Headshot of Andrea Edwards

Andrea Edwards

Andrea Edwards, CEO of New Wortley Community Centre has been nominated by IWC member Josie Armitage. Josie says “I would like to thank Andrea – and Operations Manager Rebecca Houlding. Andrea and her team have made an outstanding contribution to the New Wortley and Armley by working tirelessly throughout the Covid-19 pandemic to support the whole community, particularly the vulnerable and socially isolated.

The centre has been a local community hub, co-ordinating and providing food parcels to the vulnerable and those in need, providing a hot meal delivery service for the elderly and those who can’t go out and packed lunches and activity packs for local schoolchildren.”

Andrea says “It’s been a challenging but rewarding experience responding to the needs of local people as a result of Covid-19.  The centre is like family to many of our service users and it was vital that we continued to support their health and wellbeing during a time when visiting the centre was no longer an option.”

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Who has she helped/who will she help?

“The centre works with the local community to come up with creative ideas including a Pen pal scheme for local schoolchildren and elderly people to make connections and recipe packs providing the ingredients to make hot meals.

They continue to do this working with groups within the community.  Recent activities include the women’s group making and selling face masks and an active Youth Board who are helping to look after the planters and are working towards their Level 2 Food Hygiene Certification.”

Andrea says “We have delivered hundreds of hot meals and food parcels and are a friendly voice at the end of the phone, not only for our regulars but also for Armley residents calling the helpline needing assistance with shopping and medication.”

What’s worked?

Josie says “Andrea and her team have gone above and beyond their day jobs to keep the support for the community going and making sure that all those who need support have received it. They have turned their hands to anything that needs doing to ensure this happens.

One example was sorting out fish and chips for our hot meal delivery service customers when they were let down by a local organisation for our hot meal service. They have arranged partnerships with organisations such as Fareshare for food supplies, Mecca Bingo for packed lunches, and donations from Morrison’s and local shops to help with the food parcels and activity packs.

They have been supported by a strong group of community volunteers throughout who have been delivering food parcels, medication, and shopping to those who have been shielding or are struggling financially.

I have personal experience of this as I volunteered every Thursday from April – August helping with the hot meals service. Andrea made me feel very welcome and part of the ‘Thursday Team’ and the hot meal delivery service.”

What have you learned? Any challenges?

Andrea says “We have changed our entire operating model as a result of the pandemic. More and more people have been dragged into poverty so our main response to this has been to work with a number of partners to address basic needs such as access to food, medication, hygiene products and clothing.  Every day is a challenge but we will continue to do this for as long as it is needed.”

What’s next?

Josie says “Andrea, Rebecca and the rest of the team will continue to support the local community, working with their community groups and trustees to come up with creative ideas and access funding to deliver these.  They have recently launched a Christmas campaign working with the Northern Gas Network to support 100 local families with Christmas lunch hampers, Christmas Eve boxes for children, activity packs, and Christmas tree and bauble sets.

Andrea says “We have recently launched our food re-distribution project whereby we will be re-distributing surplus food to other local organisations and food projects in our area.  We will also be announcing our membership of The Hygiene Bank network, ensuring local people have access to hygiene and cleaning products across West Leeds.”

What advice, contacts, or resources would help her?

Andrea says “We currently have an electric van on loan from Leeds City Council. Access to a van for the next 12 months would be the cherry on the cake for us so we can continue to support local people during these very difficult times.

If any businesses or individuals can provide support for their Christmas campaign or any West Leeds organisations or food projects would like to receive food to support them, please contact me or Rebecca.”

Why we’re sharing these stories

Each year, an individual or organisation from each of our five categories plus one exceptional judges’ choice individual is recognised at our annual Igniting Inspiration celebration event.

We publish each and every nomination to raise awareness of all the positive work that goes on in the North. While, this year, our physical event had to be deferred, our campaign to spread stories of positive social impact continues – good news is needed!