhere for us to go and talk to him. Because parents don’t ask their kids what they want at their funeral, do they? They’d think you were bonkers.”

David adds: “Flowers still appear every year on 6 May from some of the girls who are married now and have children of their own, but still remember.”

The Drive Alive events last for a full school day.

“David and I go for most of the day,” says Janet. “We sit in on the other sessions and you can pick out the ones that are not really interested. Then I’ll see them in our session and they’re sat there as quiet as anything. You can see them thinking I’m not going to cry, I’m not going to get upset.

“One year, a member of staff that had done Drive Alive for years and years and introduced us, when it came to his son being 17 he couldn’t do it and all these young people just stood and looked at this ‘sir’ crying his eyes out.”

The couple emphasise that they are not telling young people not to drive, far from it.

“In a rural area, passing your driving test opens up the world,” says David. “You can get away from your parents. In terms of jobs, it gives a little bit more freedom.

“We don’t say don’t drive. We want you to pass your test, we want you to enjoy yourself, you need to, but just do it sensibly and safely.

“As soon as you pass your driving test, you become a favourite friend, because you offer your friends lifts and that’s when it becomes much more dangerous. There is research that shows that if you have a passenger the danger increases by a certain percentage, add two passengers, three passengers and it just increases further.”

The couple are keen to carry on sharing their experience for as long as they can.

“We have a perfect opportunity whenever we go to a school to think about Daniel,” says David. “It is always there, but in a comfortable way.”

Janet adds: “We always take his photograph.”

Jordan Leach was working for Tesco as a personal shopper, but he was not fulfilled in his retail job and wanted to help people in a more meaningful way and to develop a career in mental health.

The Care Recruitment Hub, which sees the County Council act as a single point of contact for private care providers and candidates, offered a solution.

Through the recruitment hub, Jordan obtained a job as a support worker at Ashurst Residential in Scarborough.

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He finds his new job hugely rewarding and is really proud of the fact that he is able to help people in real need.  He is happier both in and out of work. When he first spoke to the recruitment hub about his background and experience, he didn’t think he would get anywhere in the care sector.

He said: “I thought they were just being nice by saying they would get me a job. The fact that they put me forward for multiple roles made me feel that someone was committed to help me. They kept in touch and were genuinely interested in my progress. It has made a huge difference to my life.”

The hub advertises vacancies on behalf of the private sector and is developing a talent pool of candidates to match them more easily to posts on offer. Since its launch, it has helped to fill 200 care vacancies, the equivalent of about 315,000 care hours annually. More than 125 care providers across North Yorkshire have signed up to use the service and more are coming on board.

Andrew Lawson, the registered manager at Ashurst Residential, said: “The service is absolutely superb. Members of the recruitment hub really understand what type of candidates we are looking for. Their filtering system means we get people who are genuinely interested and have some understanding of what the care sector is all about.”

Andrew said Jordan was “like a breath of fresh air”. “He is really committed to his work and has affected all our residents in a really positive way. Jordan came from stacking shelves at Tesco to giving care to 90-year-olds, but he has adapted so quickly and his confidence levels have grown and grown. We have now taken on other people through the hub. It’s really working for us.”

Ashurst deputy manager Michelle Payne added: “The recruitment hub has saved us so much time from constantly having to re-advertise for jobs and has found us candidates, like Jordan, who have a real passion for the work.”

County Councillor Michael Harrison, Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Health Integration, said: “Care providers tell us that the recruitment of care workers is one of the biggest challenges they face. North Yorkshire needs more care workers than ever before to meet the requirements of the county’s growing number of older and vulnerable people. National studies show that demand for services and demographic trends in North Yorkshire are five years ahead of the national average.

“People’s needs are increasingly complex so there is a bigger requirement for care to promote independent living.  The need for care workers has never been greater, and the recruitment of care workers never been more difficult.

“We are therefore using our award-winning recruitment team, with its specialist knowledge of the care industry, to support care providers across the private sector.”

A recent study by the King’s Fund think tank revealed how an additional 55,000 care staff would be needed nationally by 2035 to meet the needs of an aging society and that there are currently thousands of unfilled vacancies in the north.

In a rural county like North Yorkshire, where care workers can be required to travel long distances, where the cost of property is higher than the national average and where there is near to full employment in many areas, the recruitment of care workers is particularly challenging.

Our long-running campaign, Make Care Matter, has already done much to raise the profile of a career in the care sector across the region. When it became increasingly clear that care providers needed more support with the recruitment process, we stepped in with a solution. 

We are using some of our share of the Government’s Improved Better Care Fund to run the Care Recruitment Hub. The hub acts to create a talent pool of candidates so that when providers seek help with a vacancy the hub can provide candidates that match the criteria, speeding up the process considerably.

Mike Padgham, Chair of the Independent Care Group, said: “There are more than 100,000 social care vacancies on any one day at the moment, so any positive initiative that looks to bring more people into the sector has to be welcomed with open arms. We are delighted to support North Yorkshire County Council in this recruitment initiative and pleased to see that it is already bearing fruit and people are being recruited into the wonderful and rewarding career of social care. The County Council is to be congratulated.”

This week, North Yorkshire has been celebrating Volunteers’ Week, the national event recognising the contribution made by the millions of people who volunteer in the UK.

Community organisations, social enterprises and individual volunteers make a huge contribution to lives across the county and enable extended service provision in ways that would not otherwise be possible.

Last year, almost 6,000 volunteers helped North Yorkshire County Council deliver services to communities, with home library service volunteers delivering more than 50,000 items to 14,000 people who can’t get to a library and 98 countryside volunteers spending 1,322 hours maintaining public rights of way.

