In 2014 we found and renovated a listed mill building in Holbeck, an area that sits just outside the centre of Leeds. The Old Flax Store has been our home ever since. In 2017 we moved into our second Holbeck site that houses our main production facility, and upon needing more capacity, we expanded into the unit next door a year later, which is now our cold store. We know that we’re operating from one of the most deprived areas of the UK, but we’re determined to do what we can to change perceptions of Holbeck, and this starts with doing what we can to celebrate the vibrant community around us.

We’ve been working with Holbeck Together (previously Holbeck Elderly Aid) on this year’s iteration of the True North calendar project since June. Last year we provided members of the Holbeck community with disposable cameras so they could take their own photos for the calendar. This year, we’ve taken a different approach. When we sat down with Holbeck Together to discuss the 2020 project, we knew our main focus for this year’s calendar wasn’t just imagery. We wanted to put a greater focus on telling the stories of the people of Holbeck, allowing people to see the bigger picture. We contacted friend of the business and Northern Monk Patron, Mark Newton, and asked him to photograph the people of our community for the calendar.

Mark spent some time with Elissa, Bryony and the Holbeck Together team in September and took some great portraits of people in Holbeck, to sit alongside the stories and memories that accompany each one. We then took all of the photography and information and created a calendar that we couldn’t be prouder of. The finished product is an authentic snapshot of a moment in time here, reflecting on the narratives of the people within our community.

“I came back to Leeds to care for my granddad, and then I took on Cath as well. I used to bring her down to HEA and that’s how I got involved. I got talking to Roy and he got me to volunteer on the bus. So I started as passenger assistant and then did the first Kids Club, and then started in the kitchen with chef. I seen a programme about people in a care home and young kids mixing, and I just saw the joy that the mixture of ages could bring and how it could change both. I wanted to do something like that and that was the start of Kids Club. It was lovely, the older people were listening to the kids and then explaining how it had been for them, and the kids really enjoyed it. It were challenging, but it was rewarding seeing people leaving happy. Volunteering gets me out and gives me a bit of work experience. I’ve got 3 kids and I’ve been a mum for 12 years and haven’t really done ought for me you know what I mean, and now volunteering here has helped me find Nikki again. You know, something for me. Like, volunteering at Sunday lunch is one of my favourite things to do, I love it, it’s calming. It gives me a bit of me back, not just Nikki the mum – Nikki the person.”

Nikki Hayes, Holbeck Resident and Holbeck Together volunteer

We will be launching this year’s calendar on 19th November 2019 at the Old Flax Store. We’d love for you to join us from 6pm in the Chapter Hall to celebrate this collaboration between Northern Monk, Holbeck Together, and the wider Holbeck community.

On the night we’ll also be displaying photography taken by people in the community to celebrate the second year of the project. After the event, this exhibition will be moved to St. Matthews and curated by Holbeck Together.

The calendars will be on sale at the launch event, and 100% of the proceeds will be donated to Holbeck Together who do incredible work in our local community. You can read more about their mission here

After the launch the calendars will be available for sale on our webshop and at Northern Monk Refectory LDS. If you’re a local business and would be interested in stocking the calendars, please get in touch with us via

Thank you for your ongoing support of Northern Monk and our community projects. We hope to see you on the 19th.