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January 18, 2021

What did 2020 look like for Neighbourhood Network, NET Garforth?

What does a year look like for one of Leeds Neighbourhood Networks? And, more interestingly, what did 2020 look like for NET Garforth, at the centre of supporting communities across Garforth and the 12 surrounding villages of Outer South Leeds.

Let’s find out:

January involved planning for the year ahead. There were many luncheon clubs and events on the books for people aged over 60 and any carers. It was going to be a busy year!

February saw all the usual late-winter groups, from Leg Club, physiotherapy and falls-prevention work, to Winter Warmth clubs and lots of partnership with health teams. Keeping members warm and safe was a priority, especially in the wild weather!

March started well, but mid-month saw NET Garforth contacting members with over 1000 telephone contact calls a day, and volunteers rolling up their sleeves and washing their hands. They started taking food to members and clapping for the NHS. Garforth Lions stepped up to help move the new food bank to bigger premises and keep delivering.

April meant continued work across the community. Staff and volunteers were missing face-to-face contact with members. NET Garforth was the local support for all the community, with their phone number shared widely and many more volunteers were allocated by the council.

May arrived along with the eighth week of lockdown. The team started a Just Giving page to keep the foodbank supporting people of all ages in the Garforth area. VE Day was not the big celebration planned, but the community did its best. The foodbank potato shortage was resolved with local business help. Phew!

June, the lockdown started to ease, but community food parcels, shopping runs and prescription collections continued. The council-managed volunteers went back to work as furloughs ended, but NET’s own volunteers helped deliver afternoon tea to luncheon club members. A few teething problems getting facemasks were solved by The Mobile Haberdashery team of home seamstresses.

July didn’t offer an afternoon of tennis with strawberries and cream, but NET volunteers delivered cream teas to luncheon club members! It was so popular that other groups joined in. Scone with jam and cream, anyone? At last the social distancing rules allowed volunteers to spend some much-needed time with clients.

August didn’t start with a Yorkshire Day celebration and they couldn’t mark Florence Nightingale Nurses Day as planned. There were still plenty of cream teas and food parcels to deliver.

September rolled around and the cream teas were still popular. Who doesn’t love afternoon tea? NET volunteers continued to be amazing.

October saw the days cooling and the nights lengthening, so cream teas became Heat ‘n’ Eat boxes, with sandwiches and soup. Cosy!

November without bonfire night was not a happy prospect, but the NET volunteers were busy anyway: Christmas was a-coming and there were goody bags to pack!

December started with the short lockdown and lots of uncertainty, but NET had over 1500 residents who were clinically vulnerable, isolated or frail. Move over reindeers, the NET elves were there to save the day with a Loving Kindness Gift from Santa!

A few facts to sum up the year:

  • 4482 food parcels delivered
  • 351 individual bespoke shopping trips carried out
  • 12 people having end of life supported by a member of the NET team
  • 382 prescriptions delivered
  • Seven volunteers regularly walking 15 dogs
  • 1100 Shine magazines from Time to Shine delivered across their community
  • 700 jigsaw puzzles taken to people
  • 1800 NHS leaflets delivered
  • 2000 Keeping well at home leaflets delivered
  • 1000 cream teas delivered (and eaten!)
  • 1500 Christmas goody bags delivered
  • 1000s of phone calls made by volunteers

And now a new year, a new lockdown and the community support continues. Wonder what they’ll get up to in 2021 – already this year NET Volunteers were out in difficult weather conditions supporting the NHS with the vaccine roll out.

Gillian Schofield
Time To Shine monitoring and evaluation assistant