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How Leeds' Getaway Girls is Empowering Girls and Young Women

Getaway Girls Illustration
January 2023
Reading time 2 Minutes

Girls just want to have fun...

Leeds’ Getaway Girls empowers girls and young women to support each other to build confidence, develop new skills and take positive risks. With a new base thanks to DIY SOS: The Big Build and BBC Children in Need, their future is looking bright.

Operations Manager Alia Nessa explains why the charity’s work is so important. ‘I’ve been with the charity for years now, but I was actually a Getaway Girl myself,’ she explains. ‘I started at 13 and kept in touch with the team over the years with campaigns and celebration events. I had my own children who also used the service and now I’m working with the organisation. It’s like a full-circle journey.

‘It was called Getaway Girls because it was all about getting women into outdoor education – things like rock climbing and abseiling. As the years have passed, there was a need for girls and women to take advantage of new activities, so the service has expanded over the last 35 years with various funding schemes and work with schools.’

Today, Getaway Girls have supported more than 13,500 young women to learn new skills and build resilience, and they remain flexible in what they offer. ‘We run structured programmes in schools around healthy relationships and we also do one-to-ones, some of which have been funded directly by Children in Need,’ Alia says. ‘Young women can face a lot of challenges so we work with them and get them where they need to be. Some simply come along to make the most of our half term activities – that might be trips to go ice skating, to the cinema or creating art. Some may come with a referral from a professional but it all depends on their individual circumstances.’

‘What we have now is incredible – the large group room, a one-to-one room, that multi-media suite, a crèche, the kitchens – and we never had a garden space, and that for me is the wow-factor for this building. The girls will make the most of this in summertime and hold celebration events outside'

Volunteers and businesses recently joined forces to help create a new building in Seacroft. The charity, which prides itself on making sure young women and girls in Leeds lead safe, healthy and fulfilled lives, has worked with Children in Need for more than a decade to provide safe spaces and it was the BBC's charity who awarded them the build with DIY SOS, with help from BBC Radio 2.

While the staff loved their previous base in Harehills, the charity had simply outgrown the building. ‘The girls here have lots of talents (music, podcasting) so we’ve got a multi-media room now,’ Alia says. ‘We were originally based in a terraced building, but as the organisation had grown, and Covid came, it was just too small and we were struggling to do what we really wanted to do so we were having to hire other spaces within the city.

Read More: Meet the Street Artists Which Are Transforming Tired Spaces in Yorkshire

‘What we have now is incredible – the large group room, a one-to-one room, that multi-media suite, a crèche, the kitchens – and we never had a garden space, and that for me is the wow-factor for this building. The girls will make the most of this in summertime and hold celebration events outside. We’re also going to host some horticultural wellbeing sessions and encourage the girls to grow their own food. It just opens up so many more opportunities.’

Alia is confident that thanks to this support and continued support from others the future of the charity looks bright. ‘What I love most about this is that we’re making a difference and an impact,’ she explains. ‘I have girls myself and I could see the change in them. I know how much I benefitted from Getaway Girls. Many of these girls are from a similar background and when they create a dialogue they start to connect. It’s all about feeling that there’s a safe space for you to have fun and have opportunities. We’ve just settled in and we’re getting lots of enquiries from local organisations as well as referrals. We want to expand our services and build on what we’re already doing in our safe space to inspire young people.’

To find out more about Getaway Girls, help and support their work, go to



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Join the first ever multi-charity sleepout at the Bradford Bulls Stadium. All sponsorship will be split between three West Yorkshire charities: Calderdale SmartMove (supporting homeless and vulnerable people throughout Calderdale), Focus4Hope (providing support for homeless, elderly, isolated and vulnerable people across West Yorkshire) and Homeless Not Hopeless (providing practical support to homeless people and those in need in the Bradford area). The event will start at 5pm, and entertainment will be provided throughout the evening as well as hot beverages.


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