Young people give back at Christmas

Young people working with City of York Council’s Youth Justice Service are supporting a charity project which allows them to give back to the community.

Selby-based charity Spirit of Christmas is organising its fifth Christmas party in York for children whose families are suffering financial hardship.

Acting as ambassadors for the charity and working alongside their supervisors, the team of young people are wrapping gifts for the event and which have been selected to match the children’s ‘wish lists’.

The team is also decorating the venue including transforming one of the rooms into Santa’s grotto, and then helping host and run the party for 120 guests.

Besides introducing Father Christmas to the guests, each will have a snack box, enjoy music and games, dancing elves and access to a free book stall where children can take as many books as they like books to encourage reading.

Amanda Hatton, corporate director of children, education and communities at City of York Council, said: “Reparation is so important to our youth justice work and gives young people who have offended in the past an opportunity to make amends in a constructive and lasting way.

“This is a very worthwhile project, and I hope the rewards of helping disadvantaged children and their families will make Christmas all the more special.”

Ronnie Munro, chair of Spirit of Christmas, said: “We try to recruit volunteers from all backgrounds, give them a sense of belonging to our group and the wider community, and help them feel that they are respected and appreciated.

“The efforts of the young people will, I’m sure, help them to feel good about doing something for others.”

Anyone interested in supporting the project can contact Spirit of Christmas at

Young volunteers deck the halls at Glen Lodge

An award-winning partnership between youth homeless charity SASH and the council have helped older residents deck the halls at Glen Lodge.

Glen Lodge

The Enable team was at the council-run Heworth independent living scheme on 28 November, when they provided and hung the Christmas decorations. This is the third session which Enable has completed at Glen Lodge this year: in the spring they redecorated a tenant’s flat and gave an area of the communal garden a makeover in the summer.

While carrying out the garden project the older tenants told the young volunteers how much they all loved Christmas, but getting the decorations up was a massive task. Following this the young people asked if they could help, Christmas decorations were sourced by the council and the team trimmed Christmas trees, played seasonal music and got into the festive mood with residents and staff.

This month’s makeover is the latest of 27 different projects carried out by the Enable team which consists of young people and colleagues from the youth homeless charity SASH, and City of York Council housing experts. The scheme was developed to improve the lives of younger and older people in York and in 2018 it won the Best Community Project at the York Community Pride Awards.

Over the past five years, young volunteers have given their time to help older people in York who struggle with jobs around the home and garden. In return they have learned new skills which will come in handy when they live in a place of their own.

Gary Hogg, SASH active project coordinator, said: “Enable’s projects have made a real and lasting difference to the lives of older people in York. The young people have made friends, spend time with older people, learned new skills and, perhaps most importantly, have seen first-hand just how much difference they can make to the lives of others.

“With this project, not only have they got Glen Lodge looking a treat for the festive season, but they’ve shared mince pies and some Christmas cheer with the tenants.”

Tom Brittain, assistant director of housing and community safety at City of York Council, said: “Our Enable project aims to give younger people a meaningful experience with home maintenance to help ensure that any tenancy they take on is a lasting success.

“We also want older people to benefit from their skills and enjoy their company. Thank you to everyone involved.”

Bad week for congestion in York

There has been a lot of congestion in York over the last week or so.  With many visitors coming for the Christmas markets and the “Winter Wonderland” the influx is potentially good news for the local economy.

But transport systems have capacity limits and these were reached at times with the Designer Centre car parks effectively full and Park and Ride services compromised.

Queues at the hospital car park have caused delays on bus services while even cyclists have found it difficult to find vacant City centre cycle racks.

Lenin addresses people waiting in a Waitrose queue?

Add in the arrival of General Election campaigners eager to be filmed with a backdrop of crowds of people and the new security barriers, which hinder movement in areas like St Helen’s Square, and things have turned decidedly awkward even for pedestrians.

So, what’s to be done?

We have criticised the Council before about its failure to utilise modern technology to ease travel woes. The real time parking space availability map was removed from their web site last year.

Many of the parking space availability signs which can be seen on arterial roads didn’t work for a long time.

On line site parking space availability web site abandoned by York Council

 A promised link through GPS to car navigation systems – which would help to direct vehicles to car parks where there were spaces – has not materialised.

As a result, vehicles still circle the City looking for spaces, which sometimes don’t exist, adding to congestion and pollution levels.

The York Council needs to raise its game.

On busy days, it should be tweeting updates on at least an hourly basis. Variable message signs on approach roads should be similarly updated. Local Radio has a part to play.

