Council housing is Belle Isle is a bit different to rest of the city. Since the late 1980s it’s been managed by the tenants, first through the Belle Isle Estate Management Board and since 2004 by Belle Isle Tenant Management Organisation (BITMO).
The decision to be managed by BITMO rather the Council rests with the tenants. Ballots are held every five years, with 96% in favour of BITMO at the last ballot in 2019 (on a 48% turnout).
One impact of the tenant led board is a greater focus on providing community services to the people of Belle Isle. The Community Development Team work across a broad spectrum of projects from their base at the GATE Centre, or BITMO’s GATE.
With the Covid hiatus properly behind us now, BITMO’s GATE is once again a hive of activity. The centre is now open five days a week: Monday, Wednesday and Friday 9am-1pm; Tuesday and Thursday 1-7pm.
The team comprises Jo Wood and Tracey McGarry, managed by Peter Sutton and supported by Lisa Clarke.
BITMO’s GATE has always had a focus on employment and skills and you will find free access to computers with free wi-fi at all times, plus access to Digital Support and a beginner’s digital course. There is also support to access training and employment; help with CVs, job search and job applications. And the Educational Development Trust hold a drop in and appointments for young people aged 16–24 wanting training and employment advice.
BITMO’s response to the cost of living crisis has include evening opening as a designated Warm Space and free family hot meals every Tuesday and through the school holidays. These add to the long running pay what you can afford Friday hot breakfast. There’s also access to free winter coats and school uniform.
The team also run a range of groups and activities ranging from tea toast and craft mornings for pre-schoolers, free tutoring sessions for Year 3 and 4 pupils and family film shows; through to help to stop smoking, mental health themed craft sessions and MINT’s weekly men’s group.
There are many volunteering opportunities available, ranging from cooking and gardening to helping people get the most out of their phones and tablets. The GATE is also part of the Belle Isle litter picking library, so you can borrow bags and equipment to tidy the local environment.
If you have any questions or want to know more please contact either Peter, Tracey or Jo
Please note while services are provided the whole Belle Isle community, some can only be provided free to BITMO tenants.
Photo: BITMO’s Community Development Team: Jo Wood, Tracey McGarry, Peter Sutton and Lisa Clarke
Whilst you’re here, can we ask a favour?
South Leeds Life is published by a not-for-profit social enterprise. We keep our costs as low as possible but we’ve been hit by increases in the print costs for our monthly newspaper – up 83% this year.
Could you help support local community news by making a one off donation, or even better taking out a supporters subscription?
Donate here, or sign up for a subscription at bit.ly/SLLsubscribe