Groundwork was established over three decades ago as a radical experiment to bring together communities, businesses and government in a joint effort to improve the quality of life and promote sustainable development in places that had become run-down and neglected.
In late 1986 the South Leeds Groundwork Trust was born. A registered charity, its mission was to improve the quality of life for people in south Leeds by working with local people, schools and businesses. Our founding Chairman was Lord Merlyn-Rees and our two company members were (and remain) Groundwork UK and Leeds City Council.
Originally based in offices on Great George Street in Leeds city centre, Groundwork Leeds began with a handful of staff (with several seconded from Leeds City Council) led by our first Executive Director John Howden. The Trust purchased the old Wesley Street Mill in Morley in 1987. Having lain derelict for 15 years we restored the mill, converted it into offices, and – in true eco-friendly style - furnished it with an array of second hand desks.
Since then we've continued to champion local environmental regeneration and maintained our work with unemployed young people. Our portfolio has expanded to include outdoor education, energy and resource efficiency advice for residents and businesses, food growing, youth work, climate change awareness, and volunteering - to name but a few. We've worked on projects large and small, indoors and outdoors, with large groups and individuals, and people of all ages.
In 2003 we expanded our charitable area to cover the whole of Leeds and now also work in Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees.
Now, as then, we are taking practical steps and building partnerships to change places and change lives.
Let's make history together.