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From London Commutes to Yorkshire Sustainability: A Journey with University of Leeds Conferences and Events
Before joining the team earlier this year, our Business Development Manager (Conferences and Events) – Chelsea Rolfe, spent several years living and working in London. Since re-locating to Yorkshire in 2020, she’s been enjoying the picturesque daily commute and the benefits this lifestyle brings. She’s also been impressed by the great strides taken to champion sustainability across the region, city, and the University of Leeds as a responsible organisation.
What do you consider the biggest advantages of commuting by public transport?
In London, I nearly always used public transport rather than driving, as most people do, because it’s the quickest and most cost-effective way to travel. Although, the experience of commuting up here could not be more different! From squeezing into packed Underground carriages, to whizzing through the beautiful rolling hills of West Yorkshire – it’s certainly been a very welcome change! I live in Ilkley, so my commute to the University is 30 minutes each way and that time is valuable to me. It’s a chance to catch-up on work if needed, read, get organised for upcoming tasks, focus on the day ahead or decompress at the end of a busy one. And all the while I get to enjoy the spectacular view.
Sadly, I think since the pandemic, many people remain apprehensive about re-embracing the commuter life, preferring to drive more places now or work from home more frequently. This is a shame, as in my opinion, taking public transport to a place of work gives you a greater work/life balance and is of course kinder to the environment.
What are the options for public travel around Leeds?
One of the many fantastic things about the city is how compact it is. There really is little need to drive anywhere. Everything is accessible either on foot, or by the very well-connected train and bus networks.
The new Leeds City Bikes scheme has 650 electric bikes available for public use citywide and is the UK’s first fully electric public bike hire service. It’s such an exciting development for the region and gives delegates attending events in the city, even more choice of how to explore all that it has to offer.
Cloth Hall Court – the latest addition to our venue hire portfolio, is just a stone’s throw from Leeds Railway Station, so travel by public transport couldn’t be easier. In preparation for the e-bike scheme rollout, there’s been a lot more pedestrian zoning across the city. The walk across the road from the station to Cloth Hall Court is a fully pedestrianised area. From there, it’s also just a short walk (or e-bike ride) to our main campus.
This was one of the reasons why the organisers of the inaugural Yorkshire Sustainability Week (YSW) chose Cloth Hall Court for their flagship Yorkshire Sustainability Conference. In July, we welcomed 1,200, over two days of keynote sessions, panels, focused talks from industry leaders, an exhibition and networking. The University of Leeds is proud to be a headline sponsor for this game-changing festival of events.
In keeping with the region’s efforts to improve sustainability and promote responsible lifestyle options, how does University of Leeds Conferences and Events champion this?
In support of the wider University’s Climate Plan, our whole team is committed to taking an environmentally friendly approach to delivering events. Every aspect of events design and logistics is carefully considered and we always strive to find sustainable solutions, to minimise the impact on the climate wherever possible. Our progress with this has been recognised under the travel and hospitality sector’s global Green Tourism scheme, which has seen several of our venues awarded the Gold standard.
We are currently producing a Sustainability guide for all delegates attending events at the University. While we fully understand what we must undertake to operate as a responsible venue, we also advocate to empower planners and delegates to be more sustainably-minded in their decisions. This pack will cover recommendations for everything from delegate travel into and around the city, to the digitisation of event materials to eliminate single-use wastage.
One of the first events to take place when Cloth Hall Court launched in April, was the AFN Network+ “Big Tent Event”. Funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), AFN Network+ connects key thinkers, leaders and stakeholders, to drive the food and farming system towards a net zero UK by 2050. We hosted a two-day conference featuring a varied programme of plenaries, panels and workshops. An important part of the brief was for the catering to be as sustainable as possible. To help achieve this, our catering team provided sourcing information for all food items and created a bespoke menu especially for the event. They ensured that the food was mostly vegan/plant based, with less of a focus on meat, and sourced some organic chicken via a local supplier.
To find out more, arrange a site visit or discuss your specific requirements for your next event, contact University of Leeds Conferences and Events:
Telephone: 0113 343 6100