As the sun set on an extraordinary day for me yesterday, I was in an appropriate location: standing on a patch of wasteland in Harehills, with a magnificent view over our beautiful city.
I was filled with a sense of gratitude for living here, and pride and responsibility for OUR city. I turned to my host, PC Ash, and shared my thoughts;
“Wow, look at our beautiful city.”
And it felt so pertinent, standing on a piece of wasteland in Harehills with another local who is more passionate about change for the better in Harehills than I am, to share that moment of gratitude for feeling a sense of belonging and pride in where I live.
PC Ash is an absolutely inspiring local bobby who has been a trailblazer in transforming this patch of wasteland – which he first came across whilst on the beat and was shocked by the abundance of discarded needles and trash on the area- into a community hub. So far he has succeeded in gathering volunteers to clear the land, import some portacabins, accessing electricity and water, and creating a youth centre, crèche, meeting space and even a small kitchen. When I visited last night, their efforts were certainly paying off: the youth club was in full swing and kids of all ages were enjoying the space, learning new skills and doing their homework together. They were safe, they were happy and they were creating community across cultural divides.
And there’s more. PC Ash and his incredible team of volunteers are planning on building more useable spaces on the site. The cost of moving a disused portacabin from Wakefield (this guy has contacts!) is about £30k. Is this putting him off his plans? Of course not. And what’s the plan for one of these new spaces? You guessed it – a cafe. And who has now solved the quandary of how to get toastlovecoffee finally off the ground? You guessed it….. Harehills here we come!