The Voluntary Action Leeds (VAL) AGM took place on Thursday 20 September 2018 at Stringer House.
The meeting saw inspirational addresses from Voluntary Action Leeds’ Chair, Chris Hollins and Chief Officer, Richard Jackson, on coming together to tackle inequality across the city and VAL’s role in doing so.
First to take to the stage were key note speakers from Leeds City Council, Acting Head of Transportation Services, Andrew Hall and Project Manager for City Development, Yvonne Roberts, who led an interactive session on ‘Connecting Leeds’ - a strategy which aims to transform travel for people who live, work in and visit the city.
Connecting Leeds and the Third Sector
So far 15,000 people in Leeds have joined the transport conversation, sharing their views on improvements to five key road and bus routes, proposed new rail stations at Thorpe Park and White Rose, along with enhanced park and ride facilities and city centre transport infrastructure upgrades.
The transport conversation continued at the AGM, with updates on the consultation and plans to date, and a focus on sustainability, bus use, traffic and improving the Leeds and Bradford corridor.
The session concluded with an audience Q&A and the opportunity to ensure the third sector is making a meaningful contribution to this conversation. This includes themes such as improving accessibility, protecting the environment and tackling climate change, and ensuring economic growth is inclusive by enabling all communities to be able to access employment and education, as well as improving wellbeing through physical activity, such as walking and cycling.
There’s a lot to talk about, not least as Richard Jackson stated, how the third sector works together to address the issue of tolerance and how people act towards one another on public transport.
To have your say and get involved in the conversation, the current consultant information and updates on Connecting Leeds can be found here.
Tackling inequality together
The message from Chris Hollins was very much one of equality and a reminder of our shared motivation to come together to tackle inequalities across the city – from healthcare and wellbeing to education and crime.
Chris said: “We have come to recognise the fact that in Leeds we have a twin-track economy. That means a divided economy, in which there is a huge gulf between those at the top and those at the bottom and as a result, greater inequality.
“Inequality is a fact of life and something that we cannot escape. However, everyone in the third sector (and many people from other sectors) are looking to bring about change, and it is that which motivates us to be an active participant in the third sector. We CAN, and we DO, make a difference in Leeds.”
Creating a self-reliant Third Sector in Leeds
As well as giving an organisational update, Richard Jackson closed proceedings by highlighting the crucial part VAL plays in supporting the third sector in Leeds.
Richard explained: “It’s our job to ensure we’re supporting third sector organisations in the short term but most importantly, empowering them in the longer term to become self-reliant. This is reflected in all of the fantastic work carried out by teams this year on projects such as Giving Time and Employer Supported Volunteering, LeedsVoices, Third Sector Leeds, Young Lives Leeds, the BME Hub, and all of the funding, training and business support we’ve delivered to organisations across the sector.
Richard concluded: “It’s Voluntary Action Leeds’ job to equip organisations with the skills, know-how, opportunities and resource to achieve their objectives but self-reliant third sector organisations, means a stronger future for the third sector as a whole in Leeds.”