Staying connected really matters for us all, now more than ever. It’s important that everyone can find out what support is available and have easy ways of keeping in touch. But not everyone has access to the internet to help with this, and not everyone feels confident using digital ways of communicating. We want to work out how, between us, we can best help with that.
Kirklees Council are working to find ways of supporting people, by removing any barriers to accessing the internet. This may be through providing IT devices. But it’s also important that we find ways of supporting people in using, or starting to use, digital technology.
Mutual Aid Groups and community organisations are incredibly well placed to support this project as you know the neighbourhoods and people in the areas where you live and work. So we are hoping that you might be able to work with us to develop this offer.
Volunteers in your group might be able to support others with growing their digital skills and confidence. This might include helping people to get started with using a digital device, connecting with family or friends, doing online shopping or accessing advice and services online. Or you might be part of an organisation who could share smartphones, tablets or other devices with people in our local places.
Together we can have a fantastically positive effect in increasing connectivity in our communities during Covid-19, but also as we move past the pandemic into the future.
If you’re interesting in taking part, please contact your nearest Anchor organisation to talk through how you’d like to get involved. This will help us to work out what we can do between us, and to develop the project together.
If you have any questions, you can also leave a reply on this page.
Guide Dogs have put together some suggestions about basic communication principles to consider when you’re interacting with people who have sight loss. This doesn’t replace or override general guidance or policies about supporting people during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The advice is intended to support those who are working or volunteering with blind and partially sighted people for the first time.
You can read these suggestions on the Guide Dogs website:
Kirklees Libraries have curated some reading collections in honour of Mental Health Awareness Week (18th to 24th May). Check out this collection of specially selected fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Whether you want to find a book to help you or others through these difficult times, an uplifting story or a poem that resonates, you may just find what you’re looking for…
The Befriending Partnership are helping to tackle isolation through a telephone service set up to support older people and vulnerable adults, as part of the community response during the coronavirus lockdown.
Volunteers who give their time to the Befriending Partnership are matched with citizens who are known to the organisations as needing contact, to make sure they are okay in their homes and to help reduce feelings of isolation.
The telephone befriending service is led by Community Connections at the Yorkshire Children’s Centre and Age UK Calderdale & Kirklees.
We spoke to Christine Rhodes, Service Manager for Community Connections, about how people have been making connections and helping each other during lockdown.
“In the last few weeks we have seen our volunteer numbers grow to 90, and we have made 56 matches to those who need befriending phone calls. Our volunteers spend between 2 to 4 hours a week on calls with vulnerable or isolated people. We try and match people with similar interests and in the same local areas, with the hope they will carry on befriending afterwards, hopefully face to face.
“Of the 90 volunteers we have at the moment, around 35 have been forwarded from Kirklees Council’s call for volunteers and from staff that have been furloughed from elsewhere. The other volunteers have come in from all areas and walks of life.
“Referrals for the service come in from the Covid-19 Community Response team, from the community anchor organisations network and also now from the mutual aid groups who are doing brilliant work all over Kirklees.”
The volunteers not only phone people to have a friendly chat, but also receive training from the Befriending Partnership to help identify if someone needs other kinds of support.
Christine told us that, until recently, one person was getting their shopping delivered. The volunteer identified that this had stopped and was able to feedback this information via a new app the Befriending Service are using. This resulted in a referral being made, making sure that the person received the essential supplies they needed.
The service continues to grow and more people are being welcomed to volunteer. We know there are many compassionate people in Kirklees who are keen to offer friendly phone calls to others. We’ve asked the people who have volunteered to offer this kind of support via our Covid-19 Community Response whether we can share their details with the Befriending Partnership.
We’re delighted to say that this has already resulted in a surge of new volunteers. Training is provided for all volunteers and enhanced ID checks are carried out routinely to make sure we are keeping vulnerable people safe.
“The Befriending Service is very important and is still growing. We know this is true of other support services too. We’re very supportive of the Mutual Aid Group network and the amazing work they’re doing too. It’s all about making sure vulnerable people don’t fall through the gaps and we’re doing all we can.
“I hope the volunteers signed up to the Befriending Service now, will continue to volunteer when we come out of the other side. And I hope those volunteering elsewhere in their communities continue as well.”