It would be relatively easy to add a CCTV link displaying the conditions at key locations to the Council web site. North Yorkshire already do this (albeit mainly to provide information on road conditions)

Modern problems need modern solutions.

Sadly at the moment there seems to be little sign of urgency at West Offices on the need to further improve traffic management in the City.

Give them a break!

Many public service workers will be on duty over the festive period.  Inevitably the services of the Police, Council workers and health professionals will be required by some members of society.

However we can all help to reduce the pressures on public services with a little forethought and consideration

Vandalised car seats in Cornlands Road garage area.

Litter on Cornlands park

Trolley dumped in little Green Lane parking area

Abandoned bike chained to Indoor bowling club railings

Vandalised house sale sign

Full litter bin

Litter near Foxwood shops. (Residents undertook a litter pick near the bus shelter yesterday)

Christmas Eve and Day services at York Minster

Dec _24Minster

York Minster :

Mon 24 & Tue 25 Dec :

Various Times :



Experience Christmas Eve and Day at York Minster with our traditional services.

Christmas Eve – Monday 24 December

12noon: Crib Service – Traditional and popular family service.

4pm: Nine Lessons and Carols (doors 3pm please arrive in good time)

11.30pm: First Eucharist of Christmas:

Christmas Day – Tuesday 25 December

8am: Holy Communion

10am: Sung Eucharist of Christmas Day (doors 9.15am)

11.45am: Christmas Day Choral Matins

4pm: Christmas Day Choral Evensong

All services are free and un- ticketed. All Advent & Christmas at

Universal Credit payments may affect York residents over Christmas

City of York Council is advising York residents to be aware of Universal Credit payment changes ahead of the festive period.

Universal Credit is handled by the Department for Work and Pensions to help people on a low income or not in work, meet their living costs. It combines six benefits, including housing benefit and working tax credit, into a single monthly payment.

If you are in employment whilst claiming Universal Credit and receive your wage early in December, you may find your next Universal Credit (UC) payment is reduced. This may leave you short of money over the Christmas period.

If you receive two wage payments during your UC assessment period this will reduce the amount of UC you will receive for that period, and depending on personal earnings, may not receive any UC payment.

This may mean that wage payments are less in the following assessment period and UC will be higher for that next assessment period.

If you are new to Universal Credit you may not receive your first payment until January 2019.  You can apply for an Advanced Payment to tide you over, through your online account, your work coach or the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644. If you this will mean you are unable to pay your rent then please contact your landlord.

If you are unsure when your UC payments will be made, make sure you organise your finances to ensure this doesn’t cause you issues over the holidays. For more information, visit:

Councillor Ian Gillies, Leader of City of York Council, said: “Universal Credit payments are normally made in arrears once at the end of the month, rather than being paid every week. However, many York residents will be unaware.

“This is why we are encouraging people who receive UC to be prepared by looking into the festive holiday payment plan.”

Councillor Carol Runciman, executive member for adult social care and health, said: “I would strongly urge anyone in receipt of Universal Credit to double check their upcoming payment dates, so they are not caught out in the New Year.”

“More importantly, if anyone is concerned about their Universal Credit payments, please call 01904 552044 for help and advice.”

Payment dates for Universal Credit:

Universal Credit customers will receive their December payment within their usual payment period. Payments will not be delayed due to the Christmas and New Year public holidays.

Universal Credit payment is due on… Universal Credit will be paid on…
Saturday 22 December Friday 21 December
Sunday 23 December Friday 21 December
Monday 24 December Monday 24 December
Tuesday 25 December Monday 24 December
Wednesday 26 December Monday 24 December
Tuesday 1 January Monday 31 December
Saturday 5 January Friday 4 January
Sunday 6 January Friday 4 January

Payment dates for all other benefits

Customer’s payment is due on… Customer will be paid on…
Monday 24 December Friday 21 December
Tuesday 25 December Friday 21 December
Wednesday 26 December Friday 21 December
Tuesday 1 January Monday 31 December
Wednesday 2 January Monday 31 December,

apart from ESA, JSA and IScustomers in England and Wales – they will be paid on 2 January


Please note that the information on GOV.UK for payments due on 2 January is currently incorrect and is in the process of being updated

Christmas concerts off to a good start in York

We’re into the Christmas concert season now. The Yorkshire Volunteers brass band entertained at the Merchant Adventurers Hall on Friday. They will be returning to the City on Thursday and Friday evening when they will participate in the very popular Minster carol concerts. The Minster hosted the annual performance of The Messiah yesterday with the orchestra, choir and soloists receiving a standing ovation