In 1993 the four churches in Garforth established a group to look at local services in the community to see if there were any specific needs of local people.
What became apparent was the number of older people living on their own and who for a variety of reasons were confined to their homes. Many of the people expressed the feeling that they felt lonely and isolated from the community.
As a result a befriending service was established where volunteers would visit older people in their own homes, have a cup of tea and keep them informed of what was happening in the local community.
During the financial year 1994 - 1995 the group applied for and obtained funding to progress the formation of The Neighbourhood Elders Team.
By June 1995 a management committee was established and a project worker employed. A support worker and an outreach worker were employed shortly after giving a full time paid staff of three.
Befriending in the Garforth area was always the main activity and that expanded to cover 11 villages of East Leeds.
By 2000 demand had steadily increased and the diverse nature of the work became apparent to the churches. It was then decided that The Neighbourhood Elders Team should become a charity in its own right. This was achieved in July 2001.
Many changes occurred in 2005. The two villages of Barwick in Elmet and Scholes, who never had access to neighbourhood schemes joined us, a new management committee were enrolled and we moved from 27 Main Street Garforth to 62c Main Street. A high point was the 10th. Anniversary celebration of the organisation in September at the Leeds Civic Hall.
Funding the organisation is always a problem and this became increasingly difficult during 2005 / 2006 with lottery funding for the volunteer coordinator expiring. But by cutting back on working hours and the perseverance in seeking funding NET maintained its services to the community.
In 2008 the way Leeds City council funded Neighbourhood schemes changed. All schemes had to tender for funds to ensure they gave value for money. This lengthy process, the same as tendering for any commercial contract with the council was undertaken by NET Staff.
The hard work paid off and NET were awarded the contract without any caveats. This contract only partly covers NET's operating costs and funding still remains a constant worry.
Since 2007 Volunteer and client numbers have increased 4 fold as the number of events and activities have continued to increase. In 2007 Decafeast was set up to involve those with memory problems and their carers. The interaction between all who attend has become a “Flagship” venture appreciated by all including the medical profession.
In June 2013 NET obtained larger premises in Dover Street Garforth and fully refurbished the interior of the purpose built building. The move was completed in August and the new season of events started at the beginning of September 2013. The building was purpose built to accommodate the older members of our community and as such has all facilities on one level. The large rooms allow us to accommodate more clients and volunteers, with more events in comfort.
Our plans are many. We will develop the very best services we can and will use a range of activities to help deliver them to as many people as possible. We will involve local people in evaluating services provided and in planning new ones. We will always try to build on our existing success as much as possible with the continuing support of volunteers and hard work of the staff team. With their dedication we will maintain the high quality service that is respected throughout our community.