If you, or someone you know, would like telephone befriending support please let us know via our Covid-19 Community Response online form, or call our Freephone helpline: 0800 4561114.
Find out more about the Befriending Partnership
There are five organisations involved in the wider Befriending Partnership in Kirklees. During the Covid-19 Community Response, the specific telephone befriending service has been set up by the Yorkshire Children’s Centre and Age UK Calderdale & Kirklees. They are also working closely with the Royal Voluntary Service and some of the volunteers have been matched with people on their waiting lists too.
People Helping People is a local network run from Third Sector Leaders for small community organisations across Kirklees.
They will be hosting a virtual meeting on Thursday 21st May 2020 from 1.30pm to 2.30pm for community groups and organisations to get together, meet each other, share what you are doing and learn what others are doing. It will be a good opportunity for you to learn about funding opportunities, share best practice and discuss how you might be able to support each other.
How to take part
The meeting will take place on Microsoft Teams. Please book a place and you will be sent details of how to join the meeting nearer the time. You don’t need a Microsoft account and you won’t need a special app or to login.
We know that many people in our community will continue to need support in accessing food as the lockdown is lifted. We also want to make sure that the support network we have built together remains sustainable as we gradually move past Covid-19. So we are developing a Kirklees Food Network to connect everyone.
If you’re currently providing a food offer to support vulnerable people through your Mutual Aid Group or local organisation and would like to be part of the Kirklees Food Network, we’d like to hear form you. Your food offer might be either food parcels, food donations, a food bank or hot food.
This is an informal support network where you will:
Have support in your local place from one of the 3 main foodbanks across Kirklees – The Welcome Centre in Huddersfield, Fusion in Dewsbury or Batley Foodbank.
Be signposted to further support for the people you’re helping.
Access support, guidance and advice around local welfare provision, food safety, safeguarding, housing and other essential policies.
Share good practice and ensure any gaps in provision are highlighted.
Access support from Councillors, Kirklees Council staff and other local community organisations.
Help to ensure our food offer is stable beyond Covid-19.
Join the network
If you would like to access this support, and be part of the network, please send an email to email@example.com or contact Rebecca Strutt, Transformation Project Manager directly on 07790 349978. Thank you.
Platform 1 are a local men’s health and addiction charity working with men who have lived in isolation due to their illness. During the coronavirus lockdown they are playing their part by reaching out to even more isolated and vulnerable people, including women and the elderly.
Through their bike repair scheme, Platform 1 have been loaning bikes to NHS staff and other key workers who normally rely on public transport, so they can get to work.
Such has been the demand of their bicycle offer they are now struggling to provide any more bikes to key workers who need them.
Platform 1 urgently require donations of bikes, so they can continue to provide this service.
Other services that Platform 1 have been offering as part of their Covid-19 response include a freephone number 0800 066 2828 for anyone in crisis who needs a chat.
It’s understandable that we may feel anxious and stressed, especially now. Anxiety has many different symptoms and may affect how you behave both physically and mentally. Platform 1 are determined to continue to support people in different ways at this difficult time. They offer a free, non-judgemental, confidential service where you can talk one to one.
How you can help
There are a number of ways you can support Platform 1 to carry on their work in our communities.
Counsellors wanted – If you’re a level 3 trained counsellor, they could really use your help to support vulnerable people over the phone.
Make a donation – If you have a bike to donate, or can make a financial donation to help them carry on making bikes available to key workers, this would be gratefully welcomed.
Be a volunteer – If you think you can contribute by volunteering, they would love to hear from you.
The Environmental Health service at Kirklees Council is here to support local groups and organisations who are providing food during Covid-19. Our Food Safety team are offering advice, guidance and support to help you provide food safely, for the benefit of yourselves and those you are supporting. This isn’t about getting in the way of the vital work that you’re doing in our local places, but is just about helping us all to keep people safe.
The Food Safety team may call you about your work, to find out whether you need any advice. Some organisations may also need to register with Kirklees Council. This is because national food safety requirements apply to everyone who is providing food to the public at any time, whether given away free or not. We’ve listened to feedback from local groups to help make this process easier for you.
