Garden party to mark Leeds OPAL's big plans

Members of an award-winning organisation which helps elderly people in Leeds enjoyed a garden party to mark the beginning of ambitious plans for its headquarters.

Date: 10th May 2018. Picture James Hardisty. OPAL Older People's Action in The Locality at the new Welcome In Community Centre, Bedford Drive, Tinshill, Leeds, formerly the Bedford Arms held an evening of celebration to launch the plans for the development of the grounds around the building. Pictured Leeds Rhinos players Liam Sutcliffe and Brett Delaney, with the Lord Mayor of Leeds Coun Jane Dowson, Ailsa Rhodes, Centre Manager, Isabel Swift, from Lemon Balm, and looking on supporters of the project.

Leeds Rhinos players Brett Delaney and Liam Sutcliffe attened OPAL’s Welcome In Centre along with Ronnie the Rhino yesterday afternoon.

Based at the former Bedford Arms pub in Tinshill, OPAL (Older People’s Action in the Locality) is a voluntary organisation set up in January 2002 to reduce isolation and to ensure that any person over 60 living within its catchment area can be safe, healthy and confident in their own home. It offers a range of services and activities including advice, information, advocacy, social and health activities and home support.

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It bought the “run-down” Bedford Drive pub in 2015 , but now wants to make it a place for people of all ages to spend time.

A crowdfunding project was launched last night in an effort to fund green space around the car park for members of the community to take part in planting, and for a children’s area inside. CEO Ailsa Rhodes said: “We want older people to be integrated and be a big part of their community. We don’t want to have them as a separate type of person.”

She said it can sometimes feel like young people and older people are “almost like a different species. They’re all people, some have just got a few more years behind them.”

Coun Jane Dowson, the Lord Mayor of Leeds, also attended the event alongside about 100 others.

In July 2015, it was announced OPAL won The Queens Award for Voluntary Service and was invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace.

Last year it was also awarded The Duke of York’s Community Initiative Award for the second time.

Mrs Rhodes said the crowdfunding web page can be seen at by searching “Welcome In Grounds Redesign”.