Moortown Furniture Store was created in 1986 by a group of dedicated volunteers from Moortown Baptist Church, Leeds, who in the course of their work came into contact with people who had little basic furniture. Aware that good second-hand furniture was often going to waste, they began to collect and re-distribute those items, often in their car boots before progressing on to using a horsebox! Initially the work was undertaken from a variety of buildings, a church hall, the basement of an empty house and the organiser’s cellar, all of which were temporary and most of which were too small.
Meanwhile, the Leeds Furniture Store, managed by representatives of the West Yorkshire Probation Service and other organisations, including the Leeds Shaftesbury Project (re-housing homeless people) and D.I.A.L (Disablement Information and Advice Line) provided a similar sort of service. In March 1989 they ceased operating independently and the two stores started working together with a joint management committee. Their formal amalgamation and registration as a charity took place on October 1989; subsequently the new Leeds and Moortown Furniture Store became a company limited by guarantee in July 1997.
In April 2001 The Leeds and Moortown Furniture Store moved to larger premises in Burley; the cost of the purchase being funded by the National Lottery Charities Board. However, in November 2009 the Store was on the move again this time to its present home – a 10,000 sq ft warehouse in Seacroft.
It goes without saying that over the course of the last half century the furniture store has witnessed many many changes. Sadly, however, one thing that has remained constant is the often very acute need for its services.
Throughout the whole of this time the charity’s board of trustees has striven to do everything in its power to ensure that socially and economically disadvantaged individuals and families have been provided with some of the most basic items of household furniture. This has involved a number of new and innovative projects. One such initiative was the setting up in 2000 of a wholly owned subsidiary that now sources and sells new furniture, furnishings and white-goods to a whole raft of social housing schemes.
A much more recent example is the Store’s decision to work alongside another Leeds charity, St George’s Crypt, by passing on still usable but unsuitable items of furniture for St George’s to sell in their charity shops.
As the Leeds and Moortown Furniture Store enters its twenty eighth year of operations its trustees are determined to continue seeking and developing new funding streams. For example, right now, they are carrying out a feasibility study surrounding the fitting of solar panels to the charity’s warehouse as well as weighing up the pros and cons of a currently “top secret” project which would again involve L&MFS collaborating with another well established charity.