TRUE NORTH 2019 – STORIES OF HOLBECK

We are proud to be based in Holbeck. As a result, 45 of our employees spend their working lives here. Although most of them don’t hail from Holbeck, they would tell you that they’ve found a family in LS11 that goes beyond the 9 to 5. We’re incredibly proud of our internal Monk community. We work hard to ensure that our team is treated with respect and celebrated for their hard work. Looking out, we are on a journey of engaging more with the community around us, mirroring the values we live our internal work lives by, externally.

Part of this journey started in June 2018 when we sat down with Elissa and Matthew from Holbeck Elderly Aid over breakfast in St. Matthew’s Church. Their commitment to the people of Holbeck, and the humble approach to their vision for the area really resonated with us. We were moved by the Holbeck that Elissa and her team know. This is where the idea for last year’s ‘Humans of Holbeck’ calendar was born.

We provided disposable cameras for HEA’s clients to take pictures of their Holbeck. The photography part of this project is a big part of the drive behind it. We wanted to give Holbeck the chance to tell its own story, rather than the story that is so often told about it. There are some powerful and heart-warming memories here. The calendar was fully funded by Northern Monk, and all proceeds from the sale of the calendar were donated to HEA.

The feedback the project received was incredibly touching, and the impact of the project exceeded our expectations. To ask people to challenge their perceptions is a powerful thing, and we’re finally seeing the area celebrated. The people taking pictures are making new memories, whilst sharing old ones. It’s clear that the industry of the area is a huge part of its heritage, and has played a big part in the lives of so many residents. The positive parts of life in Holbeck are often hidden behind more media-grabbing negative issues, but like us, the people who live here are proud of the area and what it has to offer, and we now have a closer relationship with those around us.

“I read about the project in the paper and it just sounded really interesting. I walk past your offices every night and always wondered what you did. It’s not often you get to celebrate the local places you’re used to seeing everyday. And I even managed to buy it on my route home! I’d prefer St. Matthew’s to be up on my wall instead of some place I’ve never even been. I’m chuffed it was with Northern Monk too, keeping it local. They’ve got right tasty beer! Thanks to both of you I guess, the calendar looks great. I’ll put it on my wall with pride, it’s nice to have some positive local news for a change.”
– Mark, local resident

This year, we’re excited to be running the project again. We’ve already had some great photos, like the below image from Fiona Carmouche:

“Last summer whilst walking around Holbeck the strong sense of community hit me and, even though the area can be sometimes dangerous, it suddenly felt like one of the safest places on the planet.

Children of lots of different nationalities playing together in the sun, throwing water on each other out of an old bucket and chasing the ice cream van down the street. Washing hanging from house to house and a Muslim mum sharing a story with a Christian Dad whist sat on their doorsteps. Some of the richest people in the world have never even said hello to their neighbours.”

The photograph of St. Matthew’s Church at the top of the page was taken by a lady called Emily Ada King, who has lived in Holbeck for just over a year.

“I have been battling with various mental health issues since my early teens. When I feel stressed or overwhelmed I like to take walks sometimes with my dogs or just me and my music. I find in the evening it’s the best time, I go sit or walk in and around St. Matthew’s. This really helps me keep in the moment, and with the church being the heart of the community I feel that it’s a place that I feel safe and relaxed.”

A perspective from Holbeck Elderly Aid:

The calendar has been one of those exciting occasions where we could facilitate local people to collaborate directly with a local business to bring a project to life. Corporate Social Responsibility can take many forms, but we were all excited about local people taking the creative lead on a project that has such wide-ranging objectives. From elevating local voices, celebrating local stories and contributing to a positive narrative for Holbeck, to raising funds for local services and providing a local company with a targeted way to contribute, the project was ambitious from its inception. Really that’s been the pleasure of working with Northern Monk: they dream big and they’ve extended their sense of community far beyond their brewery walls.

Our relationship with Holbeck Elderly Aid continues to grow, we also support them with our Refectory Glassware initiative, and through volunteer hours. We’re both really proud of what we’ve created. Keep an eye on our social media channels to see a preview of the photographs that the Holbeck community are submitting, and to find out the launch date of the 2020 calendars.

If you’d like to submit a photograph of the Holbeck area for the project, please email the image along with your name, some information about the photos you’ve taken, and why they’re important to you, to myholbeckphotos@gmail.com.