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Student leads social sustainability

A Leeds University Masters student has led a consultation with a group of residents in Wyke about the future of a green space in their area.
L-R , Local resident Joanna Bielak, Gemma Lawson from the Incommunities sustainability team, Leeds University student Phoebe Hayes and Paul Forrest from the sustainability

Phoebe Hayes is currently coming to end of a 12-week work placement with Bradford housing provider Incommunities.

St Mary’s field is surrounded by houses on all sides and has previously been heavily fly tipped, overgrown and prone to antisocial behaviour, but is now destined to become a valuable resource for the local community.

Paul Forrest from the sustainability team at Incommunities, which owns the land, said: “People may not think about this piece of land in Wyke as something with sustainable value, but sustainability comes in lots of different forms. It doesn’t always have to be about big schemes with massive carbon impact.

“This project in Wyke is about social sustainability. We want everyone that lives near St. Mary’s field to have input in what they would like to see happen to this land. It’s about the community coming together to have a positive impact in the area where they live, whilst also expanding their social network. It’s been a real bonus that our placement student Phoebe has been able to lead on the project.

“We are delighted that Phoebe chose Incommunities for her placement, we have been lucky enough to have been selected by Leeds University Sustainability and Consultancy Masters students for the past three years.

“By offering a placement we get the benefit of fresh thinking and different viewpoints, whilst we hope the students get the opportunity to put their studies into practice in an organisational setting with strong social values.”

Speaking about her placement and the work she has been involved in, Phoebe Hayes, said: “There were over 100 companies who wanted to offer a placement opportunity to a student on my course. A lot of the companies were technically focused, but I wanted to specialise on social sustainability, as this is what I’m passionate about. That’s why the placement with Incommunities really appealed to me.

“The focus of my work has been how to involve and engage customers in sustainability work. Whether that is sustainability work that will be done on their home, or in the case of St. Mary’s field, it was about this piece of green space that is a huge part of their community.

“My placement has been great. I couldn’t have asked for better support from Paul. And it has been a privilege to be welcomed into people’s homes to hear their opinions and to see the real impact of social sustainability first hand.”

Incommunities has drafted an outline proposal for St. Mary’s field which they are sharing as part of the consultation. The consultation is open until 31st August, any residents living in the area surrounding St. Mary’s field are welcome to give their feedback by emailing or visit

Local resident, Joanna Bielak, said: “I’m really happy that something is going to happen to this piece of land. There are lots of young children living in the streets surrounding St. Mary’s field and there is nowhere safe for them to play because of the number of motorbikes driving around the streets.

“I have given my feedback to Incommunities that I would love to see the field cut back with some nice wide paths and space for the children to play.”

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