Contact the Food Safety team
The first step is just to have a conversation with the Food Safety team. Whilst we’re in the process of contacting Mutual Aid Groups, you can also contact the Food Safety Team directly, to discuss what food provision you’re offering. We’ll help you work out whether registration is required (it might not be).
The Food Safety Team can be contacted by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone. Call Kirklees Council on 01484 221000 and ask for Food Safety.
What kind of activity requires registration?
Groups and organisations are working in many different ways to provide the vital support that people need in our local places. Not all activities will need registration. For example, if you’re collecting food from a supermarket or shop and delivering this straight to someone at home (without storing), you don’t need to call us or to register.
We understand that many new groups have set up and others have started new activities in order to provide essential support to our communities. So you may not already be familiar with the legislation surrounding the provision of food. If you do need to register, we want to make sure you have all the information and support you need to operate safely, in line with existing regulations. The aim is to protect you and make sure you can do what you need to.
Examples of activities that would require contact with the Food Safety team for advice or registration are:
Storing food before delivery to vulnerable people or key workers.
Cooking food for vulnerable people or key workers, especially cook and chill.
Changes in your normal food production practices – for example, changing from serving food in your venue to providing food at scale or cook and chill.
If you think you might need to register, please get in touch with the Food Safety team for advice and support. Email email@example.com or call 01484 221000 and ask for Food Safety.
Free training and tailored support
We know that there are lots of different kinds of food support being provided by local organisations. The Food Safety team can provide tailored advice, guidance and support to any organisation providing food in Kirklees.
If it’s useful for your group or organisation, we can help you to access free online Food Hygiene Level 2 training for your volunteers. This training includes important topics for people who are handling food, such as why food safety is important, temperature control, hazards and contamination, and personal health and hygiene.
If you’re providing cooked food for vulnerable members of your community, we will need to undertake a site visit. If you are providing food parcels or non-perishable items, we may only need to ask where and how you’re storing your food. If you are simply doing shopping runs for people who are self-isolating or shielding and taking the food straight away, we won’t need to speak to you.
Do make sure any foods that need refrigeration or freezing are not out of a fridge for more than 30 minutes. Please follow the Government’s advice on hand washing, protecting yourself and social distancing:
If you do receive a phone call from the Food Safety team, we hope that you will find this useful and reassuring. You are also very welcome to contact the team whenever you need advice. Please call Kirklees Council on 01484 221000 and ask for Food Safety.
Clem’s Garden are working with Lindley Covid Mutual Aid Group to brighten up the lives of local people in the area. Clem’s Garden CIC is a social enterprise in Huddersfield. It’s run by local volunteers who don’t have children or grandchildren to channel their care, skills and experience into. They work together to grow and sell flowers, supporting local charities and community projects with the profits.
Their locally grown flowers are included in essential deliveries of food and medicine for those neighbours who don’t have family around or at the end of the phone for support. The group are also supplying HRI staff with bunches of flowers, to show their love and support for NHS staff.
Golcar Mutual Aid Group’s Food Buddies are also working with Clem’s Garden, delivering beautiful bunches of flowers once a fortnight to those who are unable to leave the house.
The Clem’s Garden volunteers have also pitched in to help with writing letters for care home residents who feel isolated, as part of a project co-ordinated by Volunteering Kirklees.
Find out more & Get involved
Clem’s Garden welcome new participants, including adult volunteers who have their own family, as ‘Friends of Clem’s Garden’.
Had a lovely catch up with the brilliant @ClemsGardenHQ this morning! Not just delivering flowers but their awesome volunteers have been more than willing to help with our letter writing project at the drop of a hat too! Lovely write up @kirkdemocracy 😊 https://t.co/yCerIc6kMb
False information causes real harm
When shared, false information can take on a life of its own and have some serious consequences. It can lead to health scares, false accusations and potentially damaging hoax stories. Recently there has been a lot of this kind of false information about coronavirus. It’s not always easy to spot, so use the SHARE checklist to make sure that you don’t feed the beast.
Bad information hurts people
Bad information can ruin lives and hurts our democracy. There’s a lot of information out there about Covid-19, but not all of it is right. Full Fact, who are the UK’s independent fact checking organisation, have produced a simple guide to help you be more aware of false or misleading information. Their team of independent fact checkers are also fact checking current claims about coronavirus, with the aim of preventing the harm that bad information can cause.