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Ilkley Good Neighbours celebrates its 50th Birthday!

An Ilkley Good Neighbours Dales excursion

Ilkley Good Neighbours is about to celebrate a major event in its history – its 50th anniversary.  


For five decades the charity has helped thousands of older and vulnerable local people and has been a pioneer in making life that bit easier for those in need through its various projects, such as Shop Assist, Befriending, Moving On Friendship Group, and a number of other activities.


Marking the special occasion will be a Birthday Celebration at its upcoming Annual General Meeting, to be   held at the Clarke Foley Centre on July 10th to which a range of people associated with the charity have been invited.  Ilkley Good Neighbours is still interested in possibly inviting anyone who has had close links with their charity to let them know if they wish to attend, subject to space available – the details are at the end of the article.


Ilkley Good Neighbours was established shortly after a government scheme called “Become a Good Neighbour” was launched in 1973 aimed at helping older individuals who lived alone. The charity – its original name was Ilkley Council for Voluntary Services – established its constitution the following year and in the first 6 months had recruited some 70 volunteers and 120 clients. The first Chairman was the well-known local businessman Geoffrey De Vere MBE, and the President was The Baroness Lockwood.  By the end of 1974 the charity was doing well and was described by the Chairman as “an outstanding success that has become an essential part of the lives of many local people.”


With its office originally in South Hawksworth Street in Ilkley, it also had for a period a shop in Brook Street where donations from the public were sold. The shop later moved to the Wells Road, near the present day Friends of Ham restaurant, but later closed.


Over the years the charity became an increasingly important part of the community as it expanded from early beginnings to its current position today.  Overseeing the growing number of clients and volunteers is a highly committed team of Co-Ordinators and a Manager.


Apart from its normal projects, the charity also played an important role along with other groups in helping people in the community to cope during the Covid pandemic.  It is also currently exploring emerging areas of need, such as dementia awareness, and recently recruited a Dementia Advisor as part of its pilot Dementia Hub.


Ed Duguid, the current Chairman, said: “Ilkley Good Neighbours has undergone many changes over the years, but its ethos and aims have remained the same. We’ve achieved much in the last five decades and have always been there in the community with a helping hand for those less able.  Whether it’s assisting with shopping, organising an excursion to the Dales, or bringing people together in a friendship group, we will continue to offer our services in the years ahead.”


Those services are clearly appreciated by many of the clients.  One woman said: “My Befriender has really enhanced my life. She has become my best friend…we go to the theatre together and for walks.”


With Shop Assist a grateful person said: “I just want you to know how wonderful the volunteer has been with my dad. She does so much more than deliver shopping and always stays for a chat.”

Looking ahead, the charity is assessing what will be needed in terms of resources to continue with its various services.


“There is a real need today for charities such as Good Neighbours” said Ed.


“However, although grateful for the current support we get, we will need going forward to make every effort to raise additional funds in order to maintain the high standard of services that we provide for the community.  Taking our number 50, we are hoping to raise an additional £50,000 in this 50th birthday year in various ways which will be outlining.”


For further information on the charity – and details for the birthday event – the contact details are: goodneighboursilkley.org.uk or 01943 603348.

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