Peter Dickinson volunteers two mornings a week as an IT buddy at Scarborough library. Peter said: “I’d worked in banking for 40 years and began looking for an opportunity to put something back into the community. I spend a lot of my time now on the computers with customers helping with a variety of things. Job searches, universal credit, ordering prescriptions, booking holidays, looking for lost family members. It’s a great deal of fun.”

 

By contrast, Sara Allott is among 331 people who have signed up to join Ready for Anything, which is about everyday people coming together to support the responding agencies during an emergency.

Sara, a teacher from Bilsdale, said: “I joined Ready for Anything because I don’t want to be sat at home watching a disaster unfold. I want to be there in a position to be able to help.”

Cllr David Chance, the County Council’s Executive Member for Stronger Communities, said: “Volunteers bring a variety of skills, knowledge and expertise to the projects and initiatives they’re involved with, which in North Yorkshire range from people working with our archives team to volunteers who support the emergency response during a major incident. We also have volunteers who promote waste reduction and act as peer mentors for care leavers as well as volunteers enhancing the customer experience at our children’s centres and residential care homes. I would like to thank each and every one of them for their commitment, energy and enthusiasm.”

Find out about volunteering opportunities with the County Council and in North Yorkshire generally.

Zakaria Battal and his wife and three children are one of 50 refugee families that have been given a safe home in North Yorkshire in recent years.

Zakaria is now building a new life for himself and his family in the county, making use of his love of preparing food and his many years’ experience as a sous chef in Syria.

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“I come from Afrin, a city in northern Syria,” he says. “My wife and I have three children, two boys and a little girl who was born just last year here in the UK. I used to be a chef in Syria and worked in a very touristy place bordering Turkey, called Kessab.

“Our life back in Syria suddenly changed after the war, so we had to escape and go to Lebanon. We stayed in Lebanon for five years in fear, as we were treated as outsiders.

“We did not feel safe in Lebanon and therefore we approached the UN for the resettlement programme. Our case was accepted by the UN and we had a very short time to get ready to come to the UK.

“I wasn’t sure what living in the UK would be like. I was a bit worried for my family, but when we arrived at the airport there were many people welcoming us. I will never forget the first smiles and welcomes we received at the airport. With my broken English and tearful eyes, I tried to express my happiness.

“We were brought to Harrogate, where I now call home. It is home, because we feel safe and we have friends who are like family members. The neighbourhood is very safe and people in Harrogate are kind, welcoming and friendly. We are well settled in Harrogate.”

Alongside learning English since arriving in Harrogate, Zakaria has continued to share his love of food by volunteering at St Mark’s Church where he makes refreshments for the church visitors every Wednesday.

He is pursuing self-employment and hopes to be selling his creations on the local markets throughout North Yorkshire in the near future. He has set up a Kurdish Kitchen catering food and drink supply business online.

“My dream is to one day own my own restaurant in Harrogate and make tasty foods,” he says.

The UK government has pledged to bring to the UK 20,000 of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees by 2020 and 3,000 people under the vulnerable children’s resettlement scheme (children in families from other war-torn areas in the Middle East and North Africa).

North Yorkshire has participated in both schemes, welcoming 238 refugees (50 families) to the county between July 2016 and February 2018.

The refugee resettlement is co-ordinated nationally by the Home Office and is fully funded by central government. Locally, the County Council has led on co-ordinating the programme, including providing English language classes for the adults to help to build their independence.

An increasing number of the adults resettled in North Yorkshire have gained employment and many more are volunteering as a first step towards paid work.

Refugees resettled under the two schemes have temporary leave to remain in the UK for five years. At the end of that period the government will assess whether it is safe for them to return to their native country.

Recipes

Zakaria has provided a couple of the recipes he has brought with him to North Yorkshire to NY Now readers.

To many, kibbeh is the signature of Middle Eastern cuisine. Tabbouleh goes well with Kibbeh and is very easy to make. Together they are pretty much the national dish of Syria.

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Kibbeh  

Ingredient for approximately 60 pieces

  • 500g fine brown bulgur
  • 500g fine white bulgur
  • 4g all spice (sweet pepper)
  • 3g cumin
  • 1g black pepper
  • 0.5g cinnamon
  • 16g salt
  • 1 litre water
  • 300g finely minced lamb (like paste)
  • 100g chopped onion

Filling ingredients                                     

  • 180ml sunflower oil
  • 1.5kg minced lamb
  • 300g finely chopped onions                         
  • 8g cinnamon sticks
  • 4g all spice
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 8g salt
  • 0.5g cinnamon
  • 150g pine nuts

Filling preparation

Heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan. Fry the onion until it is translucent, then add the mincemeat, bay leaves and cinnamon sticks and fry it until it is brown and crumbly. Then add all the spices to the minced meat approximately two minutes before it is cooked. At the side, fry the pine nuts in 30ml of sunflower oil.

Making Kibbeh

Mix all the ingredients with water, and leave the mix for an hour to rest and for the bulgur wheat to absorb the water and the spices. After one hour, mix the minced meat with the bulgur wheat and the spices and put it twice through a meat mincer.

Shape the kibbeh into balls and with your fingers shape it like a small rugby ball then fill it with the prepared filling. Then put it in the freezer for about an hour before putting it in the deep fat fryer until it is cooked.  

Tabbouleh

Ingredients

  • 300g finely chopped flat leaf parsley.
  • 500g finely chopped tomato
  • 12g finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 100ml lemon juice
  • 50ml olive oil
  • 8g salt
  • 30g fine brown bulgur wheat
  • 75g chopped onions

Preparation

Just mix all the ingredients together.

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