The Ridings Shopping Centre Remains at The Heart of The Community.

2nd April 2023

Zahid Iqbal, the new owner of The Ridings Centre hasconfirmed his commitment to both the partnership with The Art House’s Makey Wakey initiatives and to all other local charities and community groups who benefit from free space in the centre.

Numerous, local charities and groups benefit from free space on the mall itself, including AgeUK Wakefield, Wakefield District Sight Aid, Gasped – men’s mental health, Cancer Research and Wakefield Deaf organisation to name a few.

Hayley Grocock, Chief Executive Officer, of Wakefield District Sight Aid commented When we were able to restart our face-to-face activities again after Covid, we were looking for somewhere where our blind and partially sighted service users would feel safe and welcomed. Our partnership with The Ridings has enabled us to not only restart our outreach programme but to attract more visitors than ever before. We now run two very successful monthly coffee mornings from The Ridings and other events too like our Living Well with Sight Loss courses and Equipment Demonstration and Advice Days. These events really do make a huge difference to people’s lives and we’re so grateful to our colleagues at The Ridings for supporting our work and helping us increase the impact of what we do.”

Judith Caulkin (Mrs) said “…As Secretary of The Pontefract Fundraising Branch of The Cystic Fibrosis Trust, I would like to express my profound gratitude on behalf of all our members to The Ridings, Wakefield, Team of staff. From the friendly and sincere Marketing Manager, Craig Higgins, down to the floor staff, who are all so helpful and kind whenever we ask for any assistance. Craig is always so positive and supportive and always responds straight away at the end of the telephone or in an email each time I have asked for regular stalls over the last three years, to enable us to raise money for research into the causes of CF which cruelly takes children’s lives every year. All the money we raise through our branch goes directly into funding research to try to find a complete cure for the UK’s most common life-threatening disease and to produce improved medication for all CF sufferers to keep them alive while a cure can be found. We have never taken out any expenses, with everything being a profit for the benefit of our charity. This was also pleasing to us to be a stipulation which Craig informed me about the first time I approached him. We have raised hundreds of pounds extra towards our goal thanks to the kind generosity of The Riding’s programme for free space to support charity and we are so very grateful for the chance to be able to return with confidence year after year to use the warm and pleasant surroundings of this delightful venue to achieve our imperative goal in life. 

Jade, Miss Unique Majorettes, commented “… by the centre allowing Miss Unique Majorettes to use the space, it has provided us so many opportunities to raise much-needed funds for our troupe, which we wouldn’t have had! We have also benefitted in many other ways such as recruiting new team members and having opportunities to participate in other events by spectators in the crowd. Most of all, it has helped us keep our children and young adults off the streets, keep them fit and healthy and helped develop their confidence and team-building skills too – which is what we need!

At present 29 organisations benefit from free space shop units under the Makey Wakey scheme, which is a partnership between The Ridings Centre and The Art house and is a scheme built on free rent on, a temporary, short-notice basis, agreed by all parties.

Sydney Thornbury, CEO, of The Art House, commented Over the last five years, Makey Wakey has provided free space to 157 different artists, social entrepreneurs, CICs, charities and community organisations who have all used the opportunity of free space to pilot and develop their work and to have a beneficial impact on thousands of people in the Wakefield community.”

Mr Iqbal said: I love the fact that the centre is used by so many local community groups and businesses, I’m delighted to be continuing our partnership with The Art House in providing free rent units in the centre for those who need them alongside our ever-growing retail proposition.

Recently two users of the Makey Wakey scheme have been relocated to make way for new independent businesses wanting to come into the scheme on a fixed long-term lease, however, Mr Iqbal is also realistic that he may not be able to relocate all the Makey Wakey businesses and added, that recently he had offered two different units, that he felt were suitable to a business on the same free rental terms, but these were deemed unsuitable, so, unfortunately, it does seem that that business will be leaving the centre, but hopefully staying in the city centre. He did say that he hoped this was an anomaly and not the norm.

Sydney Thornbury, CEO, of The Art House “We are working closely with Mr Iqbal and with all our Makey Wakey organisations to try to make this transition period as supportive and positive as possible.  Mr Iqbal has gone out of his way to find alternative spaces for as many Makey Wakey organisations as possible.  He has also offered very favourable rental terms to those who are ready to make the leap into renting their own shops – a leap we strongly support CICs to do if they can.”

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